Rules of Volleyball - USA Volleyball (2022)

The Rules of the Game

Volleyball is one of the most fun, exciting and popular sports in the world. The game, originally called Mintonette when it was invented in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 1895, has developed into what we now know as indoor volleyball. The sport has evolved further to be played in various disciplines and formats across different surfaces based on the same set of core rules.
Rules of Volleyball - USA Volleyball (1)

The Basics

The basic rules of volleyball are the same across all variations of the sport. Play is typically organized with two teams organized in a formation on either side of a net. Each team attempts to score points by sending the ball over the net to their opponent, with the goal of having the ball hit the ground to end each rally.

To begin play, one team serves the ball over the net to the opposing team. Once the serve has been received (serve receive) the receiving team has up to three contacts before they must send the ball back over the net to continue the rally. The rally continues, with each team allowed as many as three consecutive touches, until either a team makes a kill, grounding the ball on the opponent’s court and winning the rally; or (2): a team commits a fault and loses the rally. The team that wins the rally is awarded a point and serves the ball to start the next rally. Players rotate clockwise around the court in a set order depending on who has possession of the ball.

(Video) The Rules of Volleyball - EXPLAINED!

Most rallies consist of the first two touches used to set up an attack, where the team tries to put the ball in the most advantageous position possible to score a point against the other team by sending the ball over the net in a way that their opponents are unable to keep the ball from hitting the ground. Players can legally contact the ball with any part of the body.

Visit our Rulebooks and Interpretation page.

Rule Differences

Did You Know?

The primary differences in rules internationally concern substitutions. In international rules, substitutions are limited to 6 per set for each team. Substitutes can replace players of the starting lineup only once per set. Currently in domestic rules, up to 12 substitutions are permitted per set for each team, and there is no limit on the replacement of players from the starting lineup.

(Video) Officaiting Volleyball USAV Rules

The specific rules for volleyball competition vary in the United States. Internationally, there is a set of rules promoted by the FIVB which determines and oversees the rules for play between countries and at events such as the Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cup. In the United States, competitive volleyball rules vary at the collegiate level driven by the NCAA, at the high school level for interscholastic play determined by the NFHS, and for club play which are determined by USA Volleyball.

Notable Rules for Beach Volleyball

There are some specific and unique rules in place for beach volleyball. The most obvious difference is team size – beach volleyball is played in pairs, also called “doubles.” In the beach discipline, matches are typically played to 21 points, with players switching sides every 7 points to allow for equal playing conditions on both sides of court (often influenced by outdoor conditions like wind, sun, etc.). On the beach, the court size is 2m shorter and 1m narrower than an indoor court, allowing players to cover more ground and making it more difficult for the opponent to score on a well-placed shot.

Beach volleyball is played with a different style of ball from the indoor version, slightly larger and lighter. Double contact calls are much stricter in beach volleyball, allowing for very minimal rotation of the ball in the air after it is set, and players are not allowed to “tip” the ball over the net using an open hand.

Notable Rules for Sitting Volleyball

Rules of Volleyball - USA Volleyball (2)In sitting volleyball, the net is about 3 feet high, and the court is 10 x 6 meters with a 2-meter attack line. The court is divided into two sides of 5m deep by 6m wide. The net height is set at a height of 1.15m for men, and 1.05m for women.

Players are allowed to block serves, but one “cheek” must be in contact with the floor whenever they make contact with the ball. Additionally, players must remain in contact with the court at all times when handling the ball. Standing, rising, or taking steps is not permitted. A short loss of contact with the court is permitted in two scenarios: when making a defensive play in the back zone to save a ball and when making a defensive play in the front zone.

Anyone can play! Sitting volleyball is fun for disabled or able-bodied athletes. But if you want to play on the U.S. National Team or in the Paralympic Games, there are classifications for competition.

Formats and Variations

6 vs. 6

This is the format of play that is most popular for indoor volleyball throughout the world and is the fastest in terms of overall pace of play of all the variations of volleyball.

This format of play allows for six total players on the court at a time, designating “front row” and “back row” positions on the court differentiated by a 3m line (10 ft). All players rotate in a clockwise order through the six positions on the court. The order in which players rotate is called “serving order.”

When players are in the front row, they are permitted to jump and attack above the plane of the net. When they are behind the 3m line, or back row, they may only attack from behind the 3m line and occupy a primarily defensive position.

In 6 vs. 6 volleyball you see the greatest specialization of players with positions dedicated to passing/digging, setting and attacking/blocking. In order to gain the greatest advantage against an opponent, teams usually organize their player rotations to strategically place their players in the best possible positional combination to allow for offensive plays.

For example, many teams will run a 5-1 with one designated setter, or a 6-2 where two setters are designated, but each setter only sets from the back row to allow three front row players to attack.

Overall, 6 vs. 6 is one of the most exciting and powerful variations of the sport. Sitting volleyball is also played indoors 6 vs. 6.

Rules of Volleyball - USA Volleyball (3)

(Video) Volleyball Libero POV - USA Volleyball

4 vs. 4

This variation of the game (played on an indoor court, sand or grass) is typically played at a more recreational level. Each team has four players per side, and each player is permitted to attack at the net regardless of their starting position on the court. While players must maintain serving order, during play they can occupy any position on the court. 4 vs. 4 allows for a moderately paced variation of play that requires each team to cover more ground and allows players to compete in a less specialized style of play.


Coed variations of volleyball allow both male and female players to compete together on the same team. Coed competitions can be held with any format of play (typically 6 vs. 6, 4 vs. 4 or 2 vs. 2). This variation of play is often seen in recreational leagues and local tournaments, and allows both genders to compete and play together.

Reverse Coed

Reverse coed volleyball is a fun variation where male and female players compete on the same team in 4 vs. 4 competition played on a women’s height net, where the male players may only attack from behind the 3m line. This format of play is typically seen in recreational and local leagues and tournaments.

Beach Volleyball

2 vs. 2 (Doubles)

Beach volleyball is typically played in pairs or “doubles” but can also be played in 6 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 4 versions as well. Strategically, top beach teams are usually composed of one player who specializes in blocking and one player who specializes in defense. Both players can attack from any position on the court at any time, but generally one player will attempt to block at the net to keep an attack from coming over the net, while the defender covers the court behind the blocker. Players typically communicate who will cover which areas of the court via hand signals and verbal cues between plays and while a play is in progress.

Rules of Volleyball - USA Volleyball (4)

Beach ParaVolley

3 vs. 3

Beach ParaVolley is a unique variation of beach volleyball in which athletes with disabilities are permitted to compete with three players per side. Beach ParaVolleyball is an emerging discipline of the sport of volleyball and shows promise to be introduced as a new Paralympic sport in the LA 2028 Paralympic Games or beyond. Learn more about the U.S. Beach ParaVolley National Team.

Snow Volleyball

3 vs. 3

Snow volleyball is an emerging discipline that is played on the snow, allowing three players per side. Snow volleyball typically requires unique equipment to help players compete in tough conditions, often including soccer cleats, gloves and a unique specialized ball specific to snow volleyball. USA Volleyball currently fields teams in snow volleyball to compete in international events with the long term goal of adding snow volleyball as a winter sport to the Winter Olympic Games. Learn more about the U.S. Snow Volleyball National Team.

(Video) Team USA Volleyball vs. PRO Spikeball Team!

Rules FAQs

(Video) Volleyball Rules for Beginners | Easy Explanation | Rules, Scoring, Positions and Rotation


What are the basic rules of volleyball? ›

Volleyball Basic Rules
  • Server must serve from behind the end line (dark green/blue) 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 the other side for a point.

What are the rules for Olympic volleyball? ›

Olympic Volleyball Rules

The main rules of Olympic volleyball are the same as the International Volleyball Federation rules: A match is played over a maximum of 5 sets, with a team winning if they get to 3 sets. Sets 1-4 are played to 25 points; if a fifth and final set is required, it is played to 15.

How many sets do you have to win in volleyball? ›

Matches are played best of five sets. The first four sets are played to 25 points, with the final set being played to 15 points. A team must win a set by two points. There is no ceiling, so a set continues until one of the teams gains a two-point advantage.

What is the new rules in volleyball 2022? ›

The playing surface colour of the front and back zones may be different. The coaches' restriction line was deleted. The penalty area with chairs was deleted (the team dressing room is used instead) A team may have up to 14 players but only two may be VS2.

What is not allowed in volleyball? ›

Players are not permitted to scoop, hold, and lift or push the ball. The ball may never be contacted with an open-hand underhanded motion. In addition, during the first hit of the team, except when serving, the ball may contact various parts of the body consecutively, provided the contacts occur during one action.

What are the 5 basic violations in volleyball? ›

  • 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 top of the net only with any part of the body while the ball is in play. ...
  • Reaching over the net, except under these conditions:
1 Sept 2013

How are points scored in volleyball? ›

A point is scored when a team wins a rally.

They do this in one of two ways. If your team sends the ball over the net and the defending team fail to return the ball, you score a point. You can also win a point if the other team hit the ball out of the designated court boundary.

Are Olympic volleyball rules different? ›

The game features two teams playing at a time, and each team tries to win a match by winning three of five sets for indoor volleyball and two of three sets in beach volleyball. Olympic volleyball uses the same rules as the International Volleyball Federation.

How many sets are in Olympic volleyball? ›

Match. Olympic volleyball matches are best-of-five sets. In the first four sets, the team that first reaches 25 points with a minimum lead of two points wins the set. There is no ceiling, so a set continues until one team gains a two-point advantage.

How many hits are allowed on each side? ›

( A ) There is a maximum of three hits per side. ( B ) A player may not hit the ball twice in succession ( A block is not considered a hit ). On the first contact of a side, a player may double contact the ball (on a volley). ( C ) The ball may be played off the net.

What does 3 mean in volleyball? ›

3: A 3 (also referred to as a 32 or 33) is a nice high set between the middle hitter and outside hitter.

How many minutes is volleyball played? ›

Since the match can last for either two or three sets, there is no set time limit for this particular type of game. Generally, a single volleyball set will last anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, so a best 2-of-3 match can be expected to last from 60 to 90 minutes.

Can a libero score a point? ›

The guys from another team also make a mistake and the ball directly hit by a libero is landing in their court. In that case, libero scores a point. It's legal, because the libero didn't have an intent to score a point. His intent was just to deliver a ball.

Can you kick the ball in volleyball? ›

Of all the rules in Volleyball, ball handling is probably the most misunderstood. The ball is allowed to touch any part of the players' body from head to toe as long as the contact is legal. Yes, a player can kick the ball, which is a legal contact.

How many periods are there in volleyball? ›

Volleyball matches are played to the best of five sets. The first four sets are played to 25 points, with the final set being played to 15 points. A team must win a set by two points. There is no ceiling, so each set continues until one of the teams gains a two-point advantage.

How many legs are allowed in volleyball? ›

A team may touch the ball no more than three times. The same player can't touch the ball twice in a row. Once somebody on the other team touches the ball, you get three more tries to put it over the net and in.

What is the most important rule in volleyball? ›

The primary objective in volleyball is to make the ball hit the floor on the opponent's side of the court, while preventing your opponent from doing the same on your side of the court. Each team is allowed a maximum of three contacts/hits with the ball before it must be sent across the net.

Who serves first in volleyball? ›

2.2 A coin toss at the beginning of the match will determine the choice of court or service. The team which does not serve first in game one will serve first in game two. Teams must switch sides between the first two games. A coin toss will be conducted for the choice if there is a third game.

Why is there a 3 limit hit in volleyball? ›

Inspiration for the three-hit limit

This number of limits in hitting the ball was based by American volleyball players from the Filipino way of letting each player hit the ball before sending or "volleying" it over to the side of the opponent team.

Can a player touch the net in volleyball? ›

A player is allowed to touch the net as long as it does not interfere with the play. Interference includes, but is not limited to the following: Touching the top band of the net or the top 80 cm of the antenna during his/her action of playing the ball. Taking support from the net simultaneously while playing the ball.

When can you hit the ball 4 times in volleyball? ›

In volleyball, a team, which consists of six players, is only allowed to make contact with the ball a maximum of three times before passing it over the net to the opposing team. If a team touches the ball more than three times when it is on their side of the net, they will be issued a four hits violation.

What's the hardest position in volleyball? ›

Setting might look like a piece of cake, but it is the hardest position in volleyball for many reasons. One reason is that as a setter, it is their job to get the second ball up to one of their hitters, even if the first pass was not any good.

How does a volleyball game end? ›

Volleyball games are played to 25 points with the need for a two-point margin of victory. Games consist of five sets, and teams must win three out of five sets to win. The final set is first to 15 points.

Can you score in volleyball when not serving? ›

Rally scoring is a system used in volleyball in which a point is scored on every single rally. It doesn't matter which team serves the ball; points can be scored by either the serving or the receiving team.

Can you spike a serve in volleyball? ›

The answer is that yes, it is illegal to block or spike the serve in volleyball. The rules are very clear about this they're designed that way to promote an overall enjoyable and competitive game.

How many positions are there in volleyball? ›

There are six positions on a volleyball court, and each position serves a unique role in the success of the team. Just like other competitive teams, you need to depend on each player to not only do their job but do their job well.

What is the height of volleyball net? ›

The net is 2.43m high for men and 2.24m high for women. It is placed vertically over the centre line. It is 1m wide and 9.5m‑10m long and is 10cm square black mesh. The height of the net is measured from the centre of the playing court.

What are the 10 rules of basketball? ›

What Are the Rules of Basketball?
  • Only five players per team on the court. ...
  • Score more than your opponent to win. ...
  • Score within the shot clock. ...
  • Dribbling advances the ball. ...
  • The offense has five seconds to inbound the ball. ...
  • The offense must advance the ball. ...
  • Ball and ballhandler must remain inbounds.
7 Jun 2021

What are the 5 basic skills in volleyball? ›

The following are described: serving, passing (forearm underhand passing), setting (overhead passing), attack options (hitting/spiking), blocking (from attack and defend positions), and defensive skills (rolling & sliding).

Are there 17 laws in soccer? ›

Currently there are 17 specific key items that determine the rules of soccer: Field of play, the Ball, Number of Players, Player's Equipment, Referee, Assistant Referee, Duration of Match, Start and Restart of Play, Ball In and Out of Play, Scoring, Offsides, Fouls and Misconduct, Free Kicks, Penalty Kicks, Throw In, ...

What is the 3 law of football? ›

A match is played by two teams, each with a maximum of eleven players; one must be the goalkeeper. A match may not start or continue if either team has fewer than seven players.

Who is the father of football? ›

Walter Camp is credited with altering the rules of rugby to create the game of modern North American football we are familiar with today. The line of scrimmage, use of downs, point system, the number of players per side, and the creation of the quarterback position all stemmed from Walter Camp's influence.

What is a jump stop? ›

The jump-stop is an important footwork fundamental that all players must learn. The jump stop is executed by the player, who is on the run, taking one small step and then landing on both feet simultaneously in balance (not leaning forward). The jump stop can be used at the end of a dribble.

What are the 5 basic rules of football? ›

FIFA Laws of the Game can be accessed here
  • Teams will be told which way they are kicking at start of game.
  • Teams cannot score directly from a kick off.
  • There is no offside.
  • All free kicks and corners are direct and opposition must be 3 metres away.
  • Goal kicks to be taken anywhere inside penalty area.
1 Jan 2022

How long can a player hold the ball in basketball? ›

5 second rule

On an inbound pass, a player may only hold on the ball for a maximum of 5 seconds. In the game, if a player is closely guarded, they must start dribbling, passing the ball or attempting a shot within five seconds. Upon violation of this rule, an inbound pass is awarded to the oppossing team.

Why is the libero not allowed to serve? ›

Why The Change To Allow Serving? The original concept behind the libero position was that they were strictly a defensive position that was created to sustain rallies by improved digging and better passing. They were not to be included in virtually any offense.

What is the hardest skill in volleyball? ›

Setting might look like a piece of cake, but it is the hardest position in volleyball for many reasons. One reason is that as a setter, it is their job to get the second ball up to one of their hitters, even if the first pass was not any good.

What are 6 basic hits in volleyball? ›

Passing, serving, setting, spiking, blocking and digging are the six basic skills of volleyball which are the first things varsity players need to learn about the sport.

How many points is a goal worth? ›

Each goal is worth one point for the team. Therefore, if a team scored one goal in the game, they earned one point.

What is hand ball rule? ›

A player may stop, catch, throw, bounce or strike the ball in any manner and in any direction, using hands, fists, arms, head, body, thighs or knees. However, a player may not intentionally touch the ball with any part of the body below the knee. The ball is almost always played with the hands.

What is a dribble fault? ›

A dribble fault is the same thing as a double dribble in basketball. A player cannot dribble, then hold the ball, then dribble again. The ball is awarded to the other team on a dribble fault. If a player commits a foul, they are given a yellow card like in soccer.


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