Basic Volleyball Rules and Regulations For Scoring, Rotation Serving and the Court 

These basic regulations cover volleyball scoring, rotation rules, serving rules, officials, court and net information 

2017 NCAA Champion Nebraska Huskers court - photo by Manoosh - Improve your volleyball by knowing the basic rules.Knowing the basic volleyball rules improves your game. Photo by Manoosh

The basic volleyball rules on this page are the bare essentials of what you must know as a high school  player trying out for your varsity team.  

Even though there are different disciplines of the sport like two person vs. two person, four player vs four player, these rules focus on the six person vs. six person style normally played in high school and collegiate matches and competition.  

Basic Volleyball Rules about the 
Court, the Net, the Antenna

  • Each team plays on a half court 30 x 30 feet
  • The two half courts are divided by a net
  • The full court on which two teams compete against each other is 30 feet by 60 feet
  • The two sidelines are the longest boundaries on the court
  • The two endlines are the shortest boundaries on the court and they connect the sidelines
  • The centerline runs under and parallel to the net and divides the full court into two half courts. 
  • A ten foot line appears on both half courts and divides each half court into one third which marks the front court area commonly called the front row

Basic Volleyball Rules: NFHS Court DiagramBasic Volleyball Rules: NFHS Court Diagram

  • Net height for high school girls is 7' 4 1/8
  • Net height for high school boys is 7' 11 5/8"
  • Two antennae are placed on each end of the net over the sidelines marking the vertical boundary of the court 

Basic Volleyball Rules about the Officials

The first referee

  • calls the game from an elevated stand watching for common volleyball faults
  • calls volleyball fouls, assigns points and hideouts
  • final decision maker on questionable plays
  • assigns violations and issues red or yellow cards 
  • calls timeouts when requested properly
  • watches the top of the net for adults during play
  • runs the coin toss between captains and instructs them about basic pre-game rules and rituals 
  • check scoresheet and sign it

Second referee

  • Calls the game from the opposite side of the net across from the first referee while standing on the ground
  • monitors each team's rotation order while in serve receive
  • monitors scoring table, score and scoresheet
  • watches action on the bottom of the net
  • monitors substitution zone and libero entry and exit
  • checks scoresheet and signs it at end of the match

Basic Volleyball Rules about the Players

  • A team can hold a roster of 12 -14 players 
  • Only 6 players can be on the court to compete
  • Three (3) players are allowed in the front row and three (3) are backcourt players
  • Each team has one libero allowed to be on the court during a rally 
  • Each team needs 1-2 players designated as a captain
  • Only the captain(s) represents the team during the coin toss to determine who serves first and when talking to the referee during a rally 

Basic Volleyball Rules
For Scoring, Contacting The Ball

  • A volleyball match is played with the best 2 sets out of 3 or the best 3 sets out of 5
  • A set is a game played between two teams until one team scores 25 points first 
  • The winner of a match is the first team to win two sets out of three or three sets out of five
  • If playing a five set match, a team can lose 2 sets in a row but must win the remaining three sets to be declared winner of the match 
  • At the end of playing four sets, if both teams are tied at two sets apiece a tie break set is played. The winner of the tie break set, is the winner of the match 
  • Tie break matches are played to 15. The team that scores 15 points first, wins the match
  • In some competitions, when the first team scores seven points, the teams must switch sides before play is allowed to continue
  • Teams use rally scoring during competition where the team that wins the rally regardless of who serves wins a point 
  • A player can score a point by contacting the ball with any part of their body, they can even kick a ball 
  • Only one consecutive contact is permitted per player. A player cannot contact the ball twice in a row. 
  • The ball can contact the net and be played off the net during a rally
  • A player in the backrow can attack hit a ball as long as they take off from behind the ten foot line
  • A backrow hitter can land in front of the ten foot line as long as they have contacted the ball before they land in the front row
  • A setter can attack hit a ball as long as she is in the front row

A ball is out if: 

  • it contacts the antenna before going out
  • it lands anywhere outside of the opposing team's court without being touched or landing on a boundary line

Basic Volleyball Rotation Rules:

  • The starting rotation is determined by the coach when he fills in his lineup sheet with the starting six players at the beginning of each set
  • If the team has a libero, the libero starts on the court while the referee checks the lineup, then they return to the bench until its time for them to come in
  • After the first serve of the match, both teams must rotate clockwise after they win a rally so a new server serves in each rotation
  • If the serving teams wins the rally, they get a point, the right to serve again, they do not rotate
  • If the serving team loses the rally, the opposing team gets to serve but must rotate first so the same server doesn't serve twice
  • A player must rotate to all three positions without skipping a position in the front row before rotating to the backrow
  • A player must rotate to all three positions without skipping a position in the backrow before rotating to the front row

Volleyball Rules: Where Do You Go From Here?

Where do you need to go now?

Here are three options: 

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

Learn more from these volleyball rules pages!

  1. Improve Your Volleyball
  2.  ›
  3. Important Rules of Volleyball All Varsity Players Should Know
  4.  ›
  5. Volleyball Game Rules: For Scoring, Skills, Rotation and Regulations
  6.  ›
  7. Basic Rules For Scoring, Rotation, Serving and the Court

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