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About a Volleyball Kill

By Kenneth Black

A volleyball kill shot is one of the most effective ways of ending a point. The kill shot, if executed correctly, offers the opposing team little chance of a successful return. Though it is possible to defend a kill shot, the play will usually be successful if the form is right.

The Facts

The goal of any volleyball team is to win the point. There are a number of techniques that can be employed, but by far the most common is the skill shot. This shot is executed on a routine basis, both in beach volleyball and traditional team volleyball. It probably accounts for 80 percent of the points in a match. Either the kill shot is hit successfully and the other team is unable to return it, or it is hit out of bounds. Either way, it decides the point.

For more information on volleyball terms, see additional resources below.


The kill shot is executed by first controlling the ball. After the ball comes over the next from the opposing side, a player on the receiving side will bump the ball into the air. Usually, this gets the ball into a good position from which a kill shot can be performed, but it is generally not executed at that point. A second player will usually perform another bump. At that point, the third player will execute the kill shot.

In order to effectively execute a kill shot, the player must jump to a point where his arms are higher than the net. With the ball still higher than the net, the player performing the kill shot hits down on the ball with enough force to generate a tremendous amount of power. The player must be careful not to get into a rut of hitting too many kill shots to one side or the other, because teams can learn those tendencies and exploit them.

The key is maintaining a presence higher than the net, and being close enough to the net where the player is still able to hit down on the ball, yet have the ball clear the net. The player must also be sure not to be so close as to hit the net.

For more information on volleyball strategies, see additional resources below.


Because of the pace and angle of a kill shot, it is very difficult to defend. Therefore, the key is to make sure it is executed correctly. Despite the fast-paced nature of volleyball, a kill shot is something that takes a little patience to execute. But winning the game is the benefit that results.

There is also a psychological benefit to the kill shot. If teams are constantly thinking about defense, it makes the transition to an offensive posture very difficult. If teams stay in a defensive mode most of the time, they are playing not to lose, instead of playing to win. This bodes well for the attacking team.

For more information on how to execute a kill shot, see additional resources below.


Contrary to what many may believe, it does not take the tallest person on the team to execute a good kill shot. Rather, the best jumper, or the best one at timing the ball, may be more effective with kill shots. While it does take some amount of height to execute, most volleyball players have no trouble jumping to a point where their hands are substantially higher than the net. It takes skills, not tremendous height, to be effective at a kill shot.

Risk Factors

There are a number of things that can go wrong on a kill shot that should be remembered. First, the player may miss clearing the net. If the ball hits the net and fails to cross, the team attempting the kill shot loses the point. Second, to execute a kill shot, the player usually is very close to the net. While this helps the margin of error for the ball clearing the net, if the player touches the net during the point, his team automatically loses that point.

Also a number of defensive plays can be executed against the kill. The most common is the block. A player on the opposing team jumps as the kill shot is being performed in an attempt to stop the ball and deflect it back into the opposing court. Usually, the other team will not be in position to defend a block, because they will not have had the time to reposition themselves after setting the kill shot. The other defense is the dig. Usually, if the block is unsuccessful, the dig is the play of last resort. It is performed by a player getting low and hitting the kill shot just before it hits the ground. If successful, it could lead to the opposing team having the chance at a kill shot.


The kill shot, along with the service ace, are the two power shots in volleyball. The kill shot is far more common than the ace, simply because of where the player is positioned on the court. It is much more difficult to make an indefensible shot from the very back of the volleyball court. In most cases, the serving team hopes the serve is able to keep the receiving team off balance enough to prevent setting up for a kill shot. This would give the service team a chance for a kill shot. However, in most cases, the kill shot is a shot only the receiving team will get a chance to execute.

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