According to the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, the dig is a forearm pass to control the ball in preparation for return. It is usually the team's first touch of the ball after the opposition has put it over the net.
After the serve, each team is allowed a maximum of three touches of the ball before returning it over the net. The first is normally the dig. The next is the set, a pass used to put the ball in the best position for delivery over the net. The spike is the third touch, a powerful, overhand smash designed to ground the ball in the opponent's court and win a point.