Volleyball Officials Who Are They
And What Do They Do?
Volleyball Referees, Linesmen and Scorers
What are their Responsibilities?
In competitive matches, volleyball officials are responsible for officiating
the two teams competing against each other.
Officials: First referee calls the game from an elevated referee stand while officiating the two teams competing against each other.
Volleyball officials at the school, club, national, and international level
for matches all have officials responsible for refereeing the match,
keeping score and watching the court during rallies to observe,
moderate and determine which of the two teams wins and making
sure both teams compete fairly by following official volleyball
Let's review the job descriptions, responsibilities and the roles of the
volleyball officials and referees and others who may be officiating your
next game on.
Why is knowing this information important?
The referee and other non-playing officials on the court have
a say in what happens during a game you are competing in.
Sometimes volleyball players agree with them, and lots of times players
Many times, players and coaches will compete in a tournament where
they may know how to interpret a rule better than one of the referees
officiating the game.
Knowing what the officials job responsibilities are can help you win a few
arguments should the occasion arise.
Below, I've described the responsibilities of the volleyball referees and
the people they work with.
What's a First Referee?
The first referee, aka the first official aka the 'up" referee starts the
match, judges each play and calls the technical fouls, assigns points
and sideouts as they occur to each qualifying team and also makes the
final decision on questionable plays.
He or she is called the "up" referee because they climb up and call the
game from an elevated volleyball stand.
The first referee watches the blockers for net touches, calls
the double hits, lifts, technical fouls, timeouts and starts each play with
a whistle blow to each server.
Here are a few more responsibilities of the first referee:
Before the match starts:
- They perform the coin toss with the team captains and moderates the beginning and ending time for warm ups
During the match:
- the first referee will issue warnings to teams
- can sanction misconduct delays of the game
- decides on possible faults of the players in service and the positions of the serving team, watching closely for screens
- the faults than can occur when the ball is being played
End of the match
- they check the score sheet and sign it
Volleyball Officials: What's a Second Referee?
The second referee is across from the first referee on the opposite side of
the net officiating the game from the ground.
The second referee, one of the volleyball officials, sometimes
known as the "down" referee assists and supports the first referee mainly
by calling fouls that occur under the net.
They watch a
a) team's rotation order to make sure players are in the
b) foot faults committed by the server or back row hitter,
c) answer questions and monitor the score and players being
substituted in and out of the substitution zone
d) also looks to the linesman for judgment calls when needed.
They also watch players on team benches who are in the warmup area,
controls and helps monitor both team's timeouts, communicates with
the scorer at the score table.
At the beginning of matches and at the beginning of each set, the
second referee checks each team's rotation based on how
each coach has entered their starting lineup on the lineup
During competition they whistle and signal ...
- any penetration into the opponent's court over the net or under the net
- any overlaps or out of position faults by the team in serve receive
- any time the ball touches the floor when the first referee can't see where or how it landed
At the end of the match, the second referee
- checks the score sheet and signs it
Volleyball Officials: What's a Scorer?
The scorer operates their functions from a table, the scorer's table which
is located behind the second referee.
Before the match begins the scorer...
- registers the numbers on jerseys and each team's lineup in the scorebook and lineup sheets
- gets the signatures of the captains and coaches
During the match...
- records the points scored by both teams, tracks timeouts and substitutions called
- monitors the service order for each team and notifies the second referee if a player serves out of order
- records yellow cards and red cards, misconduct warnings, sanctions and improper requests and controls the intervals between sets
- records other events like special substitutions, recovery time, long interruptions,
After the match the scorer...
- if there are any protests launched during the match, the scorer, with permission from the first referee will allow the captain of the team launching the protest, to write the details of their protest on the score sheet in a statement regarding the incident.
- signs the score sheet before obtaining the signatures of the team captains and then the referees
Volleyball Officials: What's a Linesman?
Depending on what type of game is being played, there are two
or four linesmen that stand on only two or all four corners of the
When there are two official linesmen one stands at the corner where
the sideline and the service line meet on one side and the other
linesman stands in the same place on the opposing team's side.
In official games, the linesmen will have a flag in their hands, if
not, then they will make their calls using their arms.
Their responsibility is to judge whether a volleyball has landed inside or
outside of the sidelines or service lines and to call any block touches.
Linesmen or linespersons use flags to
- indicate their calls of the ball being "in" or "out" when they call balls close to the sideline or endline
- touches on balls going out
- the ball touches the antenna, if it passes outside of the net and the third hit of a ball crossing over the net outside the crossing space
Rules of Volleyball: Where Do You Go From Here?
Where do you need to go now? Here are three options:
- Learn more about the USA Women in the Olympics
- Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page Learning How To Play (Sitemap)
- Or visit the pages in the History of Volleyball section in the drop down menu at the top of the page.