How to Do a Pancake in Volleyball

Learning to do a pancake is not as important as diving and other fundamental skills. However, some balls are so far ahead of you that this is your only option. It's worth practicing for competitive play, but understand that you're sacrificing almost all your accuracy and power for pure reach.


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    Pancake only as a last resort. A pancake is a last ditch effort, as it is extremely unreliable. You'll have much better control if you dive to meet the ball in midair. Only try a pancake when there is no other way to reach the ball.
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    Start out low on your toes. Be in the ready position, and hunker down further if you anticipate a tip.
    • When practicing the pancake, have another player stand at the net and tip toward you. You should stand about five steps behind the ten foot line, or as far as you can reasonably dive.
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    Take a big step forward. Step forward with your left foot if you're right-handed. Lean forward as you do this, into a falling position.
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    Dive forward as low as possible. Continue the fall until your body is almost parallel to the ground. Push forward with your front foot as hard as you can. Imagine a baseball player sliding forward and reaching his hand out to touch the base before he gets tagged. This is the motion you want to achieve the maximum distance in the shortest time.
    • This is different from an ordinary dive, which may involve leaping up into the air.
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    Land with one arm stretched forward. As you dive, stretch one arm out as far as you can. Keep your hand flat with your palm down, as though you were high fiving the floor. Aim to land with this hand pressed flat against the floor, exactly where the ball is about to land.
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    Slide when necessary. Land with enough forward motion to slide on the floor if you need an extra couple inches. Try to slide on your kneepads first, then on your shirts and shorts as you fall forward. Ideally, your hand should land only at the end of the slide, to avoid taking off skin.
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    Let the ball bounce off your hand. You are literally making no effort to send the ball upward or provide a better platform. This "Hail Mary" technique will get the ball back into play, but only just. If your hand isn't completely flat against the ground, the ball is likely to bounce awkwardly or fall off to the side.


  • If you succeed, yell "Ball's up." The ball will still be low to the ground, so your teammate's may think it's out of play.


  • This may hurt, but it should be limited to hip bruises and soreness. If you hurt your joints, work on your foot work and avoid overextending them.

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Categories: Volleyball