Forearm Passing Mistakes in Volleyball & How to Fix Them

Passing the ball with the forearm is a foundational skill in volleyball. Whether you’re playing at a beginner’s level or competing professionally, mastering the forearm pass—also known as the “bump” or “underhand pass”—is vital for setting up attacks and maintaining rallies. Yet, even with its importance, forearm passing is often a technique where mistakes are frequently made. These errors can significantly affect the game by providing the opposing team with easy points or by making it difficult for your teammates to set up plays. In this article, we’ll delve deep into the common mistakes players make when passing the ball with their forearms and offer expert advice on how to avoid them.


1. Poor Stance and Positioning

The Mistake

A poor stance can significantly limit your mobility and reaction time. Many beginners stand too upright, locking their knees and putting their weight on their heels. This position not only limits your ability to move quickly but also hampers your ability to generate power for the pass.

The Fix

To correct this, adopt an “athletic stance.” Your knees should be slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart, and weight should be on the balls of your feet. This stance allows for quick, explosive movements in any direction, giving you the best chance to reach and effectively pass the ball.

Pro Tip

Regularly practice moving in this athletic stance during your training sessions. Drills that mimic game situations will help you get comfortable maintaining this position under pressure.


2. Incorrect Arm Placement

The Mistake

Many players make the mistake of either tucking their arms too closely to their bodies or extending them too far out. This often results in poor ball contact, sending it off at undesirable angles.

The Fix

Your arms should be extended in front of you but not rigidly straight. The elbows should be slightly bent, and your hands should be held together firmly to create a flat, broad surface area for the ball to make contact with.

Pro Tip

Practice this arm position without the ball first. Have a coach or teammate observe and correct you. Once you are comfortable with the correct arm placement, incorporate balls into your practice.


3. Inconsistent Contact Point

The Mistake

Inconsistent or incorrect contact with the forearms can lead to a wide array of problems like the ball spinning out of control, heading in an unpredictable direction, or even not clearing the net.

The Fix

Always aim to contact the ball with the meaty, middle part of your forearms where you can generate the most control. Make sure your arms are a solid platform, and focus on hitting the ball squarely with both forearms.

Pro Tip

Training aids like “passing sleeves” can provide tactile feedback, helping you to understand better where you’re making contact with the ball.


4. Failing to Move Feet

The Mistake

Some players, especially beginners, have the bad habit of trying to reach for the ball with their arms alone, neglecting to move their feet.

The Fix

Your initial positioning won’t always be perfect, so you must move your feet to adjust. Proper footwork can often make the difference between a good pass and a bad one.

Pro Tip

Incorporate footwork drills into your training sessions. These should involve moving laterally and forward/backward, allowing you to approach the ball from various angles.


5. Swinging Arms

The Mistake

Many players make the mistake of swinging their arms to hit the ball. This often results in overpowered shots that are difficult for teammates to handle.

The Fix

The power in a forearm pass actually comes from your legs and core, not your arms. Your arms are there to guide the ball in the desired direction. Keep your arm movement minimal to maintain better control.

Pro Tip

Practice “quiet arms” by keeping your arms still and using your legs to generate the upward thrust needed for a good pass.


6. Bad Timing

The Mistake

In volleyball, timing is everything. If you mistime your forearm pass, you’re likely to either miss the ball entirely or make poor contact, resulting in a weak or misdirected pass.

The Fix

Keep your eye on the ball and work on your timing through drills and real-game practice. The ideal contact point is when the ball is slightly in front of you, allowing for forward momentum to be transferred to the ball.

Pro Tip

To improve your timing, practice with a partner or coach who can toss balls at varying speeds and angles. This will prepare you for different game scenarios.


7. Ignoring Communication

The Mistake

In team sports like volleyball, communication is crucial. A common mistake is failing to call for the ball, leading to confusion and, often, mistakes like double touches or letting the ball drop.

The Fix

Always make it a point to communicate with your teammates. If you’re in a position to make a pass, call for the ball loudly and clearly.

Pro Tip

Use short, standardized phrases like “Mine!” or “Got it!” to ensure quick and clear communication among teammates.


Conclusion

Mastering the art of the forearm pass is an ongoing process. It requires a keen understanding of both what to do and what not to do. By focusing on maintaining a good stance, positioning your arms correctly, achieving a consistent contact point, moving your feet, controlling your arm swing, timing your movements, and communicating effectively, you’ll become not only a better passer but also a more valuable player for your team.

Remember that consistent practice and a willingness to learn from your mistakes are the keys to improving your game. Incorporate these tips into your training regimen and see the difference it makes on the court. Happy playing!

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