Volleyball Rules

We explain what the volleyball rules are regarding the field of play, the position of the players and the types of shots.

Volleyball rules
In volleyball two teams compete, each on one side of the net.

What are the rules of volleyball?

Volleyball, volleyball or volleyball It is a ball sport that is played in opposing teams, in which an inflatable ball is hit with the hands to make it pass over a net suspended in the center of the playing field. The team that allows the ball to touch the ground on its side of the net the most times will be defeated.

It is a relatively recent sport, which began to be practiced in the United States at the end of the 19th century, when in 1895 the YMCA physical education teacher (Young Men’s Christian Association“Young Men’s Christian Association”), William G. Morgan, was looking for an indoor sport that was not as aggressive as the newly invented basketball.

Originally the game was called mintonettebut soon its name changed to volleyballsince the players often volley the ball, that is, they hit it in the air, interrupting its trajectory.

Volleyball came to Europe along with American troops in World War I. Since then it has gained notoriety among sports until it became an Olympic sport in 1964, both in its male and female categories.

Its practice was especially popular in Eastern Europe, and nations such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria or the Soviet Union (and later Russia in its place) have traditionally been the great champions in this sport. Another very prominent country in women’s volleyball towards the end of the 20th century was Cuba.

See also: History of volleyball

General rules of volleyball

The general rules of volleyball are relatively simple. The two competing teams, each on one side of the net, they must hit the ball with hands and arms (or with any part of the body) in such a way that it passes over the net and falls on the enemy ground.

For it have a maximum of three consecutive hits before the ball passes over the net, and must keep it moving at all times, without holding it, stopping it or accompanying it in any way on its way. Furthermore, no player may hit the ball twice in a row.

The game normally starts with a serve made by the team in turn, and from then on both rivals alternate between:

  • attack phasesin which you have control of the ball.
  • defensive phasesin which the arrival of the ball over the net and the opponent’s movements are anticipated.
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During both phases, the players have a fixed position on their respective court, although they are allowed some freedom of movement within it. For no reason may players cross the net to the opponent’s court, nor pass the ball under it.

Finally, the ball must be in continuous movement during the play, and always suspended in the air. The play ends when one of the teams fails to return the ball, and it touches the ground or leaves the playing area..

Volleyball playing field and equipment

Playing field volleyball rules
The field of each team is divided into a defensive zone, away from the net, and an attack zone.

Volleyball teams are usually made up of 12 players, 6 of which may be on the court at the same time, and can be traded throughout the game with their benched teammates only once each. Each team has a court next to the net, clearly delimited by the lines of play, and at no time may they enter the opponent’s court.

The playing field is a flat, smooth and uninterrupted rectangle, 18 meters long by 9 meters wide. It is divided in its central line by the networksuspended at about 2.4 – 2.2 meters high, depending on the game category.

Around it there is a free zone, at least 3 meters wide, which separates the players from the public and where the game action can continue as long as the ball has not touched the ground. In addition, an amount of free space above the court of around 7 meters in height is required.

The field of each team is delimited by a bottom line and two side lines, within which the ball must touch the ground for it to be the opponent’s point. This space is also divided into a defensive zone, far from the net, and an attack zone much closer to it. There are usually two referees per game, located at both ends of the net and without entering the playing field.

Volleyball player positions and rotation

Within their respective court, the players must occupy six determined positions, which are:

  • Three forwards or attackers. Located in a straight line in the attack zone, facing the net.
  • Three defenders or defenders. Located in a straight line in the defensive zone, with their backs to the end line.
  • two liberos. Interchangeable players for a strictly defensive role, who can enter and leave the field of play during defense phases substituting for the other, as long as they are never on the pitch together. This can happen in the middle of a rally, but the return of the substituted player must wait until the end of the rally. The liberos fulfill strictly defensive roles and dress differently from the rest of the team.
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Normally, in a play, each player sticks to his position to cover a specific area on the court. Nevertheless, when the team achieves a point, its players must rotate their position clockwise, so that each one must play in all possible positions. This is known as rotation. However, by the time the play is kicked off, the players should already be clearly positioned on the court and waiting.

The ball and the volleyball net

The volleyball ball it’s spherical, inflated and leathery (or a similar synthetic material), and is usually light in color, predominantly white. It is considerably smaller and lighter than a basketball or soccer ball: It has a circumference of 65 cm and a weight of 260 g. about.

For his part, the net is one meter wide and is supported by two poles located at the ends of the center line. It must be tense at all times and has two white bands that mark its beginning and end at the top and bottom of its length. The fact that the ball touches the net does not imply the end of the play, nor the point for the opponent, unless it is a serve.

touches in volleyball

Volleyball rules touches
The reception is the touch with which the ball is received or intercepted after the opponent’s serve.

The ball can be hit in a number of ways throughout a play, typically:

  • serve or service. It is the touch that starts the play, and is done by projecting the ball with one hand in the air and then hitting it with the other, either above or below the shoulder. The idea is to get the ball past the net without interruption and look for the weak sides of the opposing team’s formation. This serve is done behind the baseline.
  • Reception. It is the touch with which the ball is received or intercepted after the opponent’s serve, joining both arms extended in front of the chest to hit the ball with the forearm or the region near the wrist. It is a critical touch in this sport, since it must not only prevent the opponent’s serve from touching the ground, but must also provide the team itself with the opportunity to put together a counter-offensive play.
  • Placement. It is the touch that normally follows a successful reception. It is done with the fingers of both hands, propelling the ball so that a third player can finish it off over the net. It is a precise, simple and fast touch, which can be done on the ground or during a jump.
  • attack or finish. It is normally the final touch of the three allowed to a team, and consists of hitting the ball hard so that it passes over the net and enters the opponent’s court, looking for the ground. The attack can also be done during the first plays, both from attacking position and from defensive position.
  • Blocking. It is the touch with which it seeks to prevent the opponent’s attack, that is, it is carried out from a defensive position. It consists of jumping parallel to the net, with both arms outstretched, looking for the ball to hit them and return to the opponent’s court, instead of opening the field towards one’s own.
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Sets and scoring in volleyball

A play ends in a point for one of both teams. Usually It is considered a point for the opponent if:

  • The ball touches the ground in the court itselfregardless of whether it was their own team or the opponent’s last to touch the ball.
  • During an attack the ball leaves the opponent’s field of play and touches the ground in or beyond the free zone. Also if during a play the ball touches the ceiling or hits the net or the posts on the outside side of the court.
  • The equipment itself incurs withholding or accompaniment of the ball, or if the reception occurs with the improper touch.
  • The team itself exceeds the maximum allowed of three touches continuous of the balloon.
  • At the time of a serve, the player of the same team that makes it steps on the bottom line or hits the net.

The team that scores the most points will win the game, the length of which, however, can be highly variable, since there is no pre-established playing time. A team must win three out of five sets to be considered victorious. Each set ends when a team reaches or exceeds 25 points with at least a 2-point advantage over their opponent (ie 25 to 23 points). If you do not have that advantage, you will continue playing until you reach it.

Any team that accumulates three sets won will be the final winner. But if the fifth set is reached without there being a clear winner, this tiebreaker set will be played to only 15 points, which must be won with a 2-point advantage over the rival (15 to 13).

Continue with: Types of sport


  • “Volleyball” on Wikipedia.
  • “Basic rules for playing volleyball” in Mundo Silbato.
  • “Rules of the International Volleyball League” in Volleyball International.
  • “Volleyball” in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.