Basic Rules of Volleyball

How to Play Volleyball? A Guide to the Basic Rules of Volleyball

The most energetic and engaging sport, volleyball, is an engrossing indoor game that teams play on the volleyball court divided by a net. This old game was first discovered in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 1895. Since 1964, it has been presented as a compulsory discipline of the Olympic games. 

Playing, coaching or even watching volleyball without knowing its rules and regulations is quite frustrating. I remember the beginning of my volleyball career when I used to play this game without investigating the rules of it. And unfortunately offered many points to my opponent team.

However, today as a volleyball coach for 5 years, I can elaborate on each rule to the beginners as well as pro players, so that your opponent will not take advantage of the loophole. Let’s begin the basic rules of volleyball journey.

Standard Volleyball court size worldwide

According to the FIVB guidelines, the volleyball court should have a standard size that is;

  • 18m or 59ft. Long
  • 9m or 29.5ft. wide

(A slight up or down from this standard size is not applicable as a volleyball court.)

  • The court is split into two halves for each team. One must be 9m long.
  • At the center of the two halves, there is a net that gives equal space to each team.
  • The length of the volleyball net is 2.43m or 7.97ft for male players and 2.24m or 7.35ft long for women players.
  • The attack line of the court that separates the front court from the backcourt is 3m or 10ft. long on either side of the net.
  • The FIVB approves the ball’s standard size of 260-290gms or 9.2-9.9 ounces, meanwhile, its circumference should be within 65-67cm or 25.5-26.5 inches.

Basic Rules of Volleyball Game

  • Team players: The game includes 6 players in a team, three play as frontiers, and the rest of the three play on the back.
  • Maximum spikes: A team can take three hits per side, the fourth hit will give points to the opponent’s team.
  • Twice hitting: You as a player are not allowed to hit a ball twice in succession, however, blocking the ball is not considered in this regard.
  • Contact with the player’s body: If ball contact any part of the player’s body, it will not consider as a foul.
  • Throwing, catching, or holding the ball is prohibited/illegal.
  • Referee crew: The referee crew includes two refers, one is a scorekeeper, meanwhile the others are considered as line judges.
  • If two teammates accidentally bump the ball at the same time, that counts as just one touch for your team.  Whoever gets the ball next gets to play it (as long as it’s not your team’s fourth touch)
  • Five players in a team: If your team only has five players, you’ll have an empty spot on the court.  If the player who would normally be in that spot tries to serve, it’s an automatic point and serve for the other team. Basically, you can’t play with an empty spot!
  • Switching of the position: Once the serving team hits the ball over the net to start the rally, the players at the net can switch positions with their teammates in the back row. This keeps things dynamic!
  • Serving rule: When the other team serves, nobody on your team who’s close to the net (within 3 meters or about 10 feet) can block the ball or try to hit it for a point.  This gives the server a fair shot.
  • When is the ball considered out? The ball considers as out if it;
  1. Hits the antenna
  2. Hits the net of cables that is outside of the antenna.
  3. Hitting the floor outside of the volleyball court is also considered as out.
  4. Hits the ceiling of the game court.
  5. Hits the referee pole.

Volleyball scoring rules

  • Volleyball games are like a competition to win three sets out of five. Each of the first four sets goes until one team reaches 25 points, with a two-point lead needed to win. If the score is tied 1-1 after those four sets, then there’s a tiebreaker set! That final set is shorter, only going to 15 points with a two-point lead needed to win as well. Basically, the first team to win three sets takes the whole game! 
  • If both the teams make the same scores even till the fifth set, the set continues until each of the teams leads with the two scores.
  • The one team that scores the point in one rally gets the chance to serve for the next rally.

What are the violations in volleyball games?

Doing any below-mentioned violations can give an advantage to the opposite team;

  • While serving, make sure your feet are not on or across the serving line, or you will lose a point.
  • Never carry, lift, or throw the ball during a match.
  • If you fail to serve the ball across the net, your opponent team will get a point.
  • There should be no touching to the net while the ball is in play.
  • Imagine you’re at the net ready to block a spike from the other team. You can’t reach over the net and touch the ball unless two things happen first:
  1. They haven’t used all their hits yet: The other team can only touch the ball three times before they have to hit it over the net. So, if they haven’t used all three touches yet, you can’t block them until they do.
  2. They have someone ready to play the ball: This might seem obvious, but it basically means there’s an opponent right there who could potentially bump, set, or spike the ball after you block it. You can’t reach over and touch it if they have no chance of playing it themselves.

If both these things are true (they haven’t used all their touches and they have someone ready), then go for it and block that spike!

  • Irregular or disordered serving is also a violation.
  • Players in the back row can’t reach over the net to block the other team’s hits. If any part of their body (hands, arms, head) goes above the top of the net when they try to block, it’s called an “illegal block” and the other team gets a point.
  • Crossing the center line of the playing court is also illegal.

Volleyball players positions

As I mentioned above, one team comprises six players serving in five different positions. These are Setters, outside hitters, middle blockers, weak-side hitters, and liberos.

  • Setters

The setter is like the quarterback of the volleyball team. They control the offense by using their hands to set the ball up perfectly in the air for their teammates to hit it hard toward the other side.

  • Outside hitter

They are also known as side hitters. These are known as the primary attackers having a quite crucial role. As per name suggests their role is to spike hard in a way that the opponent team will not be able to defend it. Their main position is on the left side.

  • Weak side hitter

The weak-side hitter has a position on the opposite side of the court. This player defends the ball coming from the outside hitter.

  • Middle blocker

They play as an all-rounder, and their role is quite crucial. I served as a middle blocker for two years on my college volleyball team and this requires all time consciousness. They have to play both as a defense and offense. They block the spikes coming across the net from the opponent team and also hit the ball that sets in the middle of the court.

  • Libero

Liberos are not made to block or attack the ball, instead, they orchestrate the swift passing and returning of the ball. It is a unique position in this game and mostly assists the other players with their defensive skills. Moreover, their uniforms are also different from the rest of the players.

Some specific rules for beach volleyball

People love to play volleyball on the beach as well. There are certain distinctions between beach volleyball and the indoor volleyball game.

  • The primary difference between both volleyball games is team size or number of players. Unlike indoor volleyball games, beach volleyball contains pairs of players, also called doubles.
  • Here the match goes for 21 points, and after 7 points the sides are switched to provide equal environmental conditions to each team.
  • The beach Court is comparatively 2m short and 1m narrow as compared to the indoor court.
  • Players are not allowed to tip the ball over the net by using an open hand.
  • The beach discipline owns a relatively larger and lighter ball than the indoor volleyball game.

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