A thorough explanation of the indoor volleyball court zones and what player responsibilities are in each of them.
Let's get started.
There are six zones on an indoor volleyball court.
They are invisible and they form the key elements of each
rotation, which is a part of the game you should familiarize yourself
As I was saying, there are six zones on a court, three zones are in the
back court also referred to as the back row and three zones are in the
front court which is more commonly called the front row.
Let's start in the back row and talk about the most popular zone which
These are areas invisibly divided into six sections on the court that you
just have to know about as a player.
You'll hear people say the "RB" or " go right back" which is commonly
used as the volleyball terminology for the Zone 1 area.
After the referee blows the whistle, this is the area where the player
who has rotated into zone 1, will step outside of the endline before
putting the ball in play with a serve that sends it into the opposing
team's court which starts the rally between the two teams.
In recent years, the serving zone which was limited to outside
of the court behind the endline in zone 1, was increased to include the
area outside of the court behind the entire endline from one sideline to
So in the picture of the VCU volleyball player above, even though she
chose to serve the ball from the "traditional" right back service area
which is located just behind zone 1, outside of the endline, she was free
to move further to her left to attempt the same serve anywhere from
This means that when serving the ball, players must still remain outside
of the court before contacting the ball, but they can now step further
to their left and go anywhere along their endline, as long as they stay
within the volleyball court sidelines.
serve the ball, as long as they don't step on or over the line
before they contact the ball.
so for those that take measurements of volleyball courts in meters,
that's two meters behind the endline.
If you're one of those people who like to take volleyball court
measurements in feet, then I repeat, that's six feet of space allotted to
those who need runway takeoff space for their jump serve or jump float
have to initiate from behind the service line, inside the the service
zone, which is indicated in red in the diagram above.
Indoor Volleyball Court Terminology for Zone 6 - "Middle Back"
With the exception of the first serve of the game, a team must rotate
one position after they've been granted the right to serve the ball.
So, if you are the player in zone 1 at the very start of the game, and
you're on the team that won the right to serve first, then you would be
your team's first server.
passing the ball because they are receiving the serve, then after your
team wins their first point, they also win the right to serve the ball for
the first time.
the team that's receiving the serve, you wouldn't be the first server,
you would rotate to zone 6 and your team's first server is the player
behind you that is rotating from zone 2, the right front position to zone
1 the right back position, that is your team's first server.
The "MB" or "middle back" is one of the commonly used court
terms that describes the part of the court called Zone 6.
Indoor Volleyball Court: Zone 5 - "Left Back"
The "LB" or "left back" is commonly used terminology that
means Zone 5 on an indoor court.
Once your new server has served the ball, this player in zone 5 will do
is about to serve the ball.
This is the more common option for less advanced and beginner
volleyball teams that aren't running any strategic defensive plays.
defense or defend the right back area or zone 1 of their side of the
This is a common occurrence in defense among advanced teams,
when a right side player like the setter or the opposite hitter has rotated
into one of the left side zones in the front row or the back row.
They will switch with the left side player to play defense in the
position they are trained to specialize in, located on the right side of
c) If this player is an agile player in defense or a libero they may be
asked by the coach to switch places with the player in the middle back
position, zone 6, so they can defend the middle back area of the indoor
There's much more area of zone 6 to cover so a coach will often
volleyball player #9 in the right front zone in this rotation, will switch to
play in the left front area in the front row since she's a left side hitter.
Once she makes the switch, she will block on the left side and in
transition when her team gets the ball she will hit on the left side
because...she's a left side player and that's what she spends hours in
practice training to become the best left side player she can be.
Her teammate who's number we can't see but is behind her in the front
row, will switch to play in zone 2, the right front zone, while #6 the
If their team is serving, then the right side players which are the setters
and the opposite hitters, will switch with the left side players or middle
blockers in order to play in their specialized position, which is located in
a right side zone on the court, during a rally.
Those zones don't move, or change they stay the same, only players
move in and out of these zones, after their team wins the right to serve.
In other words, what moves are the different players that rotate into and
the front court are also positioned to switch with each other in order to
play in their specialized positions once the referee blows the whistle.
When the rally ends they switch back to the zone they were in before
the referee blew the whistle that started the rally.
also called the back zone, in volleyball terminology and this is where the
three back row players play defense and serve receive.
Remember once a player rotates to the back row, if they need to switch
with another player on defense, they can only do it with another player
in the back row.
The same goes for players in the front row.
Another thing that occurs in the back court happens when a setter
Have you ever been on a team that has one strong hitter?
And when that hitter rotates to the back court, the setter seems to run
out of options as to who she can set the ball to since the players in the
front row aren't strong enough hitters?
In this case, the setter can set the strong hitter that has rotated to
the back court. That strong hitter can attack the ball from the back
court as long as they stay behind the ten foot line when they contact
If they start their spike approach steps from behind the ten foot line, then
hit the ball while they are in the air above the ten foot line and then land
in front of it, that is still a legal hit.
Zone 4 is the first front court zone a player will rotate into once, they
have rotated up to the front row.
The "LF" or "left front" is common volleyball terminology which refers to
the Zone 4 area of the court.
Zone 4 is where left side hitters and blockers train to excel in playing
when they are in the front row.
When on defense, regardless of the rotation they find themselves in, left
side players will switch with either the middle blocker or
the right side player, after the whistle blows, to play in zone 4 in the front
row or zone 5 in the back row because these are the two left side zones
on the court.
Zone 3 is the middle front zone which is opposite to or in front of Zone 6
the middle back area in the back row.
The "MF" or "middle front" is common court volleyball terminology
used to describe Zone 3.
Many times, when a middle blocker has to rotate to the back
row, a libero will come into the game to take their place since they
are a defensive specialist and train specifically to be better suited to
playing in the back court.
They will usually play in Zone 6 or Zone 4 until its time for them to rotate up
to the front row where the middle blocker will reenter the game.
The "RF" or "right front" is commonly used volleyball terminology for
she's already 1-2 steps away from her setter target zone area which is for
most teams between zone 2 -3.
From here is where she wants to be along the net, so that she can run her
team's offense by setting her hitters during a rally.
The free zone is marked by a limited amount of space that
is outside of the court boundary lines.
The libero has a special place of her own when she enters the
comes in to take the place of the front row hitter she is going to play the
back row for.
The libero doesn't have to wait to enter the game, she can go right in as
long as she enters in and out of the areas marked in red on the indoor
volleyball court diagram above.
This area is designated to players who are coming in to substitute a
teammate during a game.
The red zone on the indoor volleyball court diagram indicates where the
substitution zone is located.
Along the sidelines, the substitution zone is located between the
attack line and the centerline and is where the player coming from the
bench and the player coming off the court have to pause and
wait until the referee acknowledges that the substitution can be made.
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