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What is a Pin in Volleyball

What is a Pin in Volleyball? A Complete Guide for Beginners

Volleyball has its unique terminology that can be confusing for beginners. Understanding common volleyball terms like “pin” is essential to fully appreciate the game. Pin hitters, or pins for short, refer to the two outside hitting positions on the volleyball court. They play a crucial offensive and defensive role in volleyball strategy.

As a pin hitter in volleyball, players need to master specialized hitting techniques to effectively attack from the left or right front corners of the court. This guide will dive into what a pin hitter is, their offensive strategies, defensive responsibilities, and key skills required to excel as a pin in volleyball.

What is a Pin Hitter?

What is a Pin Hitter

In volleyball, the term “pin” refers to the two antennae attached to the net at the sidelines, which serve as boundaries for the court. The players who hit near these “pins” or antennas are known as pin hitters.

Definition of a Pin Hitter

Pin hitters are the outside hitters (Position 4) and right-side hitters (Position 2) who primarily attack from the left and right front corners of the court, respectively. They are the attackers who generally hit wide sets out toward the antenna or “pin.”

Explanation of the Term ‘Pin’

The term “pin” is used to describe the antennae because players might say, “Set it to the pin,” meaning to set the ball out to the antenna for an attack. The antennas are located on the net at the sidelines and act as a boundary for the court.

Roles and Positions of Pin Hitters

Pin hitters occupy the 4 (outside hitter) and 2 (right-side hitter or opposite) positions on the court. Which are considered pin-hitting positions. Outside hitters usually receive more sets than any other hitting position. And also may stay in the game for all six rotations if they are exceptional back-row players. Right-side hitters, also known as “opposites,” are positioned opposite the setter in rotation and tend to be the second-tallest players on the court due to their frequent blocking responsibilities against the opposing outside hitters.

Pin Hitting Techniques

Pin Hitting Techniques

Footwork and Approach

To maximize power and speed in pin-hitting, proper footwork and approach are crucial. Mark Lebedew emphasizes the importance of deciding the angle of attack during the approach, whether hitting straight, cross-court, or in between. The angle is relative to the hitter’s approach, typically around 45 degrees for right-handed hitters in front of the setter. Left-handed hitters may decrease their approach angle when hitting in front of the setter for better contact.

Arm Swing Mechanics

A great volleyball hitter takes a fast approach and has a quick arm swing to generate velocity on the ball. The arm swing motion involves three positions. The “Nike” or loaded position, the high elbow position, and the extended hook position. Keeping the elbow up and rotating the shoulders and hips initiates the swing, followed by elbow extension and wrist flexion for power. Maintaining a narrow rotation and straight elbow at contact maximizes reach and power.

Hitting Angles and Shots

Coaches emphasize training hitters to hit multiple angles, including straight, hard-cross, straight-cross, hard-away, and straight-away. These angles are relative to the hitter’s approach and can be adjusted until the point of elbow extension. While full cross-body swings provide the widest range, hitters can also mix in shots by slightly adjusting their contact point on the ball.

Offensive Strategies

Playing out-of-system balls is a crucial offensive strategy for pin hitters. When the setter is unable to run the regular offensive system. At that time pin hitters must be prepared to attack from higher sets or off-the-net plays. This requires adjusting their approach and hitting angles to find openings in the defense.

Smart shots and tip coverage are also important offensive tools. Pin hitters should have a variety of shots in their arsenal, such as line shots, cross-court angles, and off-speed tips, to keep the defense guessing. Reading the blockers’ positioning and using wipe-offs or shoot sets can create scoring opportunities.

Transitioning from offense to defense is another key responsibility. After an attack, pin hitters must quickly transition back to their defensive positions. And ready to dig or block the opponent’s counter-attack. Effective communication and court awareness are vital during these transitions to maintain defensive integrity.

Defensive Responsibilities

Defensive Responsibilities in Volleyball

Backcourt defensive volleyball players should be on the balls of their feet, in medium or low body position with their body forward and butt down. This ensures the arms will be between the ball and the floor. Defenders need to contact the ball, come up to meet the ball, and not go down with the ball.

Blocking Footwork and Positioning

To be a great blocker, one must have repeatable, fast, and efficient footwork patterns that accommodate various situations. All blockers must have repeatable footwork patterns that allow them to move together along the net. The essential footwork patterns include the 3-Step Crossover (X3), 2-Step Shuffle, and 3-Step Shuggle (Quick 3 or “Q3”).

The 3-step crossover blocking footwork pattern is the gold standard and the top priority for athletes. The 2-step shuffle is used for small, quick adjustments when the blocker doesn’t have far to travel. The quick-3 is useful when the blocker is in a hurry.

Block Moves and Adjustments

Defensive players must position themselves between the flight of the ball and the half-court so they can either block or dig the ball, then convert the defense contact(s) to an offensive play. Common block moves include the reaction block (jumping from a loaded position to react to the spike), commit block (jumping higher when reading the offense well), shuffle footwork, open cross hop, swing blocking, and modified swing blocking.

Transition from Blocking to Defense

The block is the foundation of the defensive alignment. Back-row adjustments will be made based on blocking actions and principles like attack versus area blocking, number of blockers, and blocker positioning. Once the blocking system is determined, the on-court defense starting positions and sequencing must be taught, coordinating back-court positioning and movement sequences with the blocking system. Repetition drills can help practice transitioning from defense to offense.


Mastering the role of a pin hitter in volleyball requires a combination of offensive firepower and defensive discipline. Players occupying these crucial outside and right-side positions need to develop a well-rounded skill set, from executing powerful attacks with proper technique and shot selection to transitioning seamlessly into defensive responsibilities. With solid fundamentals, court awareness, and a relentless drive for improvement, pin hitters can elevate their game and become valuable assets to any volleyball team.

While the path to becoming an elite pin hitter is challenging, the rewards are immense. Those who excel in these demanding positions often emerge as team leaders, both on and off the court. By consistently performing at a high level and embodying the spirit of the game. Pin hitters can inspire their teammates and contribute to the overall success of their squad. Ultimately, the journey to mastering the pin hitter role is a testament to dedication, perseverance, and a genuine love for the sport.

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