Volleyball Rules For Dummies 
Scoring, Skills and Rotation Regulations


Volleyball rules for dummies reviews the regulations for basic skills, for volleyball scoring and for playing actions allowed and not allowed in the game.

Volleyball Rules For Dummies: 
The Court


  • The playing area for a court is in the shape of a large rectangle that measures 30 feet by 60 feet.   
  • The longest lines are the sidelines and the shortest lines of the rectangle are the endlines. 





  • On each court half, there's a ten foot line which divides the half court into thirds. 



  • The front third of the court is called the front zone.

It runs from the centerline to the ten foot line and is the line that front row players stay in front of when they are performing their blocking defensive skills in volleyball when their team is on defense.



  • The two-thirds of the court which run from the ten foot line to the endline is called the backcourt and is where the backrow players stay when playing in defense.  



If during a rally, you attack hit a ball that goes into the opposing team's court and the ball hits any part of the boundary line (sideline, endline)...that ball is considered "In" the court. 

Point for your team. Serve for your team.


Volleyball Rules for Dummies 
Serving and Rotation Zones 




Left front area is Zone 4.    

Middle front area is Zone 3.  

Right front area is Zone 2.  

Left back area is Zone 5.    

Middle back area is Zone 6 

Right back area is Zone 1


Volleyball Rules For Dummies
Rotation Rules


  • After a team wins the right to serve, the volleyball rotation rules state they have to rotate clockwise so the same player does not serve twice. 


The player who was in Zone 1 moves to their left rotating to Zone 6 the middle back area of the court...

Zone 6 player moves out of the middle back area to the  to the area on their left, the left back area on the court, rotating to Zone 5...

Zone 5 player moves up to the left front area on the court rotating up to the front row in Zone 4...

Zone 4 player moves to their right rotating over to Zone 3 the middle front area of the court...

Zone 3 player moves over to their right rotating over to the right front area of the court to  Zone 2...

Zone 2 player moves back to the right back area of the court moving them to the back of the court which rotates them back row to Zone 1...


Volleyball Rules For Dummies:
Stay in the Court


  • Players on both sides must be inside the court at the point of service (when the ball is served)

  • Players on a team must stay within their half court during reception of serve.
  • Players can go off the court to retrieve a ball back into their court as long as they stay within the designated playing area.


Volleyball Rules For Dummies:
The Net


The net is placed on top of the centerline and runs parallel to the endlines and perpendicular to the sidelines. 

According to official volleyball game rules, the net's purpose is to separate the two opposing teams and to create a barrier for the ball to cross over after being contacted a maximum of three times by each team.


Volleyball Rules for Dummies: The purpose of the Volleyball net is to separate the two competing teams and to create a barrier for the ball to pass over during a rally.Volleyball Rules for Dummies: The purpose of the Volleyball net is to separate the two competing teams and to create a barrier for the ball to pass over during a rally.


The official volleyball net height in the women's game is 7 feet 4 1/8 inches.

For the men's game the official net height is 7 feet 11 5/8 inches. 


Volleyball Rules For Dummies:
Don't Touch The Net


  • You cannot touch the net while the ball is in play.


Volleyball Rules For Dummies: 
Volleyball Serving Rules


  • If you serve the ball over the net and the ball touches the net on its way over, then bounces into the opposing team's court

a) the ball hits the floor - if it hits the floor inside the opposing team's half court then its a  Point for your team. Your team gets to serve again. This is called an "ace" serve.

a) the ball hits the floor - if it hits the floor outside the opposing team's half court and none of the opposing team's players touched the ball before it hit the floor, Point for the opposing team. Opposing team gets to serve. 

  • If you serve the ball over the net and the ball does not touch the net on its way over, but lands outside the opposing team's half court

a) ball is out of bounds. This is called a "sideout."

Point goes to the opposing team because you served out of bounds. Opposing team gets to serve. 

  • If you serve the ball into the net and the ball does not cross over the net  into the opposing team's half court

a) ball is out of bounds.

This is called a "sideout." Point goes to the opposing team because you served out of bounds. Ball goes to the opposing team to serve. 


Volleyball Rules For Dummies:
Playing Action


  • Each team is allowed three contacts of the ball. 
  • The third contact of the ball MUST go over the net and into the court of the opposing team to either

a) score a point - if it hits the floor inside the opposing team's half court. Point for your team. Your team gets to serve again.

b) continue the rally - because the opposing team played the ball on their first contact keeping it from hitting the floor inside their half court

c) end the rally - because the ball hit the floor outside of the opposing team's half court. Point for the opposing team. Opposing team gets to serve. 


Volleyball Rules For Dummies:
Volleyball Scoring: How To Score A Point 


A team can score a point by

a) completing an action, whether its with a

1. soft hit 

2. hard hit 

3. a block

that results in the ball hitting the floor on the opposing team's half court before the opposing team can contact it to get it up and back into your team's court. 

b) the opposing team committing a "fault" which is a mistake or an error like

1. touching the net 

2. mishandling the ball 

3. being out of rotation

A fault is a playing action that the rules of volleyball do not allow. 

c) the opposing team getting a penalty, like a sanction from the referee


Volleyball Rules for Dummies 
What's a rally?


A rally always begins with a serve by the team on defense to the receiving team who gets three chances to contact the ball with the third contact having to go  over the net.


Then the opposing team gets three contacts on the ball to get the ball, BACK over the net...this back and forth will continue until the ball hits the floor or goes out on someone's side.

This back and forth exchange between the two teams sending the ball back and forth over the net into each other's court is called a rally. 

When the ball hits the floor, the rally is a completed rally and the team who won the rally  is awarded a point. 


Volleyball Scoring Examples


What happens 

If the serving team wins the rally

  1. they are awarded a point
  2. receives the ball to serve again
  3. they do not rotate
  4. the same player who served the ball, gets to serve again 


The receiving team

  1. gets no points but
  2. gets another chance to win the rally, but must receive the serve
  3. must continue the rally without committing any faults 

When they (the receiving team) do win the rally, their players will rotate one position, so the last person who served, during the last rally they won, will NOT serve again.

For each new rally, the team rotates so they have a new server. 


If the serving team loses the rally...

  1. they lose the opportunity to continue serving 
  2. give the ball to the other team 
  3. get no points
  4. are now in serve receive
  5.  must win a rally in order to earn the chance to serve again and score a point


Volleyball Rules for Dummies
Rules For Players


  • Two teams of six players compete against each other separated by a net 
  • The opposing team of six the defensive team is serving to...is in serve receive also known as offense, serve reception, or receiving the serve. 

All these terms mean the same thing. 



Volleyball Rules For Dummies:  
What Players Can and Can't Do


During a rally a player can

  1. play the ball off the net
  2. make one contact on the ball 
  3. contact the ball again only after a teammate has contacted it, within the three contacts allowed per team
  4. can kick a ball over the net or to a teammate during a rally
  5. hit from the backrow as long as they are a backrow player who contacts the ball before landing on or over the ten foot line


During a rally a player cannot:

  1. make two consecutive contacts with the ball
  2. hold or catch or lift the ball
  3. hit the ball so it contacts the antenna on its way over into the opposing team's court
  4. block a serve that will land inside the ten foot line
  5. rotate out of zone or position or serve out of order
  6. commit an overlap in serve reception
  7. as blockers,  block the view of the opposing team passers from seeing the server on the serving team


Liberos


A libero is a specialized role for a player with superior defensive skills. 

The libero wears contrasting colored jerseys than her teammates so its easy to differentiate her from the rest of the team. 

This is because a libero can enter in and out of the backrow for a front row player when that front row player has rotated to the backrow to serve. 

Like a pinch hitter in baseball, the quicker, faster defensively skilled libero will play for that taller player in all three rotations for her in the back row.

The player she came in for, will return into the game when its time for the libero to rotate up to the front row. 


Volleyball Rules For Dummies:
What a Libero Can and Can't Do


A libero can:

  1. replace any player in the back row
  2. can serve after replacing the player in zone 1
  3. be outside the ten foot line and overhand set a front row player who can jump and hit the ball


A beginner's explanation of Olympic Volleyball Rules.

Watch this short video tutorial guide on how to play Volley ball under Olympic and FIVB rules.


A libero cannot:

  1.  jump and attack hit a ball when at contact, the entire ball is completely above the top of the net. This means liberos should generally stand and hit the ball over and not attempt to attack a ball like a tall player would. 
  2. block or attempt to block a ball
  3. be inside the ten foot line and set a front row player who then uses their spike approach to hit a ball that's above the level of the net. If a libero sets a ball to a front row hitter and she is inside the ten foot line, the hitter has to hit a down ball . 
  4. cannot enter the court, at the start of each set, until the second referee gives the go ahead after checking the team's rotation on the score sheet. 


Volleyball Rules For Dummies:  
What Can a Team Do?


A team can work together to score 25 points before the opposing team does. 

The team who is first to score 25 points and has an advantage of two points wins the set. 


Volleyball Rules For Dummies:
How To Win A Match


A "match" is a predetermined minimum number of maximum sets that will be played with a pre-declared minimum number of sets that must be won by one team in order to declare a winner. 

There are the best of five set competitions called "matches".

There are the best of three set competitions called "matches".

Most collegiate, club and international indoor matches are three out of five sets.  

  • The first team to win three sets of 25 points wins the match. 
  • Your team can win three in a row. If so your team wins the match.
  • Your team can win two sets, the opposing team wins one, then your team wins the fourth set. If so your team wins the match. 

The opposite applies.

  • If in any order, your team wins two sets and the opposing team wins two sets, then a fifth "tie breaking" set is played. 
  • Tie break sets are played to 15 and not 25 points. 


Rules of Volleyball: Where Do You Go From Here?

Good times! Where do you need to go now? Here are three options: 

  1. Learn more about the Court Size. 
  2. Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page Learning How To Play (Sitemap)
  3. Or visit the pages in the Volleyball Rules section in the drop down menu at the top of the page 


Recent Links: 


Rules of Volleyball

Rules for Dummies

Court Size

Court Dimensions

Court Lines

Net Height

Officials

Game Rules

Basic Rules 

Block Rules

Serve Rules


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