Team A hits the volleyball on an attack. Team B attempts to block, sending the ball back across the net to Team A. Team A receives the ball. Is this considered a dig?

Also if Team A attacks the ball and Team B attempts to block causing the ball to remain on Team B's side. Team B then receives the ball. Is this still considered a dig even if it was first touched by the blocker?

  • "Dig" is not actually a term which is used in the official volleyball rules. Why do you think it is important that something may or may not be considered a dig?
    – Philip Kendall
    Sep 30, 2015 at 21:21

2 Answers 2


There is no single official worldwide volleyball statistics definition. But we can take a look at a representative comprehensive source for definitions of volleyball statistics: 2015 NCAA Official Volleyball Statistics Rules. Their definition of “dig” is the following (in “Section 4—Digs”):

A dig (D) is awarded when a player passes the ball that has been attacked by the opposition. Digs are given only when players receive an attacked ball and it is kept in play, not when a ball is brought up off a “put back” (blocked ball).

Also, it contains the following approved ruling which perfectly answers both your questions:

Team White player No. 1 attacks the ball. The ball goes off Team Blue player No. 1 and (a) is returned to Team White and passed by Team White player No. 2 or (b) goes to Team Blue player No. 2 who keeps the ball in play.

RULING: In (a), Team Blue player No. 1 is not awarded a block nor is Team White player No. 2 awarded a dig. A block is not considered an attack and therefore a player cannot be given a dig off a block attempt. In (b), Team Blue player No. 1 is not awarded a block but team Blue player No. 2 is awarded a dig.

Which means the answer for your first question is no, this is not a dig. And the answer for your second question is yes, this is still a dig, even though the attack was slowed by the block.

Other official bodies or specific competitions might use a different definition, but I believe the basic principles would be the same.


great description concerning tips and blocks as to whether it is a dig. A very misconceived and poorly recorded stats by many assistance and coaches that keep stats. In fact, unless your coach or one of them is/was a defensive artist, and it is an art; the instinct, reflex, unconscious ability to fly and do anything to touch something that may be going faster than the eye can track!

Basically any touched ball by your teammate trying to block can be dug and if upped and played by the next player in a playable way, the statistician can rule that first up a "dig".

The free ball is a tougher one. When a direct attack is not possible for whatever reason, poor pass, great dig, the player may not be in a good high percentage place or have the ability or role to attack. When a player uses underhand technique to return the ball to the opponent and reset for another try, this looping return is called a "Free ball" meaning, the team gave their opponent and easy ball to set up, essentially a "free" try to return it again without the team hitting the freeball using an attempt to make a kill.

However; there are many beach players who either play both sports or have turned back to indoor exclusively. With them comes a gambit of tricky underhand shots that is, perhaps, considered a surrending "free ball", but, in point, is an attack to get a point, or, in the very least make their opponent work to get the ball and set it up. In my opinion, when the opponent returns, typically the third hit, as a "free ball" meaning an underhand or slow looping overhand hit, giving up their attack, but at the same time goes deep to a corner, or directs hit harder and lower in hopes of catching someone in the front off-guard, this is no longer a "free ball" but a deliberate attack and the return, if successful, is a dig. correct? I have no problem with all free balls being digs in high school, but should a true "free ball" controlled pass be considered a dig?

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    Welcome to Sports Stack Exchange. It's currently not clear how exactly this post is answering the question. Can you add some resources or definitions, and give a directed response to what was asked?
    – Nij
    Sep 30, 2021 at 5:33

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