Basic Volleyball Rules

The Serve

  • Server must serve from behind the end line until after contact
  • Ball may be served underhand or overhand
  • Ball must be clearly visible to opponents before serve
  • Served ball may graze the net and drop to theother side for point
  • First game serve is determined by a volley, each subsequent game shall be served by the previous game loser
  • Serve must be returned by a bump only. no setting or attacking a serve

Scoring

  • Rally scoring will be used.
  • There will be a point scored on every score of the ball.
  • Offense will score on a defense miss or out of bounds hit.
  • Defense will score on an offensive miss, out of bounds hit, or serve into the net.
  • Game will be played to 25 pts.
  • Must win by 2 points.

Rotation

  • Team will rotate each time they win the serve
  • Players shall rotate in a clockwise manner
  • There shall be 4-6 players on each side.

Playing The Game

  • Maximum of three hits per side
  • Player may not hit the ball twice in succession (A block is not considered a hit)
  • Ball may be played off the net during a volley and on serve
  • A ball touching a boundary line is good
  • A legal hit is contact with the ball by a player body above and including the waist which does not allow the ball to visibly come to a rest
  • If two or more players contact the ball simultaneously, it is considered one play and the players involved may not participate in the next play
  • A player must not block or attack a serve
  • Switching positions will be allowed only between front line players. ( After the serve only )

Basic Rule Violations

  • Stepping on or over the line on a serve
  • Failure to serve the ball over the net successfully
  • Hitting the ball illegally ( Carrying, Palming, Throwing, etc. )
  • Touches of the net with any part of the body while the ball is in play. If the ball is driven into the net with such force that it causes the net to contact an opposing player, no foul will be called, and the ball shall continue to be in play
  • Reaching over the net, except under these conditions a) When executing a follow-through b) When blocking a ball which is in the opponents court but is being returned ( the blocker must not contact the ball until after the opponent who is attempting to return the ball makes contact). Except to block the third play
  • Reaches under the net ( if it interferes with the ball or opposing player )
  • Failure to serve in the correct order
  • Blocks or spikes from a position which is clearly not behind the 10-foot line while in a back row position

The Court

  • Both indoor and outdoor courts are 18 m x 9m
  • Indoor courts also include an attack area designated bya line 3 m back from the center line

Net Height

  • Net height for men, co-ed mixed 6 is 2.43 meters
  • Net height for women is 2.24 m
Volleyball Lingo
Translation
“Ace” When the ball is
served to the other team, and no one touches it.
“Sideout” When the team that served the ball makes a mistake, causing the ball to go to the other team.
“Roof” When a player jumps above the
height of the net, and blocks the ball.
“Stuff” When a player jumps about the
height of the net, blocks the ball, and the ball
goes back at the person who attacked(spiked) the
ball.
“Dig” When a player makes a save
from a very difficult spike.
“Kill” When a team
spikes the ball and it either ends in a point or a
sideout.

Volleyball Rules

Links to volleyball rule resources on the internet.

135 thoughts on “Basic Volleyball Rules”

    1. Yes you can use your leg, foot etc. to kick the volleyball. It’s best to do this only if you have to as it’s generally less accurate than a proper dig or volley. Also note that it counts as one of your teams 3 hits before the ball has to go back over the net

      1. no you cant… its not soccer. correct me if im wrong but i have played for a number of years now and have never seen anybody kick a volleyball in a game

        1. Its not common, because kicking the volleyball is less accurate than volleying or digging, it but it certainly is allowed. The FIVB rule is:

          9.2.1 The ball may touch any part of the body

    1. No, the volleyball rule is that the kick or header counts as one of your team’s touches. It doesn’t have to go straight back over the net although it’s fine if it does. You can even kick or head the ball to the setter if you really want to

  1. if the opponent hits shot and the ball touches shoulder,chest,or back of player of other team nd rises up nd then after that the ball crosses the net IS THE POINT CORRECT?

  2. if we touch the ball through/between the gapes or squares of the net without touching the net to disturb the opponnent for making a shot – IZ IT FOUL?

  3. is it correct or foul that to block or attack means spike the ball which is served?
    I had this doubt because when we serve the ball, the opponents takes direct attack by spike.

    1. The FIVB Volleyball Rule you want is:

      13.2.4 No player is permitted to complete an attack hit on the OPPONENT’S service, when the ball is in the front zone and entirely higher than the top of the net

      So it depends on if the volleyball was fully above net height when it was spiked, and if the spiker was in the front zone.

  4. two questions:
    1. if the ball served touch the other side boundary line,is it foul or correct?
    2. in a situation a player jumped to block the ball which going to be spiked, but the spiker did not hit the ball and just passed ball with two hands and then opposite player blocked the ball. in this is it foul or right …

    1. 1) If any part of the ball touches the line, the ball is ‘in’

      2) Yeah that’s fine, the spiker can choose to volley the ball over and the blocker can then block.

  5. I want to know how much time is required to be played for the whole volleyball match??? Or is it points that determines the end of the match? Do we have half time like in soccer or what?

    1. Volleyball matches generally aren’t played for a specific time, they are played in ‘sets’. FIVB Volleyball rules are that a team needs to win 3 ‘sets’ to win a match so a team can win 3 sets to 0, 3-1 or 3-2 so it can be hard to predict how long a match might take as it may consist of only 3 sets (if a team wins 3-0) or as many as 5 (if a team wins 3-2)

      Many local volleyball leagues and tournaments have their own rules re. how a match is won. This can be a reduced number of sets (typically 3) or even timed matches (for example in an indoor tournament where time is limited and a certain number of matches must be played)

  6. If a player digs a spike and the ball touch the player’s (digger ) hand and then chest or hand and face, is this ok?
    Does it count as one or two touch?

    1. As long as its ‘one action’ then this is fine and counts as one hit. If the digger makes 2 actions (e.g. it bounces off their hand and then they try to head or chest the ball) then the volleyball rules state that this is 2 hits and hence a foul

  7. If a blocker touch the ball of the spiker before the spiker touch it ( I mean the third ball that has been set for the spiker and the ball still is in their side of the net ) is this a foul?

    1. Hi Bobby. No it is a foul to assist a player to hit the ball. The full FIVB rule is below:

      9.1.3 ASSISTED HIT
      Within the playing area, a player is not permitted to take support from a team-mate or any structure/object in order to hit the ball.

      However, a player who is about to commit a fault (touch the net or cross the centre line, etc.) may be stopped or held back by a team-mate

  8. what are the parts of body allowed to touch the ball? I mean the ball should touch hands only or any other ….

  9. Question

    How many serves does each player get One.? Or do you get a second serve if the first hits the net.? You dont mention that in your serve rules.?

    One serve or a second serve if the first hits the net.?

    1. Hi, a player only gets one attempt at a serve. The FIVB rule is below. Note that if the ball clips the net and goes over this is a valid serve and play should continue.

      12.4.2 Only one toss or release of the ball is allowed. Dribbling or moving the ball in the hands is permitted.

      The rule above means you can’t throw the ball up, catch it and try again. You do only get one chance!

  10. I have a question about substitution. Are you allowed to Substitute any player out of the court regardless of where they are standing or positioned?? I am really confused about substitution.

    1. You can’t block or spike a serve back (actually I guess in theory you could spike it back – if you are behind the attack line)

  11. I was of the understanding that the rules were changes to allow net/tape touches in spiking or blocking? Are net touches not permitted at all – unless the net hits the player from a ball hitting the net.

    1. Check out these FIVB rules:

      11.1.1
      In blocking, a player may touch the ball beyond the net, provided that
      he/she does not interfere with the opponent’s play before or during the
      latter’s attack hit

      11.1.2
      After an attack hit, a player is permitted to pass his/her hand beyond
      the net, provided that the contact has been made within his/her own
      playing space

  12. what is the significance of the attack line ? can a player playing behind the attack line , cross the attack line and spike or block the ball ???

    1. Back court players can’t block (or join the block)
      They can spike from behind the attack line
      They can also spike in front of the line as long as they have jumped from behind the line and haven’t landed

  13. One question. If a receive (or a defense receive) is bad and the ball heads outside on the opponent’s side of the field can a team member run on the opposite side and get it back across the net into the play? I’ve seen it happen, but I’m not sure what does the rules say about it.
    Thanks

  14. Sir my question is
    if a blocker or smasher touches net by mistake or touches the line below net , then is it a foul ?
    I heard that only one kick can be used in the whole game is it correct or 1 kick in each point ?

    1. You want to check out the following from the FIVB rules:

      11.3.1 Contact with the net by a player is not a fault, unless it interferes with the play.
      11.2.2.1 to touch the opponent’s court with a foot (feet) is permitted, provided that some part of the penetrating foot (feet) remains either in contact with or directly above the centre line

      And there’s no limit to how many kicks you do – but generally setting it up and spiking works better :)

  15. 1.In tapping the ball, which fingers should i use..
    2.Once the ball hit my fore head and cross the net is it legal??

  16. At first serve, can the receiving side play one hit, hit the ball back to oponents side or must they make use of two or three hits?

    1. Hi – this is fine according to the FIVB Volleyball Rules – you don’t need to use your 3 hits. It can be good to pop the ball straight back as a surprise tactic but this is unlikely to work against better volleyball teams. It’s nearly always best to aim for a dig, set and spike

  17. What’s A Reach? And Are You Allowed Once You Block The Shot But It Still Goes Onto Your Side Can You Block It And Consecutively Touch It Because A Block Is Not A Hit?

    1. Not sure what a reach is – unless you mean reaching right over the net and interfering with play?

      And yeah, if you block it then you can hit it again – the block doesn’t count as a hit (beach rules are different though)

  18. At the start of the game when the Home team is serving and loses the point (0-1). When the away team receives the ball do they have to rotate?

    Also, when the set 1 ends and the team switch sides, does the last person in position 1 from the previous set (1) get to serve first in set 2?

    1. 1) Yep they do need to rotate. Teams often rotate backwards before plat starts to allow for this

      2) No – each set is started fresh

  19. 1. If an attacker tries to make a drop and he is literally slightly pushing the ball with his fingers. Is it foul. Could you explain this.
    2. When the ball is attacked or served with immense force and the receiver could not be able to pass the ball by fingering or under arm. Whether he can contact the ball with both the hands opened with a minimum contact

    1. 1) its a fine line between a tip and a ‘carry’ – but yeah tipping using fingers is fine

      2) Yes that’s fine indoors as long as it’s a clean contact and not a ‘carry’ or ‘lift’. It can’t be called as a ‘double-touch’ either

  20. hi, im a little confuse about switching position. As we know, players have to rotate in clockwise turn during game right? and I know that switching back to original position (pre-set positions) are allowed right(correct me if im wrong)? So, if switching between players are allowed, (back row to front row, middle to setter eg.) can the switched positioned player (back to front) do attacking it in the attack zone? thanks

    1. You can’t switch back and front players. Well I guess you can, but the back court player (now at the front) can’t spike or block etc. Teams occasionally have issues where a back-court setter forgets they are a back-court player and get involved in blocking, or tip above net height etc.

    1. In general you can only hit the ball once, the main exception is if you block the ball, then you are allowed a second hit – but otherwise a team-mate would need to hit it before you can do so again

  21. I’m a little confused about the scoring of point, how do we score ponts? For instance, if I serve and lose the serve is it a point to the opponent the? Or is it just a lost of serve and not a point? Again in the game if I serve and the oppenents return the ball directly we fail to play the ball, will it be a point for the oppornents? How are points counted here? 2nd question: is there such thing as that u have to fold ur hands in a form of a dig when u kick the ball and if not its a faul? Last question: can the refre reduce points of the team when maybe they don’t comply?

    1. 1) Scoring is now “rally points” so whenever a fault occurs, the winning team gets a point. So yes if you fault on the serve, the other team gets a point and gets to serve next

      2) Nope – you can kick, head or chest the ball to your hearts content :)

      3) There are 3 levels of sanctions (points, expulsion or disqualification). e.g. From the FIVB Volleyball rulebook

      21.3.1 Penalty D11 (6b)
      The first rude conduct in the match by any team member is penalized with a point and service to the opponent.

  22. In a game I was playing with my friends the other day, an argument came up. It was my serve and at one point I got a fault, then a point, then another fault. They said it was their point and serve because it was two faults, but I said you get two faults per serve (the way I’ve always played). Still they claimed it’s two faults per server. Which of these two (if either) are correct?

    1. I’m afraid the volleyball rules re. serving changed years ago. If you fault on your serve, the other team gets a point, and the serve passes to them. There’s no concept of a ‘second serve’ and you even only get once chance at throwing the ball up to serve.

  23. I am the setter and in a game two nights ago, a girl on the opposing team went to tip it over and I blocked her tip, but both of our hands were on the ball at the same time(her hands touched the ball before mine): I could feel the force she was using, but since she was up earlier than me I was able to get the ball back over, but the Referee gave the point to the other team. Was that just a bad call or was it my fault?

    1. If she was trying to tip then it’s fine to block. If she was trying to set then you can’t interfere with the set by reaching over the net.

      Simultaneous contact with the ball is fine and play should have continued as per the FIVB volleyball rules below:

      9.1.2.2
      When two opponents touch the ball simultaneously over the net and the ball remains in play, the team receiving the ball is entitled to another three hits. If such a ball goes “out”, it is the fault of the team on the opposite side.

      9.1.2.3
      If simultaneous hits by two opponents over the net lead to an extended contact with the ball, play continues

  24. how many times can a player who is serving toss the ball in the air, and then let it drop without contacting the ball? is there a limit before its a fault. I am thinking NFHS rules on this

    1. I’m afraid the official FIVB volleyball rule on this is zero. A server gets one attempt to serve. They can’t throw it up and let it bounce or catch it and try again. One chance and thats’s it. Of course in some circumstances and matches it may not be appropriate to apply that rule. For example, if a beginner is serving, or its a kids match or knocking around on the beach but that would be up to the teams/referee to decide

    1. If the serve clips the net and carries on to the opponents court then this is fine and play continues – even if it clips the net and falls very close to the net

      Yes the volleyball rules are that you can serve anywhere in the opponents court

    1. Not any more ! FIVB Volleyball rule is:

      11.3.1 Contact with the net by a player is not a fault, unless it interferes with the play

    1. The front-court players are allowed to block so in theory all 3 of them can block at the same time. Just be aware it does leave less players to cover tips etc.

    1. Officially the volleyball needs to be thrown. i.e. you can’t just serve out of your hand. But in practice it’s pretty hard to see if there is a tiny gap between the hand and the ball. I’ve only ever seen this penalised once and the referee got lots of dirty looks (from both sides)

    1. The FIVB volleyball rules have just changed on this. It’s a foul if the net touch was during the course of playing the ball

  25. I’ve played lots of volleyball and in some pickup games I’ve played, they allow a double hit by the same person if the ball is hit into the net. Sai I hit the ball into the net, it bounces off, they allow me to hit it again, attempting to pass or set it off the net. is this a local rule or an old rule that has been updated, or has it ever been a legal volleyball rule?

  26. if a players touch the ball three times and instead of going over the net it bounces at the net and return, is it allowed to play again

    1. A team gets 3 hits before the ball needs to go back over the net. The only exception to this is that the block doesn’t count as one of the 3 hits. So in answer to your question, it would be a foul unless the first of the 3 touches was a block

    1. Nope. Well actually I think they can, but if they or any of the front-line players touch the ball then it’s a foul – so best not

  27. What if my one leg enters into their court while the other is still in my court? Is it a foul? This happend after I jumped to block

    1. yeah I’m afraid so, this would count as a 4th touch. If the serve receiver digs the ball into their own chest (for example) then this would be OK – bit if it hits a different played then it would be a foul

    1. Presumably you mean to spike hit or block the ball back to the serving team ? If so, this is not allowed for front court players (If hit above the top of the net)

      If you’re behind the 3 metre line, you can do what you like :)

    1. Normally a foul and the team that hit the ceiling loses the point. You may want to relax this rule if beginners are playing or if the ceiling is particularly low (maybe play the point again ?)

        1. Not really a ‘rules’ question :) but typically players on the serving team switch when the serve is made.

          Players on the receiving side typically switch when the ball has been sent back over the net (sometimes the front 3 will switch as the serve is coming over)

          But there’s no hard and fast rule or system – a lot depends on the level the match is being played at

  28. what if.. first service change and opponent team gets continuously points.. what’ll be the game point to defeat the team by zero point

    1. In volleyball you can serve from anywhere behind your own baseline and yes the serve can land anywhere in the opponents court

  29. i want to ask that if I servd the ball and it touches the net and also crossed the net than it will our point or other team’s ???

    1. The server keeps serving until the other team wins a point – then serve switches to the other team

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