This rule page includes the very basics of volleyball rules for beginning volleyball players and fans.
To get more complete explanations about the libero and other recent rules changes, be sure to check out our other rules pages.
In volleyball rules cases section, we present real volleyball game scenarios, which will help you to use rules to your advantage and become a better player.
Very Basic Volleyball Rules
Players in the Team:
Team has 6 players on the court.3 players are front row players and 3 of them are back row players.
Team is allowed to use a libero player (back row player, defensive specialist) who wears different color shirt.
Each team is allowed to have maximum of three touches before hitting the ball over the net. (EXCEPTION: block does not count as a touch)
Same player can not hit the ball twice in a row (EXCEPTION I: block doesn’t count a touch.)
Back Row Attack:
Back row players can not attack the ball front row. If they attack, they have to perform the jump behind the attack line (10 feet line, 3 meter line).
IMPORTANT! The ball has to be completely above the net for it to be an illegal attack
It is ALLOWED to play the ball off the net. It is a fault, if the ball contacts net outside antennas.
The ball has to travel between the antennas (or the imagined extensions of them) when flying to the other side of the net.
In or Out?
Referee calls the ball “IN”, if any part of it hits the lines. (Imagine the ball is painted. If the ball left a mark that touches the lines, the ball is judged IN)
Ball is ruled OUT, if
the ball lands outside the boundary lines (without touching the opponent)
The ball hits the antenna
any of the net or cables outside the antennas
a referee stand or poles or the ceiling (EXPECTION: in high school, club or college volleyball in United States it is allowed to play after ball hits the ceiling)
Contacting the Ball:
Players are NOT allowed to catch, hold or throw the ball.
Players are NOT allowed to hit or block the opponents serve.
Attacking ball which is coming over the net is ILLEGAL, if it has NOT broken the plane of the net.
In other words the player is ALLOWED to swing the ball when it breaks the plane of the net.
Recently changed basic volleyball rules
Let serve is allowed. In other words the ball can touch the net on the serve.
Players CAN double hit the ball when
digging it. Kicking is allowed.
A point is followed after each serve. (Earlier you had a chance to get a point only after your own serve).
One of the back row players can be substituted to a libero who is a back row specialist with unlimited subs. The libero can enter and exit the game between each serve without coach requesting a sub.
Server is allowed to serve the ball any place behind the backline. (Earlier there was a serving area in the corner of the court)
Contacting the Ball:
Players are ALLOWED to double hit the ball on the first contact, for example when they 1) serve receive, or 2) dig the ball
(Since this rule change passing overhead has become commonly used method to pass the ball. Earlier it was often called a false hit, double hit)
It is LEGAL to hit the ball with any part of the body, the foot and leg included. (Earlier it was a mistake to kick the ball.)
Very Basic Volleyball Rules Violations
The back row player performs the attack front row. (It is ILLEGAL for the back row player to step on the attack line when hitting.)
The back row player blocks the ball (the player having any part of the body above the net and touching the ball)
This referee just called a touch on the
block or defender.
The player double contacts the ball when setting the ball (you CAN NOT double hit the ball when setting it)
Player touches the net while the ball is in the play
(EXCEPTION: if the ball is hit the net and it pushes the net to the opposing player)
Stepping on the back line when serving the ball.
Reaching over the net to block the ball is ALLOWED, if the other side as used all the three touches. It is a FALSE, if opposing team has not used all the touches (and there is somebody trying to make a play there.)