Volleyball Referee Signals

Volleyball referees use a variety of hand signals to communicate with players and coaches on the court. Knowing what these signals mean can help you comply with the rules and avoid costly penalties. This blog post will take a closer look at some of the most common referee signals in volleyball. Learning the correct volleyball referee signals will help you play better and ensure that games are officiated correctly.

Hand Signals Volleyball

Net Serve

There are a lot of hand signals that referees use to indicate plays and calls. They are designed to clear up any confusion and provide a guide to the most common hand signals used in volleyball. So, let’s look at some of the most important hand signals for volleyball referees!

The Most Used Volleyball Hand Signal

The Beckon Serve Signal

In the USA, the first referee in a Volleyball game officially uses the beckon for serve signal to start each rally.

How to Perform the Signal?

This is the most crucial signal for volleyball referees, as it starts each rally.

It is crucial that the palm is facing forward and that the whistle is blown before the signal is made.

Once the whistle is blown, the arm should be brought to the opposite chest.

This hand signal lets everyone know that it’s about to be their turn to serve.

According to USA official volleyball, the Volleyball hand signals are shown when;

Delay in Service

Delay In Service

This hand signal indicates that the server has not touched the ball within eight seconds, causing a delay in play. By using the same digits on each hand, the referee can ensure that the players are aware of the infraction regardless of which side of the court they are on.

The one-handed signal is used for game delays in matches involving players aged 14 and under. This is because these players are less likely to be familiar with the standard hand signals used by referees. The hand signal for the delay in service is raising both arms above your head. This is used to indicate to the players that there is a delay in the service. By using a one-handed signal, the referee can ensure that the players can still understand the call.

Improper Service

Volleyball referees use specific hand signals to indicate penalties. One such signal is for improper service. This occurs when the server doesn’t execute the service properly, for instance, by failing to hit the ball over the net. The improper service signal starts at the thigh.

The arm is bent less at the elbow, then extended with the palm up.

It’s essential to avoid making the signal look like the catch signal, as this could confuse. When making this signal, always keep this in mind so that the players know what is happening on the court.

When Ball Is In Play

Ball In

A referee will use hand signals to communicate with players and other officials when the ball is in play. One of the most common hand signals is used to indicate that the ball is in play. The referee will extend their arm with their hand open toward the court and point 45 degrees away from their body near the intersection of the attack line and sideline. The position of the thumb next to the index finger indicates that the ball is in play.

This signal indicates that the ball is in play and that the players can continue to compete. If the ball goes out of bounds, the referee will blow their whistle to stop play and signal for a change of possession.

Ball Touchdown Signal

Ball Touchdown Signal

When a player touches a ball on the side, it goes out of bounds; the referee signals with their forearms perpendicular to the floor, elbows at a 90-degree angle, and a comfortable distance apart. Their hands are open with palms facing behind them, and they brush the fingertips once with the fingers of the opposite hand.

The referee should be able to see their partner, the court, and the benches beside them. The signal should not look like a touchdown signal.

Volleyball Hand Signal For Line Fault

Line Violation signal

Volleyball referees use hand signals to indicate various plays and rules violations to players and spectators.

One of the most common hand signals is practiced when a ball completely passes beneath the net between the two net posts. In this situation, the referee should use the arm on the offending team’s side and maintain a stationary signal. The signal is given by extending the arm and pointing to the middle of the line with the index finger. There is no sweeping arm, hand, or finger motion. When a player commits any line violation, the same signal is used.

When a player is at fault, the referee will indicate with an open hand which player is at fault. The same signal is used for a player off the court at service contact. The centerline signal for a ball crossing under the net is identical. By communicating effectively with players and spectators using these hand signals, volleyball referees can ensure that the game is played fairly and safely.

First Referee

The first referee should point with an open hand, not a finger, to the player. You only tell the player who did something wrong when you blow your whistle, not when the second referee blows his whistle for a net fault.

As The second referee

If you see a team commit a net fault, you signal by touching the net’s top with your palm facing the net. You don’t need to touch anything if you are the second referee.

The second referee must step to the net’s side and help control the match.


This signal is used to indicate that the player does not have control of the ball. When you are giving this signal, make sure to keep your hand away from your shoulder and outside the body line. Raise your arm until it is shoulder level so everyone on the court can see the signal.

Not in front of the body but to the side so everyone can see. This is a key thing to keep in mind when using both signals. You want your hand to be out to the side, not in front of you, so everyone on the court can see the signal. This will make sure that everyone on the court knows what to do.

Double Contact

Double Contact

Refers extend their arm when signaling a double contact with the first two fingers raised. This signal indicates that a player has made multiple contacts during their team’s first attempt, which is illegal. The signal should be raised slightly to the side and above the head, not directly in front of you. Referees should remember that multiple contacts are only illegal if a single playing action makes them.

Attack Hit Referee Signals

Attack Ball Referee Signals
Attack Ball Referee Signals

When a player on the attacking team hits the ball over the net and into the opposing team’s court, the attack-hit volleyball referee signal is given. This signal indicates to the players on the receiving team that they should play the ball.

The referee will extend their arm above their shoulder and move downward towards the opposing team. The downward motion should end just above eye level to not block the referee’s vision of the court.

Blocking Fault and Screening

Blocking Fault and Screening

Illegal blocking and screening are two of the most common violations in volleyball. When referees see either of these violations, they use the blocking fault signal. This signal is elementary—extend both arms vertically with the palms facing forward. By extending your arms, you are making it clear to everyone that a violation has occurred.

In some cases, you may also need to point out the player or players who committed the violation. Doing so ensures that everyone is aware of the infraction and can take corrective action accordingly.

While the blocking fault signal is relatively straightforward, it is important to note that it has a few different variants. In some cases, the referee may extend one arm vertically and keep the other hand at their side.

In other cases, the referee may use both arms to point directly at the player or players who committed the violation. No matter which variant is used, the message is clear—an illegal blocking or screening has occurred, and corrective action needs to be taken.

Volleyball 4 Hits Signal

4 Hits Signal

If a team makes more than three contacts with the ball without sending it back over the net, and the third and fourth contacts are not made by the same player, signal four hits. Hold your arm with four fingers to indicate that you are about to make the next contact.

Make sure to do it to the side and above your head if two other players make their third and fourth contacts, signal by hitting the ball twice.

Loss of Rally

The referee will put an arm on the losing team’s side when a team loses a rally. The hand should be open with the palm facing forward, and the arm should be straight from the shoulder and parallel to the ground. The first referee uses this signal, which the second referee repeats, to designate which team lost the rally.

Volleyball Rotation Fault

The signal for a rotation fault is held at waist height. When you want to call someone out for a foul, make a clockwise circular motion with your index finger pointed towards the floor. Make this motion no more than twice. After the signal, the point at the player who you think was responsible for the foul.

Volleyball Referee Replay Signal

Volleyball Referee Replay Signal

A rally may be replayed when an object or ball comes on the court during play and causes a safety concern or causes interference. This is signified by the referee holding two fists above the shoulders with thumbs up. The replay will happen regardless of which team caused the issue.

If both teams commit a fault at the same instance, there will also be a replay. For example, this can happen if both teams simultaneously hit the ball into the net. A do-over will be called in such a case, so there is no unfair advantage.

Reaching Beyond the Net

Over The Net

When a player reaches illegally beyond the net, the referee will signal by raising their arm across the net without touching the net or net cable. When you want to show that the other team is at fault, put your palm down and hold it perpendicular to the net. The referee will then indicate the player who made a mistake.

Ball Out

Several reasons a player might reach beyond the net, such as trying to block a shot or save a ball from going out of bounds. However, this is not allowed and results in a penalty. If a player reaches beyond the net and contacts the ball, it is considered a foul, and the opposing team will be awarded the point.

If a player reaches beyond the net and contacts an opponent, it is considered a form of interference, and the opposing team will be awarded the point.

Players should be aware of the rules regarding reaching beyond the net, as it is not allowed under any circumstances. If a player reaches beyond the net, the referee will signal and indicate the player at fault, resulting in a penalty for the opposing team.


What Does 2 Thumbs Up Mean In Volleyball?

Two thumbs up is a way of saying that both teams made a mistake. This can be either a serve that goes over the net, an inadvertent whistle by an official, or any other type of mistake. If this happens, the game is stopped, and everyone takes a time-out. 

What Volleyball Signal Is Never Repeated By The Second Referee?

The referee will not repeat the hand signal. If you get a delay of game sanction, put your hand against the other wrist on the same side.

What Does It Mean When A Volleyball Referee Displays A Red And Yellow Card Separately?

The player is disqualified when the referee displays a red and yellow card. Suppose there is a physical attack, implied or threatened aggression, a team member’s second offensive behavior, or the third rude behavior. In that case, the player is removed from the game with no other consequences. The referee indicates this by displaying red and yellow cards.

Why Do Referees Use Hand Signals?

These hand signals are in place so players and coaches can understand the call just made, even if there is a lot of noise from spectators.

What Is The Signal For An Illegal Block In Volleyball?

If you want to signal an illegal block, stretch your arms straight up in the air with your palms facing away from your body.

What Does It Mean When A Referee Crosses His Arms?

This is the signal for not letting the other team score. This happens when there is a disagreement on the field.

What Does It Mean When A Referee Taps His Head?

The referee puts his hands on his head to signal that a team made an illegal substitution or had too many players on the field.

Bottom Line

Knowing the volleyball referee’s signals will help you understand the game better. Knowing the hand signals to communicate with the referees is also helpful. We can all have a more enjoyable and fair volleyball game by following these guidelines. Do you have any additional questions about the hand signals or other aspects of volleyball? Let us know in the comments below!

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