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Basic rules of Volleyball

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Image credit: Calvin Teoh/SportSG

Formal volleyball matches must adhere to the rule book set by FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball). However, each organising committee will have their own set of rules and regulations specific to the competition.


The primary objective in volleyball is to make the ball hit the floor on the opponent's side of the court, while preventing your opponent from doing the same on your side of the court. Each team is allowed a maximum of three contacts/hits with the ball before it must be sent across the net. Teams are permitted to block the ball as it comes across the net and this contact does not count towards the three-contact limit .

In volleyball, six players rotate clockwise through the six positions on their side of the court. Servers must serve from behind the end line. They are only allowed one toss and release of the ball perserve. The ball must be clearly visible to the opponents before the serve and the ball is in play even if it touches the net on its way to the opponent's side of court.

Players are not allowed to keep contact with the ball for a prolonged amount of time, and cannot carry, palm or throw the ball. Players are also not allowed to block or spike a serve, nor are they allowed to hit the ball more than once consecutively while the ball is in play. The ball must be returned over the net within the net’s parameters (between the net poles).

Passing a hand above the net is only permitted while blocking an attack or spiking the ball. No part of the player's body or uniform is allowed to touch the net.

Players are to call balls in or out of bounds. If there is a dispute, play is resumed by re-serving the ball with no point awarded.

There are some violations that can happen in volleyball. The server is in violation when they step on or over the end line while serving; or if the ball is not served over the net. The referee will call a side out (passing the possession to the opposing team) when a rule is violated during play. Violation of the rules can cause a side out or a lost point for the offending team.

Some other basic violations include:
  • Serving the ball into the net. 
  • Reaching over or under the net when not following through with a spike or blocking the ball. 
  • Players serving or playing out of proper rotation. 
  • Blocking or spiking from a back row position.

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