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Basic Rules and Elements of the Game

Every game has a set of rules which make that game unique and defines it. Volleyball is not an exception. So let's dig into the Volleyball Rules and see what makes this game interesting.

Volleyball is an Olympic Sport in which the two teams compete on the court 18 metres by 9 metres. Every team consists of 6 players in the court at the time - setter, opposite hitter, 2 outside hitters and 2 middle blockers. There is also a player called "libero", who comes in to receive and defend instead of middle blockers in the backcourt. Libero is a defensive specialist and this person can't attack the opponent by spiking. If this person sets a ball with finger passing inside the 3 meter area, the spiker should not attack as that is considered as illegal attack. The court is split in half by the net. Net height varies depending on players age and gender. For example, the net height for Male Adults is 243cm while the height for Female Adults is a bit shorter - 224cm. Each half of the court has a line 3 metres away from the net which splits the front and back court.

The main goal of the game is to put the ball across the net and into the opponent's floor. It is allowed 3 touches for each team before sending the ball across the net. One player can't have two touches in a row as that is considered as an illegal play. The game starts with a serve from a serving line which is 9 metres away from the net. If the ball doesn't go over the net when serving, that counts as an unsuccessful serve and the point goes to the opponent's team. But, if the ball goes over the net, the rally point starts. The team that succeeded to put the ball into the opponent's floor would win the point. If the ball touches the floor outside the court lines, that counts as an unsuccessful attack. After winning a point on the opponent's serve, the team gets a chance to serve and all players have to rotate for one spot in a clockwise direction. There are 6 rotating positions named from 1 to 6, but in anti-clockwise direction.

Volleyball is played up to 25 points straight (has to be 2 points difference) and best of 5 sets. The final, fifth set, is playing up to 15 points but has to be 2 points difference as well. We can split the game of Volleyball into 4 different elements - serve, receive, attack and defence.


Every Volleyball game and every point in the game starts with a serve. It is basically like a kick-off in soccer that happens more often. There are different types of serve such as underarm serve, float serve, jump float serve, jump serve. Every player should have one main serve for the match and another as a backup if the main serve doesn't work during the match. The most complex, but probably the most common type of serve in modern volleyball is jump serve.


Reception is the element that comes after the opponent has served. It is crucial for any team to win the point. With bad receiving the setter options for passing the ball are limited. In modern volleyball 3 players usually receive the serve - 2 outside hitters and 1 libero. The serve can be received overhead with open hands or with underarm passing. From our experience, float serve is easier to receive with overhead passing while jump serve should be received with underarm passing.


By the attack is considered any sort of ball sent across the net to the opponent's field. Most of the time that is hitting. The spike hit is probably the most attractive skill in volleyball. Every beginner has only one wish when starting volleyball - to learn to hit the ball across the net. But, that is not a simple move. It requires a set of skills such as proper timing, quick legs, to position the body behind the ball, fast arm swing, etc. The ball can be sent in a few of directions by spiking, such as line, crosscourt or narrow angle. Another way of attacking is a "roll ball''. This requires more skill than a regular spike. Player slows down the speed of their arm swing while attacking to send the ball shorter in the court and in front of the defenders. The arm still makes the same motion as a full-speed attack and the whole hand makes contact with the ball.

When a player uses one open hand to send the ball over the net it is called a “tip". The player uses the fingers to contact the ball and control the direction of it. Tips are usually sent short in the court, but can also be sent deep.

Setter can also attack when is in one of front court positions. When a setter sends the ball over the net on their team’s second contact instead of setting a player to hit it over, it is called a “dump” or “setter attack". A setter can do this by tipping or hitting the ball over with one hand or setting it over with two hands. They may do so while standing on the floor or jumping.


Defence is a really important part of volleyball game. It offers a team to have a counter-attack and win another point in a row. We will split it in two separate elements, dependant on each other - blocking and on-floor defence.

Blocking is, per our opinion, by far the most complex, technical element of the game. It requires a lot of skill to be done properly and be successful. Blocking element can be split in 3 different actions : starting position, blocking position and ending position. While in starting position for block, player's knees are bent a little (which makes the player ready to jump any time), hands are on the head's level, elbows are bent, distance from the net is around half a step. The next action is blocking which means that player is in the air with both arms up high and penetrating to opponent's court but not touching the net. The last part of blocking action is ending position in which player has landed on the floor not crossing the middle line.

On-floor defence is less complex but as important element as blocking. We can separate this element in two actions - base defence position and final defence position. The defensive spot on the floor that a player stands at and then possibly moves from depending on who is set on the opposing team is called base defence. In this position side players in back court should be on 3m line and a few steps away from side line while middle back court player is around 6m away from the net positioned in the middle of the court. Final defence position is the position on the court in which back court players are standing just a moment before opponent team is going to attack. These positions varies depending on where the opponent's attack is coming from. In both, base and final defence positions players has to stay low on the ground with bend knees ready to defend the attack.

In Conclusion

From all of the above we can say that Volleyball has complex rules. Also, elements of the game are not so simple to perform. But, with the proper volleyball training and education program, this game can get more simple top play and more fun to play.

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