Top 12 Volleyball Block Rules and Rule Violations You Must Know

Learn What's Legal And What Common Faults and Fouls Are Not Allowed 

Improve your volleyball by knowing the USA volleyball block rules. Photo by Chris DainesImprove your volleyball by knowing the USA block rules. Photo by Chris Daines

Volleyball block rules are established so players, teams and coaches compete fairly in their quest to win a match. 

This page is written to provide you with important information that should help you improve your defensive skills in volleyball.  

Make sure when you get to the front row, you know what you can do and what you can't do while blocking a ball.

USA Volleyball Block Rules: Learn The Basics

Volleyball Block Rules: Blocking is the first line of defense. You can jump and place your arms, hands and shoulders over the net to stop a hitter or setter from attacking the ball into your court.Volleyball Block Rules: Blocking is the first line of defense. You can jump and place your arms, hands and shoulders over the net to stop a hitter or setter from attacking the ball into your court.

Blocking is the first line of defense.  

To block well you are required to

  1. have good footwork  
  2. have great body control while moving laterally and vertically 
  3. read your hitter to anticipate where and how she plans to attack 
  4. penetrate your hands over the net to block the ball by deflecting it back into your opponents court

1. You can jump and place your arms, hands and shoulders over the net to stop a hitter or setter from attacking the ball into your court. But...

  • a volleyball player can't touch the net on the way up or on the way down with any parts of the body while the ball is in play. 

2. While blocking, your feet may come in contact with the centerline also known as the halfcourt line. But...

3. While your team is on defense you can block any attacked ball but...

  • Only front row players in defense are allowed to block a volleyball. 

4. While on defense in the front row, you can come off the court on the opposing team's side to retrieve a ball back into your court but...

This usually occurs when a blocker steps over the center line and for some reason, often in transition, lands and steps outside of the sideline (but into the free zone) of the opponent's court.

Because the free zone is considered the playing area of the court, this is legal and one of the few times a player is permitted to step across the center court line during a rally. 

In some middle school competition around the country, players can't touch the net or step across the half court line at all.

More Volleyball Block Rules

5. The only time your team can touch a ball four times in a rally and still keep playing without having committed a fault or a foul is when...

Then your team, which is now "on offense" still has three more opportunities (a dig, a set and an attack) to play the ball.

Let's say you are blocking a hitter and the hitter's ball goes between your two hands because they were too wide and so you didnt stop the ball at the net.

When and if the ball continues into the back row and one of your teammates digs the ball, then the dig is the first of the three contacts that your team is allowed to have to get the ball back over the net in an attempt to score against the opposing team. 

Your block touch or block contact on the ball is not counted in the total touches allowed per team in a rally and since you didnt actually "block" the ball the rally can continue, as if you didnt touch the ball.

As long as the ball continues, into your court, or even outside of your court BUT is played by a teammate, then three more contacts are allowed for your team.

On the third contact, the ball has to go over the net

Volleyball Block Rules
Can You Ever Touch The Ball Twice? 

Your block touch or block contact on the ball is not counted in the total touches allowed per team in a rally. (Michael E Johnston)Your block touch or block contact on the ball is not counted in the total touches allowed per team in a rally. (Michael E Johnston)

6. When blocking, can you touch the ball twice? 

There is an instance when blocking in volleyball when a player can touch the ball twice.  It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

Check out these two possible examples that happen in competition. 

When a front row player is blocking and their blocking hands don't penetrate to the other side of the net, the ball is likely to trickle down on their side between their body and the net.

If they can get their blocking hands down fast enough to connect them together to dig or pass the ball, without lifting the ball, then their team is allowed two more contacts, as long as they get the ball over the net on the second contact, they are okay.

Here's another example. 

If the blocker touches the ball as a block and then contacts it again as an underhand contact, her team has two more contacts to get the ball over the net to possibly score a point.

This action happens fast and if you don't know the rules, if you attempt to block a ball that ends up dribbling down in front of you, on your side, you may end up catching it because you don't realize that you can keep the ball in play by contacting it again as long as its a passing playing action.

That could cost you an important point if you are unfamiliar with the volleyball game rules.  

Volleyball Block Rules
Three Common Faults and Volleyball Fouls 

There are three major things you can't do when you're blocking in volleyball.

  • 7. Can you block the setter? 

No. One of the common faults committed by beginner players is trying to block the setter. Volleyball block rules prevent you from blocking an opposing team's setter who's attempting to set a ball.

You can block someone who's hitting a ball as long as you are separated by the net, but you can't block  a player who is setting the ball to another player on their team.

Can you block a serve?

  • 8. No you can't. Not according to FIVB and USA volleyball block rules. Players aren't allowed to block the serve either in doubles or the traditional six-man game.

The ball has to be allowed to enter into the opposing team's court before the rally can begin.

Can the libero block a ball?

  • 9. No. Only front row players can block a ball, either singly, in pairs or in threes. A one-man block is known as a solo block, a two-man block is known as a double block and a three-man block is known as a triple block.  

Can backrow players block a ball?

Volleyball Block Rules:
What You Can Do To Score Points While Blocking 

If you block a ball and it bounces out of bounds on your side or the opponent's side or without one of your diggers getting the ball up then its not a point for your team.

With rally scoring, where a point is rewarded for every successful winning play,  that would be a point for the opposing team because you were the last person to touch the ball before it hit the ground (In this case, out of bounds or in your own court.)

Volleyball Block Rules:
The Block, The Ball and the Antenna

12. If you block a ball and it then hits the antenna before hitting the ground, then the ball is considered out of bounds and both the ball and a point is awarded to the opposing team.

This is because the blocker is the last person to contact the ball before it went out of bounds so the blocking team loses the ball and the point.

How To Play Volleyball: Where Do You Go From Here?

We know where you need to go now! Here are three options: 

  1. Learn more about Blocking by clicking one of the links in the Related Links below. 
  2. Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page Learning How To Play (Sitemap)
  3. Or visit the pages in the How to Play Volleyball section in the drop down menu at the top of the page to get started. 

Learn more from these volleyball rules pages!

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