100 Things Every Volleyball Player Should Know

Ed Chan
Jhon Cuero, Turks and Caicos, attempts an acrobatic kick save.

In May 2001, the editorial staff of Volleyball set out to put together a list of the 100 things volleyball players needed to know to be successful in the sport. Some are serious, some are ridiculous, and we certainly wouldn't say we endorse all of them (we even felt the need to add a few updates, which you'll find in bold), but 12 years later, most are still undeniably true, even if we don't always like to admit it.

Here it is. A complete, exhaustively researched, finely-tuned set of guidelines for you to live and play by. Tear it out. Put it in your pocket. Tack it to your wall. Just be sure it can be found easily the next time you’re in need of a healthy shot of inspiration.

1. Practice like you want to play.

2. When you’re playing defense or approaching to hit, remember that you have more time than you think.

3. Turn off your cell phone when you play.

4. Forget the last play and get ready for the next.

5. Know the name of the sport’s founder, including his middle initial: William G. Morgan.

6. Serve the front court passer.

7. Know where the sidelines are.

8. Make sure you own any ball you kick in frustration.

9. Stay positive if you shank a pass into the bleachers. But don’t giggle.

10. Never tip a bad set.

11. Keep you love for the sport by not over-training.

12. Never make the same mistake twice.

13. When playing coed, use total discretion when choosing teams.

14. Keep your eyes open at all times.

15. Don’t act surprised when you roof somebody.

16. Don’t bring a fake ID to a Master’s tournament.

17. Hit your cut shot until they touch it with both arms.

18. Look for an off-speed shot behind a three-person block.

19. Play with the attitude that every ball is coming to you.

20. If someone is struggling to pass your serve, stay on them.

21. Learn how to tape your own ankle.

22. Remember that the most expensive volleyball camp isn’t always the best.

23. Always set your best hitter on game point.

24. Talk during the play, not between plays.

25. Know that volleyball is life between contacts.

26. Maximize your strengths and attack your opponent’s weaknesses.

27. During arguments with the ref, avoid using the words “moron,” “idiot,” or “kook.” [Also avoid phrases that include the word “mother.”]

28. Serve in if you’re playing a weak team and go for it if you’re playing a strong team.

29. If you’re losing, making a change.

30. Never tip after you get blocked.

31. Check to make sure you’re wearing Speedos before you take off your boardshorts and run to the water.

32. If you bring the wrong uniform to a tournament, tell your club coach you want to play libero.

33. Keep in mind that you play volleyball with your feet.

34. Always be stationary when you contact the ball.

35. Don’t waste three bucks renting the movie “Side Out.” [But rent it if you find it in the 99 cent bin.] Better yet, write Netflix a letter saying you want it to be on “Watch Instantly.”

36. Dump the ball when you’re thinking clearly, not when you’re confused.

37. Take a look before you shoot.

38. Go beyond the ball with your arms when playing defense.

39. Don’t take a cortisone shot for your shoulder unless you’re playing for money.

40. If you’re getting most of the serves on the beach, don’t waste energy with jump serves.

41. Know where the ball is.

42. Learn to spell Fonoimoana.

43. Don’t abandon volleyball for golf if you’re 6’3” and being hounded by Playboy. [Referring to Gabby Reece’s brief attempt to qualify for the LPGA.]

44. If you think you’re trying your hardest try a little harder.

45. When setting, always go back to the hitter who has just made an error.

46. Find a sunscreen that has titanium dioxide.

47. Don’t bet against the UCLA men’s team at the NCAA final four.

48. Never let your opponents see you check the height of the net.

49. Always think: The next contact is the most important of my life.

50. Set the block with your feet; block the ball with your hands.

51. If you’re the setter, know who’s hitting and who the blockers are.

52. Understand that if you can’t pass at the highest level, you can’t play at the highest level.

53. Miss long on your serve rather than short.

54. Never pepper within 20 feet of an ongoing game unless your ball control skills are impeccable.

55. Play more tournaments out of your area to meet other volleyball people.

56. For warm ups, do less peppering and more drills using the net.

57. Learn to play on the beach with sunglasses.

58. Remember that teams usually win when they serve and hit in.

59. If you’re a setter, learn to set from anywhere to anywhere.

60. Always have a volleyball in the trunk of your car.

61. Always have a pump in the trunk of your car.

62. Hit your rainbow shot until it lands out of bounds.

63. In beach doubles, when in doubt , hit deep middle.

64. Never give an opponent an easy ball.

65. Don’t pay cash for an entry fee at a beach tournament until you’ve seen your draw.

66. When playing pickup, serve the stronger player for better practice.

67. Know that volleyball was invented in Holyoke, Massachusetts, not Manhattan Beach, California.

68. When you’re losing 10-0, don’t settle for not being bageled. Think about coming back to win.

69. Face where you’re setting.

70. Read the block, then the hitter.

71. Have a shot for every set.

72. When filing out your player bio, add two inches to your height. Or round down, so they’ll be even more blown away when you stuff block them twice in a row.

73. Shoot the ball over if you can’t jump and hit.

74. Understand that if you’re player better than ever at age 45, you weren’t very good when you were 25.

75. Block the low, hard one.

76. Know where the endline is.

77. If your opponent is shorter than you, ask them if they think the net is high enough.

78. If the ball is higher than the top of the net, it’s hittable.

79. For lunch between games, skip the cheeseburger and go for a PowerBar. Or leafy greens, per Russ Marchewka’s recommendation.

80. On the beach, don’t get locked into playing one side; it limits your partner options.

81. Have light hands when you set and heavy hands when you block.

82. Never mix ice cream and beer the night before a match.

83. If you’re playing in a match, never leave the bench to get a snack at the concession stand.

84. In a tournament, it’s okay to serve the guy who’s cramping.

85. See the hitter hit the ball.

86. In passing, left is right and right is wrong.

87. Remember that success in defense depends mostly on how badly you want to keep the ball off the ground.

88. If a shot’s working, keep hitting it until they stop it.

89. If you’re not a natural leaper, write down 35 inches when asked for your vertical jump and then call in sick the day they test you. Or do the "Explosive Leg Development" workout from the Boston Institute of Jump to add a few inches.

90. Start a volleyball t-shirt collection for fun, not profit.

91. Never tell anybody you “got game.” If you do, they’ll know it.

92. When there’s no other option, use your feet.

93. Don’t go to bed at 6 a.m. before a 9 a.m. beach tournament.

94. Respect the pecking order at your local court. Challenge into the court at your appropriate level.

95. If there is blood on the net and you’re missing the fingernail from your right pinkie, admit to your infraction.

96. If you travel to a beach tournament with a partner 10 inches shorter than you who doesn’t have any shots, bring a Boogie Board so you’ll have something to do in the afternoon.

97. Read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” to give you perspective when your jump serving is failing.

98. If you’re 5’5” and can’t pass, have your dad become a booster at the school of your choice. In the meantime, read "How to Pass the Toughest Serves" so you can step up your game.

99. Pronouce Karch’s last name properly. Not KA-RALLY or KA-RYE but KEY-RYE.

100. Play for fun.

Originally published in May 2001

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