If you're new to volleyball, you may have heard the term "lift" being thrown around during games or practices. But what exactly is a lift in volleyball, and why is it important to know about?

In this blog post, we'll dive into lifts in volleyball, including what is considered a lift, when lift calls are made, and how you can avoid making a lift in your own gameplay.

Whether you're just starting out in volleyball or looking to brush up on your knowledge of the sport, read on to learn everything you need to know about lifts!

What is considered a lift in volleyball?

First things first: what is a lift in volleyball? A lift occurs when a passer, setter, or attacker holds the ball for too long or allows it to come to rest on their hands or arms.

This is typically a violation of the rules, as it gives one player an unfair advantage over the other team. In general, a lift is called by the referee when the ball is visibly held or comes to rest on a player's hands for more than a split second.

Setting lift call

There are a few different scenarios in which lift calls are common in volleyball. The first is during setting when the setter uses their hands or fingers to direct the ball towards a hitter or spiker. If the ball is held or comes to rest on the setter's hands, a lift call may be made.

To avoid a lift call, it is important to ensure that there is no prolonged contact with the ball. To ensure that the ball does not pause momentarily, a setter should keep their hands open and move them quickly away from the ball as soon as contact is made.

This will help to reduce the amount of time the ball remains in the hands and help prevent a lift call from being made. Additionally, the setter should be careful to use only the fingertips to direct the ball, as using palms or other parts of the hands can result in a lift call.

Passing lift call

Similarly, if a passer receives a ball and holds it for too long before setting it up for a teammate, a lift may be called.

To avoid passing lift calls, ensure you keep your arms straight, spread apart, and use your leg muscles to make a clean pass. Always keep in mind that your arms and hands can only guide and direct the ball, not hold it.

In addition to straight arms and spread hands, it's important for passers to ensure that the ball does not come into contact with their body before they pass it. If the ball hits any part of the passer's body, even if they don't hold onto it, a lift call can be made by the referee, giving an advantage to the opposing team.

Attacking lift call

During attacking, lifts can also occur when a hitter or spiker holds the ball before slamming it over the net. This illegal hit is often referred to as a "carry" or "throw," and can give the hitter an unfair advantage by allowing them to aim their shot more precisely.

When attacking, lift calls can also be made if the ball is held for more than a moment or comes to rest on the hitter's hands before an attack hit.

To avoid making this mistake, ensure you avoid overly long contact with the ball and instead use a wrist snap to make fast contact with the ball before hitting it.

How to avoid making a lift?

So, now that we know what a volleyball lift is and when it's commonly called, how can you avoid making a lift in your own gameplay?

The key is to keep the ball moving at all times, using quick and efficient movements to set, pass, and attack the ball. This means minimizing any pauses or rests on the ball, and using your arms and hands to deflect the ball towards your teammates as smoothly and fluidly as possible.

Practicing your technique and getting feedback from experienced players or coaches can also help you improve your skills and reduce the likelihood of a lift being called during a game.

One of the best ways to avoid a lift is to focus on the task at hand. Move your arms and hands together smoothly to keep the ball moving. Take your time when you hit the ball so that your motions are smooth and continuous.

Cases where a lift  is not called

In a volleyball match, there are some times when it looks like a lift violation has happened but it is not called. For example, if two players from different teams hold the ball while blocking above the net, this is not a lift. The game will continue once the ball falls on one side of the net.

Also, when the ball comes off the net, it's challenging to maintain a clean motion since the trajectory is already set. In such instances, it's unlikely to receive a lift penalty.

Another example is when a defensive player quickly catches or holds the ball for a moment to protect her face - this isn't considered a lift either.

Additionally, in some casual or recreational games, referees may be more lenient with lift calls in order to keep the game flowing smoothly. However, in official matches or tournaments, the rules surrounding lifts are typically more strictly enforced.


In conclusion, understanding what a lift is in volleyball and how to avoid it is a crucial skill for volleyball players. A lift in volleyball can lead to penalties, giving other teams the advantage during matches.

Playing volleyball is all about mastering the fundamentals of ball control and movement - understanding when a lift can be called is an important part of that process. Keeping the ball consistently moving and maintaining a fluid motion are the essential components of avoiding lift calls.

With practice and focus on proper technique, you'll soon find yourself playing more effectively with fewer lifts called against you. So get out there, keep practicing, and execute fluid, clean motions to avoid a lift's frustration.

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Be sure to check out our other volleyball and sports & fitness blog posts!

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