Learning How To Play Volleyball: Beginners Rules, Skills and Positions

Learn The Rules, Positions and Skills To Play Volleyball

So you're interested in learning how to play volleyball?

First let's get you familiar with the basic rules of the game.

Then you'll need to know the six basic skills before learning how to

play volleyball.

Let's start with a simple list of the basic volleyball rules....

Learning How To Play Volleyball by the Rules

Learning How To Play Volleyball: How Does A Team Play?

The Rally, The Referee, The Court

  • Three players on a team stay in the front court  and three players stay in the back court. During a rally, players cannot switch from front court to back court. During a rally a front row player can switch positions with a front row player on her team only after the head referee has blown the whistle to start the rally
  • In addition to front row and back row, there are six invisible zones on each court. 
  • In the back row the right back area is Zone 1, the middle back area of the back row is Zone 6, the left back area is Zone 5, 
  • Moving up to front row the left front area starting from inside the ten foot line to the net is called Zone 4, moving to the right to the middle of the net area is Zone 3 and again moving clockwise to the right is Zone 2. 
  • Players rotate clockwise every time their team wins the rally. The player who rotates to Zone 1 is the player who serves to start the rally. Teams do not rotate until they win a rally

Learning How To Play Volleyball: How Does a Team Win?

Errors, Points, Rotations and Scoring


Now that we've discussed a few simple game rules, let's review

the basic skills you need to know before learning how to play


Learning How To Play Volleyball: Serving in Volleyball

First, you'll have to learn how to serve a ball

What is the serve?

1. The ball is sent over the net to start the rally by the player in

Zone 1 , the right back area of the court. 

2. The serve can be made underhand but for high school, club,

collegiate and International competition you need to know how

to overhand serve the ball. Overhead contact of the ball by a player

is made when you first toss the ball with one hand in the air and

contact it with force with the other hand in an effort either

a) to score a point directly which happens if the ball hits the floor on the opposing team's court with no one able to get it up first or you

b) serve the ball in an area on the opposing side which makes it difficultfor the opposing team to run an offensive attack

Once the referee blows the whistle to start the rally you have 8 seconds

to complete your serve routine and get the ball over the net.

Once you toss the ball in the air you must contact the ball to

send it over the net or let the ball drop without touching it again

until it hits the floor first. 

If you let the ball drop to the floor, the referee will blow the whistle again

and this time you have five seconds to serve the ball over the net.  

Learning How To Play Volleyball: Volleyball Passing

Next you'll need to learn how to pass or bump a volleyball.

Passing a volleyball or bumping a volleyball are two ways to explain the

same underhand technique of receiving the serve

What is passing a ball?

The pass or the bump is used to describe the most commonly used

technique to make the first contact of the ball after its been

served into your court by an opposing team. 

The pass is a service reception technique used to contact a ball

that's entered your court area when your team is on offense.

When the ball arrives at just above your hip level you clasp both hands

together, one palm inside the other, pointing both thumbs to the ground.

This creates a platform with both arms that you use to contact

the ball deflecting it from your angled platform to the person most

responsible for making the second contact on the ball, your setter. 

The two players in the positions who pass the majority of the balls served

by an opposing team are called outside hitters and liberos. 

The libero is a back row specialist responsible for passing most

of the balls served to the backrow and plays defense only in the


The outside hitters both left side specialist and right side

specialist play in the front row when their team is on offense they

move back to the middle of the court to help receive serve.

Learning How To Play Volleyball: What is Setting? 

What is a set?

A set is a way you contact the ball over your head to get the ball

to travel from you to another person or over the net .

  • Both arms are outstretched above your head with shoulders close to your ears.
  • Once the ball contacts the fingertips of your hands you push it back up into the air towards your target, setting the ball up for the next person to contact it. 

The set is usually the second contact in a rally and the person who

sets the ball the most is called the setter. 

The setter on a volleyball team is like a point guard on a basketball team

who runs the offense and calls the plays. 

If you are the setter on your team, you determine who gets to hit

the next ball and how high and how fast the set they hit will be. 

Different sets have different heights and are delivered to different

locations along the net.

For example a four set is a very high ball that's delivered outside

to Zone 4 and the five set is a high ball that's delivered backwards over

the head of the setter to Zone 2. 

There are a number of sets to understand which you will do as you

learn more about how to play volleyball. 

Learning How To Play Volleyball: What is an Attack Hit? 

An attack hit or a spike describes the technique commonly used

for the third contact in a rally that sends the ball over the net with


A spike starts with an approach of three but most often four steps.

The first two slow and the last two bigger and faster steps that

propel you in the air gathering momentum as you go, to lift you

above the top of the net so you contact the ball at its highest height to

attack or hit it down into the opposing court. 

As you become a better spiker and your hitting technique

improves, you will learn to spike faster and quicker sets that are lower to

the net. 

You will also be able to better control the direction of your

spikes, propelling the ball either down the line or cross court into the

opposing team's court. 

Learning How To Play Volleyball: What is a Block? 

A block is the first opportunity for a team on defense to keep the

team on offense from hitting into their court. 

Once the whistle blows and your team serves the ball over the net, your

team is on defense, ready to defend your court.

Your team is trying to keep the opposing team, now on offense, from

putting the ball on your court floor. 

The first opportunity to do that is at the net. 

The three players in your front row are blockers standing with

their arms above their shoulders watching the opposing team

pass the ball then set the ball, then hit the ball..

When they hit its the job of the blockers to block the ball back into their

court so that it doesn't come over the net. 

If the block stops the ball at the net and the ball goes back to

the opposing teams floor, that's a point for the block, your team,

your team gets to rotate and serve. 

If the block does not stop the ball, then your three players in the back row

have to get the ball up to keep the rally going. 

The primary blocker in the front row, and usually the tallest player on

the team is the middle blocker. Her job is travel back and forth along the

net to help the other two blockers stop the ball from coming into her

team's court.

On defense the middle blocker blocks all along the net, on

offense she will hit and attack primarily from Zone 3, the central

area of the net. 

Learning How To Play Volleyball: What's a Dig?

A dig is what happens when the ball gets past the defensive team's front

row blockers who couldn't stop the ball at the net. 

Now its the responsibility of the three back row players on

defense to keep the ball off the floor. 

They do that by "digging the ball".

The :dig" is an underhand technique that describes the first

contact of a ball in a rally that's been sent over the net with


To "dig a ball" you are in a defensive position, most frequently in

the back row, or if you aren't blocking in the front row and you are

positioned outside of your front row blockers as they jump to block a

hard driven ball.

You sink your hips low to the floor, below the ball before it gets to

you and you use your extended arms in your platform to "dig" or deflect

the ball up in the air. 

If you are the 'digger" or defender your job is to dig the ball up

high enough in the air and ideally to the middle of the court close to

the ten foot line, so that the second contact in the rally can be made.

This second contact is most often made by the setter who runs to

this ball where ever it has been dug up to on the court and sets it up

to one of her front row hitters, so they can attack it with the third hit so that

the rally continues. 

This was a very basic run through of what a beginner player needs to

know before learning how to play volleyball to win.

Now its time to dig deeper into all the history of the sport and

especially the skills, rules, positions and terminology used so you

can take your game playing abilities to the next level

Learning How To Play Volleyball: Where Do I Go From Here?

What you just read was just  a warmup!

Just like in volleyball practice, you do a little stretching to warm up your

muscles before getting into the real meaty part of practice.

Here you go through a light review of everything before you really begin

to dig deep and take each rule, each position, each skill and really

explore it, learn to do tons of reps and go over each drill repeatedly until

you get it right. 

Read...  How To Play Volleyball and Win to get started...

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