How to Bump a Volleyball

The bump is the most basic and most essential skill in volleyball. The bump is used to hit a ball that is below the head, and is typically used as the first touch to receive a serve or return. If you're going to master volleyball, you'll need to master the bump so you can both receive and pass the ball.


  1. Image titled Bump a Volleyball Step 1
    Get in position. You should stand with your legs about shoulder width apart and should lean forward a bit. Your knees should be bent a little bit, ready to spring your legs into action. Your hands should come together in the last moment before the ball comes to you; when you approach the ball, you can keep your hands about half a foot apart, and bring them together when the ball comes toward you. Otherwise, it'll be hard to maneuver yourself to get in the right position to hit the ball.
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    Create a platform with your arms. The platform is the area between both your wrists and elbows which is the "sweet spot" for hitting the ball. To create your platform, the most important thing you need to do is to clasp your hands together correctly while holding your arms straight in front of you, slightly below your waist, with your shoulders arched. Clasp your hands in front of you, with your thumbs together, side-by-side. Don't lace your fingers together, for this will make you lose control of the ball.
    • You can either make a fist with one hand and wrap the other around it (the ball method), or you can bend one thumb down to its palm, and rest it on the other hand (the cup method), thus cupping it with the other hand.
    • If you're using the cup method, then your thumbs should be parallel with each other, and your four fingers on each hand will be parallel with each other as well.
    • Remember to keep your elbows locked and your knees bent.
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    Use your legs. Using your knees, and your arms, push through the ball. If you're a younger player (12 and under), you can benefit from bending your knees and using them to power your legs and get momentum to guide the ball.
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    Hit the ball with both arms. Position yourself so that you hit the ball with both. Otherwise, you won't be able to aim the ball correctly and could be fouled. This can be a bit tricky, when the ball is coming at you at an unexpected angle, but it's always important to position yourself so that your ball hits your arms with equal force so you can aim and hit it correctly.
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    Move to the ball so that it will come down squarely in front of you. You can bump the ball backwards, of course, but you still want to make sure that you make contact with the ball right in front of you (you may need to turn away from the net). You should face the direction the ball is coming with your shoulders and the front of your body for best results.
    • If you don't need the ball to go back, swing your arms or bring them above your shoulders. If you do need it to go back, carefully swing your arms backward, as much as is needed.
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    Pass the ball. Keep your eye on the ball. Follow the trajectory of the ball as it comes down and even as you hit it. Make contact with the ball at about waist-level. When the ball is right above your forearms, straighten your legs so that your arms move up to meet it. Try to contact the ball on your forearms (above the hand but below the elbow joint.). At the same time, move your arms forward and up slightly, but do not swing your arms. Contrary to what a lot of people think, the majority of the force should come from your legs.
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    Aim the ball. Dip or twist your shoulder to aim the ball. You can't really aim with your forearms, because you need to keep them flat in order to provide a good platform for the ball. Instead move from the shoulders so that both arms stay together and move as one unit. Ideally, you can square up with the ball (point your feet at the target) so you can just hit it straight forward. Remember to aim the ball slightly to the right of the center of the net, since that is where the setter should be standing.
    • You should drop the shoulder and put the weight on the ball that is moving towards the target. Use your platform to help you aim the ball.
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    Keep your eye on the ball after you bump it. Watch the ball with your eyes, not your whole body, try to keep your chin down, because it gives you more control of the ball. Some coaches will even have you put the collar of your shirt in your mouth to keep your chin down.
    • Once you release the ball, separate your hands, but still keep them half a foot or so apart, anticipating the ball's next movement and get ready to hit the volleyball.


  • If you get small purple bruises on your arm after playing volleyball for the first time in a while, do not be alarmed. They will be sore for a couple of days but will then go away and toughen up your arms
  • Be sure to STAY LOW. This is important in most aspects of volleyball. Staying low will increase control and power.
  • Try not to "swing" your arms when passing a ball. This could cause a "wild" pass. Your arms should not come above shoulder-level. Instead, try to square up with the ball so you can hit it straight forward or, if that's not possible, dip your shoulder to aim.
  • Do not be afraid to run or dive for the ball. However, if you do run for the ball, do not run with your hands together. This will cause you to run slower and miss the ball.
  • Practice is definitely necessary when learning the bump. A good way to practice is to bump a volleyball against a wall as many times as you can in a row.
  • Always use communication. Call the ball out during games by saying "mine" or "got it" so your teammates know to back off from the ball to avoid people colliding with each other. Also, always be on your toes. Never rest on your heels when you're expecting the ball because you won't be able to spring into action as quickly.
  • If the ball is coming at you fast, you may not need to put as much power in to your bump. (Just let the ball hit your arms and guide its direction by pointing your feet to your target)
  • If you're playing with more than three people you may want to call the ball, by saying "MINE!" to avoid running into each other
  • Remember, keep your arms straight and level. If you tilt your arms a little, the ball will go in the direction perpendicular to the angle of your arms. This can be done purposefully in order to hit the ball towards a teammate. Make sure that you have the ability to hit a straight bump so you can better control where the ball goes when you have to hit it in a game.
  • Stay calm and focus.
  • You can get more power in your bump by transferring your weight forward as you hit it.
  • Do not lean to the ball or bend your back; This poses bad control. Bend your knees and take a jump-step forward or back. Only lean in desperate situations, like if you run full force after a ball that was hit wide.
  • While you can use the bump to hit the ball back over the net, in more advanced play it is usually used simply to get the ball under control and in position for the set and spike.
  • Don't cup your hands together because this action will give the bump to much power and make the ball go out.
  • Always call the ball by saying "Mine!" This will show that you are an aggressive player and it will prevent you from running into a team mate who is going for the same ball.


  • If you have tender skin, or bony arms, it is likely that your forearms will hurt when you have hit the ball a few times. Don't worry, if you power through it, you will get used to it, and it will stop hurting.
  • Be sure not to cross your fingers. This could lead to injury if the ball accidentally hits your hands.
  • Don't lift or "carry" the ball. The bump should be a quick hit. If the ball stays in contact with your body for too long, you could be called for a fault and lose a point.
  • Do not cross your thumbs under any circumstances as it is possible to break a bone bumping that way.
  • Do not hit the ball with your hands. Many people say it hurts to play volleyball but it is usually because they are hitting the ball with their hands. In addition, the hands do not make a good, flat platform, and you're bump will likely go errant.

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Categories: Volleyball