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Beginners Overview: Volleyball As A Sport

In This Lesson We’ll Cover:

  1. Basic Volleyball Sport Knowledge
  2. Court And Net Dimensions
  3. A Brief Look At Rules And Regulations
  4. Volleyball Scoring


  • Error
  • Offense
  • Defense
  • Pass
  • Bump Set
  • Set
  • Overhand pass
  • Attack
  • Back Row Attack
  • Win By 2 Scoring

A Simplistic Explanation

Imagine a complex form of the childhood game where you and a friend would try to keep a balloon off the ground by batting it back into the air. Now we’re going to make it a competition between two teams of six people who move within adjacent boxes drawn on the ground.

Give them an obstacle, a net, between these boxes to hit over. Each team will be able to contact the balloon three times before it must go over the net. Finally, we’re going to make the game far more challenging by replacing the balloon with a ball that drops more quickly. You have yourself a volleyball game!

Volleyball As A Sport

Volleyball is an incredible and fast moving athletic event where teams of six players battle it out to see who can get to 25 points first . Unlike contact sports, volleyball teams are separated by a net that is over 7 feet high.

Net heights vary whether you are playing men’s, women’s, or coed’s volleyball. A men’s net is 7’11 5/8″ women’s is 7’4 1/8″. Coed volleyball traditionally uses a men’s net height so 7’11 5/8″. Yes these are oddly specific heights, but hey those are the rules.

The sport is played with a special ball which is simply called, you guessed it! A volleyball. Teams hit the volleyball back and forth over the net. Easy enough to remember, right ?

The objective of the game is to score points by putting the ball into the other team’s court, either forcing an “error” or managing to get the volleyball to touch the court before the opposing team scores on you.

Error: An error in volleyball is when a ball does not make it back into the playable area of an opponents court. For example if a player, Ashleigh, attempted to pass the ball to the opposing team, but instead hit the ball into the net, this is considered an error. Other examples include missed serves, illegal contacts, getting blocked or “shanking” an offensive maneuver by the other team.

In volleyball, like tennis, the ball is considered “in” if it hits anywhere within the 30 x 30 foot area including even the slightest contact with the outline of the court.

When a volleyball hits the ground, or a team violates a rule, the point is over and will be awarded to one of the two teams. The goal of volleyball is to prevent the other team from getting the volleyball to hit the ground in your area while also attempting to put the volleyball down in theirs. Defending your court is called defense where as attempting to get the ball to touch the opposing team’s court is what we call offense.

Offense: attempting to score on the opposing team by maneuvering the ball to hit the ground on their side of the court. There are many forms of offense, however the most common is the “hit” or “attack”.

Defense: defending your side of the court from an opponents offensive maneuvers. Defense is a job that every player on the court takes part in whether that role is blocking or attempting to dig that hitter or pick up tips.

Volleyball Regulations

  • 2 teams divided by a net.
  • Net heights: women’s 7’4 1/8″, men’s &’11 1/8″.
  • 6 players each team, 3 front row and 3 back row.
  • A volleyball court is 59′ by 29.5′ (18 x 9 meters) divided in the middle by the net. People will typically just round these numbers to 30′ x 60′ when describing a court.
  • Each side is 29.5′ x 29.5′ (9 x 9 meters).
  • A ball is “in” if it hits anywhere in the court including making contact with any part of the line.
  • The ball is considered “out” if it: hits the court outside of the 18 x 9 meter playing space, makes contact with the antennas in any way, hits a wall or ceiling outside of the playable area, or the ref stand and net poles.
  • Games are played to 25 points.
  • Best 3 of 5 games (or best 2 of 3 depending on the division).
  • Maximum 3 contacts per team before sending the ball over the net.
  • Players are not permitted to touch the ball twice in a row.
  • A block is not considered a touch.
  • If two players make contact with the ball simultaneously it is considered 1 legal contact and either may take the next contact so long as the team is not out of contacts (maximum of 3).
  • A player may make contact with any part of their body.
  • A player may not catch or make extended contact with the volleyball.
  • A player is not permitted to throw the volleyball.
  • The ball may be played out of the net both in rally and in serve.
  • The player assigned to the “1” court position on the serving team will serve the ball.
  • The server will have 8 seconds to serve the ball.
  • Players must start in their assigned position (or within boundaries of the player in front and to the sides of them) until after the ball has been served.
  • A serve may not be blocked or attacked from within the ten foot line.

A volleyball team will have a maximum of three touches on the volleyball. There is no minimum requirement on how many touches you must make before sending the ball back over the net.

You can make legal contact with a volleyball in a number of ways, the most traditional and competitive are the platform pass (aka “pass” or “bump”), the overhand set (aka “set”), and the attack (aka “hit” or “spike”), though there are others which we will eventually discuss.

The 3 Traditional Volleyball Contacts

Platform Passing

Platform Pass: Passing, which is also known as a “pass” or “bump” is the use of the forearms to redirect a volleyball. In a competitive setting, passing is generally the first of three contacts and is traditionally aimed towards the setter who stands on the front right side of the court.

Bump Set: You can also “set” your teammate (set them up for an attack) using the platform pass form of contact. This is known as the bump set.

Setting (Specifically Jump Setting)

Set: A set is a form of legal contact in volleyball in where contact is made over a player’s head with both hands simultaneously. The set utilizes the finger tips which gives a lot control over where the ball goes. A set, in it’s traditional form is meant to go to a hitter. It is the set up for an offensive play.

Overhand Pass: Similar to the set is the overhand pass. An overhand pass has the same form as the set, where the ball is directed using the fingertips over the player’s head. The distinguishable difference is that an overhand pass is typically the first contact which is directed to the setter and not to a hitter.


Attack: An attack (aka “hit” or “spike”) is the form of contact that is traditionally used in offensive maneuvers. In a traditional form an attack is aimed at the opposing team’s court in an attempt to score. An attack involves a player leaping off of the ground to make contact overhead with the palm of the hitter’s dominant hand. An attack generally takes place in front of the ten foot line.

Back Row Attack: A back row attack is simply an attack that takes place in the back row which is just behind the ten foot line.

Volleyball Court Dimensions

The Court

A volleyball court is 18 meters by 9 meters in length and width. In feet this comes out to be 59 feet by 29.5 feet. Most people when discussing a volleyball court will just say that it is 60 feet by 30 feet, or 30 by 30 feet per side because it’s “close enough”. This is fine, just know those aren’t the official court standards.


Antennas sit on either side of a volleyball court and are directly over the side lines of the court. This means they are also placed 9 meters apart or 29.5 feet. Antennas stick up 32″ above the top of the net.

Net Heights

The net sits over 7’4 1/8″ for women and 7’11 1/8″ for men’s regulation games. Coed volleyball games are typically played at the men’s net height.

Base Line

The base line which is also known as the service line is one of the out boundaries on the court.

Ten Foot Line

The line that runs through the upper 1/3 of each side of a volleyball court is called the ten food line, it is also referred to as the attack line.

Center Line

The center line is the line that runs directly underneath the net and separates the teams. The center line may not be crossed by players.

Side Lines

Side lines are another boundary of the court. The lines run parallel to each other and are 29.5 feet apart.

Scoring In Volleyball

You can score on the other team in one of two ways, you can either put the volleyball down on the opposing team’s 30′ x 30′ court, or you will gain a point if the opposing team makes an error by hitting the ball out or failing to put the ball back on their opponents side of the court after their maximum allowed three contacts.

That is the simplest explanation I can offer but within those guidelines there is an insane amount of strategy and ways to give your team an advantage over your opponent.

Indoor Volleyball Scoring

Volleyball matches are made up of smaller games which are also known as sets. Each game is played to 25 points with a win by two scoring pattern. There will be between 2 and 5 games in a volleyball match but this depends on the division that you are playing.

Win- By- 2: a game will continue to be played past 25 points if a team is not more than two points ahead of a competitor. Because of this rule, volleyball games can sometimes be played well into the 30’s and even the 40 point range. This happens with evenly matched teams and can be very intense for anyone involved player, fan or coach.

Varsity games, both high school and collegiate are played best 3 games out of 5. Club volleyball games and recreational leagues are played the best 2 out of 3 games.

The tie breaker game (the fifth game in a varsity game or the third game in a club match) is always played to 15 points and the teams will switch sides when one team gets 8 points.

They switch sides to keep the game fair. Sometimes one side of the court has a distinct advantage for example better lighting. This doesn’t sound like a big deal but it can make a difference if two teams are evenly matched.

Beach Volleyball

Games of volleyball played outside either on grass or a sand court are played best 2 out of 3 games. The games are played to 21 points. A similarity between scoring in indoor volleyball and beach volleyball is that the games are always win by 2 points. The tie breaker game is played to 15 points

Beach volleyball is traditionally played with teams of two players.

Key Takeaways:

  • 2 teams of 6 players each
  • 3 contacts per team allowed before sending the ball back to the other side of the net
  • There are two sides of a volleyball court which are divided by a net
  • 30 x 30 foot court space per side. Total court is 60 x 30 feet with a net running across the center of the court.
  • Net heights: 7’4 1/8″ for women 7’11 1/8″ for men
  • The objective of the game is to defend your side of the court while also attempting to place the ball on the ground within your opponents court
  • Games are played to 25 points
  • A point will end when the volleyball hits the ground or is ruled out of bounds

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this helpful overview of volleyball as a sport. As a beginner, I found this article to be really informative and easy to understand. It’s great to learn about the basic rules and strategies of the game, as well as the different positions players can take on the court. I’m looking forward to using this knowledge to improve my skills and become a better player. Thanks again for the helpful resource.

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