What Is A Lift in Volleyball? [Detailed Guide in 2024]

Micah Drews


When trying to understand volleyball rules and why your team lost, there are so many questions that can arise. An illegal hit can also be called a “lift.”

What is a lift in volleyball? An intentional lift occurs when a player contacts the ball for a long period of time and then throws the ball back into play.

You are required to make brief, clean, and momentary contact with the ball as per the rules. You will be called for a lift or a carry whenever you maintain longer contact with the ball or seem to “possess” it.

What’s The Difference Between a Lift and a Carry?

An upward motion is usually more associated with a lift, whereas a horizontal motion is more associated with a carry. These are both violations of the rules, and you’ll lose points if you do either. It’s a judgment call that’s dependent on a referee’s interpretation and opinion, so they can both be considered subjective calls.

Check out What Is Considered a Carry in Volleyball to learn all about carry violations.

How To Avoid Lifting In Volleyball?

What Is A Lift in Volleyball

Playing the ball correctly and hitting it cleanly will naturally help you avoid being called for a lift as you become more proficient. Whenever you get the call for a lift (or try to avoid getting the call) here are some things you should consider:

The momentary contact

You must make your contact momentarily, suddenly, and quickly. Referees usually call for a lift when players seem to have touched the ball for more than a few seconds. Possession is not allowed, but you can re-direct the ball as you wish.

Newcomers may perceive volleying as throwing and catching the ball, and that’s quite understandable. In volleying, the ball should be redirected very quickly and fluidly. Refs will always call a lift or carry if they deem you caught and threw it.

When hitting underhand, use a closed fist

The use of a closed fist greatly reduces the chances of being called for a lift. Although it is still possible to contact the ball with a closed fist in a lifting violation, the chances are much lower. The ball is much more likely to pop or punch when you strike it with your fist than to drag through the air.

For a good, solid platform to pass with, you should be using both forearms. It’s best to close that fist if you’re going to make a one-handed save, to prevent yourself from being tempted to “lift” the ball.

Use your heel to hit

You can contact the ball with your heel, which gives it a more bouncing “pop” contact than contacting it with your palm. Using the heel to drive the ball can prevent you from being called for a lift if you are at an odd angle.

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How Do I Know If It Was A Lift?

What Is A Lift in Volleyball

Volleyball players are prohibited from lifting the ball while playing. Lifting the ball will not be a problem in your game if you use the proper techniques when passing, setting, and hitting. If your technique is off, you may occasionally make a lift, so knowing why it is a lift can help.

It’s best to check in with your coach if you’re uncertain whether or not a lift was made during play.

Passing Lift Call

When the player is in their platform formation during a passing lift call, they hold the ball too long. In order to avoid requiring a lift, the ball should be passed rather quickly. An injured passer usually calls for a lift if they have rested their arms too long on the ball. In order to prevent a ball from resting on the elbows, players should have their arms straight.

Setting Lift Call

In a set, a lift usually means that the player holding the ball held it for too long or brought it down too low. A lift is also called if the ball is touched by the palms instead of the fingertips. For players to avoid a lift, they must set the ball fluidly with their fingertips and above their heads.

Hitting Lift Call (Attacking)

Getting called for a lift when attacking a volleyball isn’t common. It usually means that the hitter guided the ball with his fingertips instead of his palm. Players should make sure they tip the ball over the net quickly and suddenly.

When lifting the ball during gameplay, it is easy to make a mistake. Get some strategies and techniques from your coach if you are frequently called for lifts.

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What Is “Prolonged Contact” In Volleyball?

There is only a split-second difference between prolonged contact and hitting the ball. Your contact should be sudden and quick when you observe the normal interaction between players with the ball. You might get charged with a violation if you keep contact longer than that.

A fast, clean contact with the ball is what players are really looking for. Players should not be encouraged to lift or carry heavy objects by coaches. Developing strong fundamental skills is the best way to prevent this.

A weak and desperate play, lifting the ball usually results in no more than keeping it in play. Improve your offense by moving faster, making decisions sooner, and swinging cleanly.

What’s a “Double” In Volleyball?

In volleyball, a “double” is a double hit. With the exception of making a block, players cannot hit the ball twice in a row. Indoor volleyball does not count blocks as hits, so that player can immediately hit the ball again after blocking.

When a “double” is called, it usually happens during a volley. In these cases, a referee will call a violation when the setter contacts the volleyball unevenly or consecutively, rather than making simultaneous contact with both hands.

As the ball leaves the setter’s hands, refs are instructed to watch its spin. Sideways spinning balls are called by many referees every time.

Can Players Lift During Serve Receive?

What Is A Lift in Volleyball

It has become easier for offensive players to dominate volleyball as it has matured over time. Rules limiting a player’s ability to dig or return a serve have been relaxed by volleyball rule-makers.

There is much more latitude and leniency given to first contact with the ball when it crosses the net. A volleyball dad recently told me, “Sometimes you get away with butchering the serve.” And he’s right!

In FIVB rules, an overhand dig, which looks like a failed volley, is legal as long as it’s a hard-driven ball. In one motion or with multiple body parts, you can contact the ball legally. Then you can try passing with your hand, arm, and face all at once!

Increasing competition and excitement is the goal. The player who is willing to take a ball at full speed and step into those serves and attacks deserves respect. As a result of these new rules, volleyball has become even more enjoyable to watch.

When Is A Lift Called?

Referees who officiate volleyball matches decide whether or not to call a lift. It is possible for a lift call to be subjective in some cases. Players and coaches may disagree with the referees’ call for the lift. Referees often discuss what the call should be when there are two on the court.

You should not argue too much about a lift call if a player is called for one, as that can lead to more violations. 

Referees can only speak with the two captains of both teams if there is a discussion about the call. Coaches can then receive information from the captains after speaking with referees.

When teams lift, the opposing team receives the ball and a point. A player’s best bet is to practice getting better and move on. The rest of the match may be affected if they dwell on an unjust call.

How Do I Avoid Making A Lift?

Volleyball players should be aware of the rules and avoid holding the ball too long when passing, setting, and hitting in order to avoid lifts. When you hold onto a ball for a long time before making another move with your hands, a lift is more likely to occur.

Following these tips will help the player avoid the lift penalty:

  • Make sure the ball doesn’t rest in their hands for more than three seconds without moving on.
  • Overhand passes should be made with a closed fist and a solid platform
  • Don’t let three seconds pass without setting, blocking, or hitting the ball.
  • Within three seconds, passing the ball to a teammate
  • When passing, setting, and hitting, use proper defensive posture

Make sure you read your coach’s instructions regarding how long you should hold onto a ball before continuing. Over-hitting or waiting too long can result in a lift call.


Do they still call a lift in volleyball?

Volleyball players are prohibited from lifting the ball while playing. Lifting the ball will not be a problem if you use the proper techniques when passing, setting, and hitting. If your technique is off, you may make a lift occasionally, so knowing why is helpful.

Can you lift first-touch volleyball?

The ball may not be scooped, held, lifted, or pushed by players. An open-handed underhanded motion cannot be used to contact the ball. Additionally, the ball may contact various parts of the body sequentially during the first hit of the team, except when serving.

What’s the difference between lift and carry?

The difference between “lift” and “carry” is that “carry” implies carrying the object after lifting it. In other words, lifting weights means standing on the spot, but carrying weights means walking around with them. A lift-up is an idiomatic expression that means to pick something up.


Volleyball is a game where mistakes are easy to make. You must know the different ways you can get penalized during play because the rules are complex, and there’s no margin for error. 

Consult your coach’s rulebook or the FIVB volleyball rulebook for clarification on lift rules. With time, patience, and practice, your reflexes will improve once you understand the rules.

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About Micah Drews

After playing volleyball at an international level for several years, I now work out and write for Volleyball Blaze. Creating unique and insightful perspectives through my experience and knowledge is one of my top priorities.

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