How to Run a Cross Play in Volleyball

A cross play is a type of tandem attack in volleyball with two hitters running attacks slightly offset from each other to confuse blockers.


  1. 1
    Decide how to fit a cross play into your offensive system. It requires at least two hitters and a competent setter who can put the set in the required location. It is ideal to have the setter in the back row but not necessary.
  2. 2
    Have two hitters run attacks in which their approaches cross each other, forming an X. Some examples of this include:
    • Having a middle run a one tempo ball and having the right side come behind the middle and run a two ball slightly offset from them. When the two players are close to each other it is also called a tandem attack.
    • This can also be achieved by having a middle run a "31" (3 meters away from the setter, one tempo) and having an outside come behind them and run a 2 ball on top of the setter, or a right side running 1 or 2 tempo ball on top of the setter and have the middle cross behind them and run a slide.
  3. 3
    Ensure sufficient separation. In order to run a cross play effectively, the attackers must be separated from each other enough that there approaches will not interfere with the other's. Often cross plays will have the first hitter be a one tempo, so that they are out of the way for the second hitter to complete their approach. This requires a lot of practice in order to make sure the timing does not interfere.
  4. 4
    Aim accurately. Once the approaches are clean, the next responsibility is on the setter to put the ball in the correct spot. Cross plays and tandems are designed such that one player is drawing the blockers to free up the other for an open swing or easier swing.
    • If the blockers are committing with the first hitter, the setter should set the second hitter running the cross play.
    • If the blockers are expecting the cross and are waiting for the second hitter, or already committing to them, the setter should try to recognize this and set the first option. This takes a lot of practice and recognition from the setter to do.
    As with most situations in volleyball, if the setter is unsure what the blockers are doing, set the easier ball or set the hitter who is more likely to get the kill.
  5. 5
    Practice cross play frequently. Running cross plays is a lot of fun and can add a lot of flare/effectiveness to your team's volleyball offense. In order to run the cross play effectively though, it requires a lot of sets in the gym to get the timing and accuracy just right. The more you run these plays in your gym during practice, the better they will go during a match.


  • In general, middle blockers will commit to middle hitters running one tempos. Use them to draw the blocker in and free up the second hitter. Also try to recognize when they are not working.
  • If the cross play is resulting in hitting errors or blocks by the other team, go back to basics and run your standard offense. You will have plenty of time to refine the play at practice when points don't matter.

Things You'll Need

  • Suitable players, two hitters and a competent setter
  • Practice sessions

Article Info

Categories: Volleyball