Basic Volleyball Rules

It can be annoying not to know the basic volleyball rules, whether you are a player, coach, or spectator.

You may have noticed volleyball on television. The officials make a call during the game that you don’t understand. You might become irate when a referee decides that you disagree with or you would favor your team.

Maybe you’re a casual volleyball player looking for a competitive edge. You should know the fundamental volleyball rules whether you’re a coach, player, parent, spectator, or casual player.

Number of Players on the Court

Like any other sport, each team is limited to a certain number of players on the volleyball court.

Volleyball comes in various formats, each with its number of players on the court.

Two-person teams are commonly found in beach volleyball.

Four-Person Team – Frequently seen in co-ed tournaments, with both sexes on the court simultaneously.

Six-Person Team – The standard “indoor volleyball” squad found in school, league, and professional competitions.

The Basics

Two teams play on either side of a net. Each team tries to score points by passing the ball over the net to their opponent.

One team passes the ball to the other over the net. After accepting the serve, the receiving team has up to three contacts to carry on the rally.

Each team gets three consecutive touches until one grounds the ball on the opposing team’s court, winning the rally.

Winners receive a point and serve to begin the subsequent rally if a team loses the current one. Players move clockwise around the court depending on which player has the ball.

The first two touches of most rallies are used to initiate an attack. The team tries to send the ball over the net in the best possible position to score a point against the opposing team.

The Basic Volleyball Regulations

  • There are 6 players on each team, with 3 in the front and 3 in the back.
  • Three hits maximum per side.
  • A player can’t hit the ball twice straight (A block is not considered a hit).
  • The ball may be played off the net on a serve and during a volley.
  • A ball is “in” when it crosses a boundary line.
  • If a ball strikes an antenna, the floor outside the court, a net or cable outside the antennae, or the referee stand or pole, it is considered “out.”
  • Using any part of a player’s body to contact the ball is permitted.
  • The ball cannot be caught, held, or thrown.
  • If two or more players make simultaneous contact with the ball, it is regarded as one play, and either player may cause the following contact (as long as it isn’t the team’s fourth hit).
  • A player cannot attack or block a serve while on the 10-foot line or inside of it.
  • Front-line players can move around at the net after the serve.
  • The officiating crew may consist of two referees, line judges, a scorer, and an assistant scorer during higher levels of competition.

Violations of the Basic Volleyball Rules

Here are some volleyball violations.

  • A violation results in a point for the opponent.
  • When you come into contact with the serve, stepping on or crossing the serving line
  • Not getting the ball over the net when you serve it.
  • Illegal contact with the ball (lifting, carrying, throwing, etc. )
  • During play, any body part can touch the goal net. If the ball is driven into the goal with enough force to make contact with an opposing player, the ball remains in play, and no foul is committed.
  • If your opponent has a player there to play the ball and they haven’t used three contacts, reaching over the net to block their ball is against the rules.
  • Reaching over the net to attack an opposing ball is a violation if the ball hasn’t broken the net’s vertical plane.
  • Use any part of your body to cross the center line of the court. The hand or foot, however, must completely cross for there to be a violation.
  • Out of order serving.
  • When a back row player is close to the net and has a portion of his or her body above the top of the net at the time of contact, they are blocking (this is an illegal block).
  • When a back row player attacks a ball in the front zone, the area inside the 10-foot line, the ball must be entirely above the net (an illegal attack).

The Most Important Volleyball Regulations

1. Volleyball Serving Rules

Every point in a volleyball game starts with a serve, so it is essential to understand the serving rules. The server must stand behind the back line when serving the ball. The ball must be hit with the hand or arm, not any other body part.

You Must Toss The Ball Before Hitting It.

This might seem like a silly rule, but it serves an essential purpose. When you toss the ball before hitting it, you prevent yourself from getting a running start. This gives your opponent a fair chance to return the ball. So, next time you’re on the court, follow this rule and toss the ball before hitting it. Your opponents will appreciate your fair play.

Overhand and underhand serves are legal if neither hand touches the ball simultaneously.

Serves Must Be Made Inside The “Sidelines” And Behind The “Back Line.”

When serving, players must be careful not to touch the lines, as this will result in a point for the other team. Similarly, when returning a serve, players must be careful not to let the ball touch the ground outside the sidelines or back line. 

If The Ball Goes Into The Opponent’s Court, It Can Touch The Net.

  • No server may touch the ball before it crosses the net.
  • The serve can’t touch the sideline antennae.
  • If there’s a referee, servers must wait for clearance to serve.
  • This prepares both teams for the service.
  • The ball can touch the net if it goes into the opponent’s court.

2. Rules for Scoring

Side Out Scoring

According to side-out scoring, a point can only be scored by the team serving.

The receiving team competes for the chance to serve if playing side out scoring.

Rally Scoring

Both teams can score with rally scoring.

Volleyball has many scoring and sideout options.

  • If it requires more than three touches for an opponent to get the ball over the net.
  • If a rival kicks the ball out of bounds without your team touching it.
  • If a rival strikes the referee.
  • If a rival enters the net improperly or touches it at any point,
  • in the opposing court if the ball touches the ground.
  • The same server will have the chance to serve once more and will do so until the opposing team scores or sides out if the serving team wins the point.
  • The opposing team will rotate and serve if they score or achieve side out.

3. Rules For Volleyball Serve And Receive

Players have to decide what to do after receiving a serve.

They can just let the ball go out of bounds if it looks like it will.

If the ball is indeed out and no one from the receiving team touched it, the receiving team either earns a point (rally scoring) or the opportunity to serve (side-out scoring).

The receiving team may also decide to play the ball and pass it to a teammate to begin the offensive if it appears that the ball is headed in bounds.

After deciding to pass, the receiving team has two more hits after the ball crosses the net and lands on the opposing court.

4. Rotational Rules for Volleyball

In advanced volleyball levels, keeping track of rotation can be challenging.

Players do this to ensure they are in rotation but are immediately prepared to play their dominant positions.

However, the volleyball rotation rules are relatively simple to comprehend on a fundamental level.

Every time a service is won following a “side out,” players must remain in a set rotation that rotates clockwise (the moment the opposing team loses their serve).

This enables everyone to serve in turn throughout a set and a game.

Volleyball with two players is distinctive because the court does not need to rotate. After each “side out,” players must switch serves.

Additionally, rotation restricts where players can play on the court at any given time.

A ball may not be attacked from in front of the three-meter line by players in the back three rotational spots (behind that line). They may, however, approach the ball from behind the line.

5. The Number Of Hits

In indoor volleyball, a team is only permitted three hits to return the ball to the opposing side of the net. This speeds up play and prevents one team from needing too many hits to put the ball in the net.

If a team strikes the ball more than three times, the referee will call a timeout and award the opposing team a point.

Because it maintains the tempo of the game and makes sure that a team isn’t just idly passing the ball back and forth with its teammates, this rule is strictly enforced.

To use all three available hits, coaches typically instruct their teams first to get the ball in the air with a pass. Players usually try to position the ball close to the net after the bump so that the third hit can be a spike.

The third possible hit is typically a free ball over the net if a team cannot complete these hits. One of the three touches is counted when a block is made on an opposing spike.

6. Rules for Double Touch

In volleyball, it’s against the rules for a player to hit the ball twice straight without a hit. In other words, if a player hits the ball in the air, they are unable to hit it again until a teammate on their team does. This is used throughout the entire game to ensure that players aren’t just positioning the ball to themselves to get a better hit.

The team aspect of the game would also lose importance if a player could hit the ball repeatedly because they would be able to hit the ball up to themselves and try to win a match by themselves.

If a player wants to hit the ball twice during their team’s part of a rally, one of their teammates must hit the ball first. If a player blocks a spike from an opponent, it doesn’t count as a hit, and they can hit the ball again.

7. Rules for Net Contact

  • During a match, the ball or players will touch the net. Players may not touch the net.
  • A player can only reach the net after making contact with the ball to follow through or block the opposing team.
  • A player may go under the net if it doesn’t impede the other team’s shot.
  • If a player hits the net during a rally, their team loses that point.
  • A live ball hits the net and goes over. The serving team gets the point if the ball hits the net and lands on the other side.
  • Unlike tennis, the server doesn’t re-serve once the ball has crossed the net. The returning team must get the ball over the goal.

8. Boundary Line Rules

  • Similar to basketball, tennis, and soccer, volleyball has boundary lines. The hitting team gets the point if the ball hits the boundary line during a match.
  • In volleyball, boundary lines are in bounds and can be used strategically, unlike in basketball and football.
  • Since boundary lines are in bounds, referees must watch them closely. One referee sits at a high angle in a tennis-style chair, and another stands behind the out-of-bounds line to get the best view.
  • Balls close to the line are harder to return, and a player gets more points if they hit the ball well and aim for the line.
  • If the hitter isn’t accurate, this strategy could lead to many out-of-bounds balls and points against your team.

9. Illegal Hits

  • Volleyball violations result in the opposing team getting the point and serve.
  • Illegally hitting the ball hurts the team.
  • Any hits that involve carrying or throwing the ball, or hitting it with an open palm, are illegal.
  • Players should avoid illegal hits unless they are sure they will get away with it because they always cost their team a point.

10. Court Regulation Rules

  • Volleyball has a legal court, like other sports.
  • The attack line on a volleyball court must be 3 meters from the centerline and 9 meters by 18 meters in size.
  • Sports set rules for the playing field to ensure everyone is on an equal-sized court and following the rules.
  • Teams that don’t play on standard courts may have an advantage over their rivals because they are more accustomed to playing on courts of different sizes.
  • Every line on a volleyball court is the same length because of how precisely the lines are drawn.
  • To ensure fair play, the sport must maintain uniform playing surfaces.

11. Indoor and beach volleyball rules.

  • When taking a serve, step on or over the end line.
  • Serve or hit the ball into the net.
  • While the ball is in play, touch the net.
  • To get the ball, reach over the net, you could reach over to perform a follow-through or block a returning ball.
  • Reach beneath the net.

12. Volleyball Positions

There are only two players on each team when playing beach volleyball. However, playing volleyball indoors is a little bit trickier. With three players in the front in the attack zone and three in the back in the defense zone, each team has six players.

Outside hitter: This player stands front-left in the attack zone when facing the net. Wing spikers attack a setter’s ball. During play, they can move between the front and back rows.

Right-side hitter: The right-side hitter has similar responsibilities as the outside hitter.

Opposite hitter: The game’s top scorer. They play in the court’s back left corner. They must score points and defend the opposing team’s opposite hitter.

Setter: This player is the team’s quarterback. They run offensive strategies and set up attacks. They play right back and both rows.

Middle blocker: This player sits in the middle, in front of the net, to block opposing attacks. They pass the ball to the setter.

Libero: This player can only play in the backcourt. They wear a different color top and can enter and exit the game without being replaced. They can replace any player and often replace the middle blocker.

13. Volleyball Dimensions

In professional or Olympic competitions, a regulation volleyball’s circumference is 25.5-26.5 inches (65-67 centimeters).

The usual weight is between 9.2 and 9.9 ounces (260-280 grams).

All regulation volleyballs must also have a ball pressure range of 4.3 to 4.6 pounds per square inch (psi) (per square inch).

Are You Allowed To Kick The Ball In Volleyball?

Volleyball allows kicking the ball. Controlling the direction of a kick is more complex than a bump, set, or spike, but it has been done. Volleyball kicking is used to scoop a ball near the ground.

This is the last resort if you can’t dive under the ball. You can’t kick as a serve, and lower-level leagues may have stricter rules for player safety.

Final THoughts

The basic volleyball rules and regulations are essential to playing the game correctly. However, a few fundamental rules are more important than others and can impact the outcome of a match. We’ve highlighted the most important volleyball rules for you here. Make sure you know these before stepping on the court!

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