Volleyball Officials, Referees and Linesmen The Who What Why and How?

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. 

Volleyball officials: First referee calls the game from an elevated referee stand while 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 rules. 

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 don't.

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 right position,

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.

Volleyball officials: 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.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.

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 sheet. 

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...

  • records the final result
  • 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 volleyball court.

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: 

  1. Learn more about the Referees and Officials.
  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!

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