Exercises to Work on Volleyball Passing

Four-time U.S. Olympian Logan Tom, right, limbos low to return serve.
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Nesties who want to stay fit could scarcely pick a better sport than volleyball, which encourages seamless teamwork, high-flying acrobatics and athleticism. In volleyball, passing entails receiving the other team’s serve and bumping the ball to your setter. The more you exercise passing, the closer your game will resemble that of a superstar such as Logan Tom, Desiree Hooker or Misty May-Treanor.

Kneeling Forearm Pass

    Steel yourself for reddened forearms, part of the territory if you are new to volleyball passing. You’ll eventually get tougher skin so that passing becomes less of an irritation. Kneel around the 10-foot line on kneepads or a cushioned mat facing the net, advises Bob Miller in “The Volleyball Handbook.” Have a partner stand in front of the net and lob you underhanded passes. Pop the ball back to your partner by extending your arms, locking your wrists and hands together, and contacting the underside of the ball at a point about two inches above your wrists. After 10 passes, switch places with your partner. Increase your distance apart after every round.

Moving Forearm Pass

    It’s time to take to your feet and run in patterns to practice your passing. Have your partner toss the ball so that you need to take three short steps to pass the ball back. Try completing an “X” pattern, so that you go forward and right, forward and left, and back left and back right in the course of every four tosses, sprinting back to your starting position after each bump. Rotate with your partner for five sets of 10 reps, Miller advises.

Rainbow Drill

    Beach and indoor volleyball great Karch Kiraly adds some wrinkles in his book “Beach Volleyball.” In the rainbow drill, which resembles the moving forearm pass drill, your partner passes to you on one side of the court. You return the ball, and your partner sends the ball back several feet closer to the center of the court. Keep moving as you complete nine passes moving from one side to the other, and nine more as you return.

Passing the Jump Serve Drill

    Now you should be ready for a more game-like test. Your partner stands on a small table or trashcan at the net and sends you half-speed balls that resemble a jump serve. Have her gradually increase the challenge, in terms of serving speed and moving back toward the end line. Eventually, Kiraly notes, you’ll be able to pass the ball competently in games because you’ll have seen the most difficult services in practice.

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