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Volleyball Passing: Forearm vs. Overhand

When the ball comes on to your side of the net, the first contact is crucial. It sets the tone for the rest of the play, and it often determines what kind of offense you’ll be able to run. Whether it’s on serve receive or defense, for the first pass you can either use a traditional forearm pass or an overhand pass.

Forearm Volleyball Passing

This is what we typically think of when we think of “passing.” Hands are together in front of the body, arms are extended, knees are bent. The player moves to get behind the ball as much as possible, and redirects the ball so that it changes trajectory and travels to the target area.

When it comes to digging a hard-driven ball, most passers opt for this traditional pass. However, you can increase the area you cover by combining this common skill with the less well-known overhand pass.

The Overhand Pass

Basically this move calls for you to set the ball on the first contact. Instead of waiting for the ball  to travel down to your extended forearms, you raise your hands above your head and cushion the ball there. Of course the goal is still to change the ball’s trajectory and have it land neatly in the target area.

A word of caution: make sure to receive the ball evenly and distribute its force as evenly as possible among all ten of your fingers to avoid jamming your fingers.

Why Overhand Pass?

There are several reason why you should get comfortable taking serves and attacks, as well as free balls, using an overhand pass:

  1. It speeds up your offense. By not waiting for the ball to come down to your forearms you decrease the amount of time between the attack or serve from your opponents and the set on your side. This gives your opponents less time to get setup in their defense.
  2. It lets you cover more ground. If you’re comfortable with the overhand pass you can play defense farther into the court, meaning you’re more able to cover both short and long shots from a single position.
  3. It lets you play more balls. If you totally can’t pass the first ball overhand and the serve is coming at your head, you don’t have a lot of choices. You probably can’t back up far enough or fast enough to use a forearm pass, so there’s a good chance you’ll be taking it in the chest/face. Not good.

Remember that the first contact doesn’t have to be nearly as clean as the second one; you can double hit the first contact without any penalty. When the ball is coming hard and fast, this is extremely beneficial.

Photo by Odd Fellow on Unsplash

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