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Volleyball Rules and Regulations

A very general description of Volleyball Rules &

Two teams of 6 players each (with substitutes) play the sport of volleyball, on a court
that is divided by a net.
The object of the sport is to hit an inflated ball (the volleyball) over the net, such that
the opposing team cannot return the ball either because the ball has been grounded
(i.e. the volleyball has touched the court surface within the defined boundaries of the
opposing teams court), or the ballisreturned back over the net but lands outside of
the defined boundaries of the opponents court.
Each team has a maximum of 3 hits to get the ball over the net to the opponents side
of the court within the boundaries.
The play begins with one team serving the ball over the net to the other team, which in
turn has the three hits allowed to get the ball back over the net to the serving teams
Each team continues to attempt to ground the ball (or make it otherwise non-
returnable) in the opposing teams court. This process is called a rally once a team
wins a rally, they are awarded a point.
If the serving team wins the rally, it maintains the serve. If the team receiving the
Playing Area
In the vast majority of cases, indoor volleyball is played
in a multi-purpose gymnasium either at a school or
university, and the court lines are superimposed on the
floor along with basketball, badminton, handball, and so
forth. In national and world-level competition, the court
surface is usually dedicated only to the sport of
No matter the venue, the court dimensions are as
Legal & Illegal Hits in Volleyball
The basic rules of volleyball are well-known in terms of
legal and illegal hits. However, there are special
situations that have led to the creation of new rules to
define what is and is not an acceptable hit. Volleyball
rules are promulgated by the Federation Internationale
de Volleyball on the international level and the NCAA,
USA Volleyball and the National Federation of High
School Associations in America. The rules are essentially
the same on the high school, college and international
Basic Illegal Hits
You can't catch or hold the ball in regulation volleyball.
To insure that the ball is not held for a split second on
scoop shots, you can't use open palms beneath the ball
to hit it. You can't throw the ball either. Double hits are
an example of a special situation. Double hits are legal
only on a team's first contact, such as digging out a
serve, but illegal on subsequent hits.
Conditional Legal Hits
Hits can be legal or illegal, depending on the situation.
For example, a team can only hit the ball three times
before it must go over the net to the opponent's side. A
fourth hit is illegal. However, a block does not constitute
a hit, so in that situation a team can block a shot and
then hit it three more times.
Special Circumstances
A ball that hits the net is live and still in action. That
applies to serves as well. Serves can't be hit or blocked
by the front line. Apart from the serve, you can't attack
a ball coming over the net until it has broken the plane
of the net. However, you can break the plane of the net
after the opponents have completed their attack by
using up their three hits. Although you can't hit the
ceiling with your serve, hitting the ceiling with any other
shot that goes into the opponent's court is allowed
under high school or college rules in the United States.
In volleyball, players work together to return the
ball over the net in three hits or fewer, without
letting the ball touch the ground. The USA
Volleyball and International Federation of
Volleyball rule books provide the standard rules
for competitive mens and womens volleyball in
the United States.
The standard competitive volleyball court measures 59
feet long by 29.6 feet wide. The center line runs under
the net, dividing the court into two equal sides. An
attack line runs 9 feet, 10 inches behind the net on each
side of the court. The attack line divides the front and
back zones. The net measures 8 feet, 11 5/8 inches tall
for standard mens competition and 7 feet, 4 1/8 inches
tall for standard womens competition, according to the
USA Volleyball and International Federation of Volleyball
rule books.
Both teams must have six players on the court to begin
play. Players follow the proper rotational order through
each set. Players rotate between six positions on the
court, including three back-row positions behind the
attack line and three front-row positions in front of the
attack line. Each time a team gains the right to serve,
its players must rotate one position clockwise. Once the
server contacts the ball, players can move out of their
rotational positions to play the point. Players in a back-
row position must not attack the ball above the net and
in front of the attack line, however.
Team captains complete a coin toss before the game to
determine the team that will serve first. The player in
the back right position in the rotation serves the ball. To
serve, players must stand behind the courts end line
and hit the ball out of the air. If the serve hits the net or
lands out of bounds, the servers team loses the point.
The same player continues to serve until his team loses
a point. When a team loses a point on its serve, the
other team gains the right to serve.
Teams must return the ball over the net in three hits or
fewer. Blocks do not count toward the teams hit total. If
one player hits the ball twice in succession or contacts
the ball illegally by palming, catching or throwing it, her
team loses the point. If a back-row player attacks the
ball illegally, his team loses the point. If any player
touches the net or net posts, her team loses the point.
Teams win points when the opposing team commits a
violation, fails to return the ball over the net, lets the
ball touch the ground inbounds or hits the ball into the
net or out of bounds.
Teams can win points on their own serve and on their
opponents serve, according to the USA Volleyball and
International Federation of Volleyball rule books. The
first team to win 25 points with a two-point lead wins
the set. The first team to win three sets wins the match.
If the match goes to a fifth set, the first team to win 15
points with a two-point lead wins the set and the match.