Volleyball Rules and Regulations

How to Play the Game

ATHENS - AUGUST 28: Liana Mesa Luaces #11 of Cuba goes up for a spike against Brazil in the women's indoor Volleyball bronze medal match on August 28, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Peace and Friendship Stadium part of the Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex in Athens, Greece.
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Volleyball is a team sport where two teams, typically with six players on each team, are separated by a net. The players on the two teams hit an inflated ball back and forth over the net, trying to avoid having the ball hit the ground on their side of the net. To put it in simple terms, volleyball is a team sport in which the goal is to keep the ball alive while it is on your side of the net but to kill the rally by putting the ball down on your opponent’s side of the net.

Volleyball is an exciting, fast-paced sport. It has been an official part of the Summer Olympic Games since 1964. 


The complete set of rules for volleyball is extremely extensive. Additionally, volleyball rules can be difficult to keep up with as they often change. However, many of the central, most critical rules of the sport remain the same.

You can score points in the game of volleyball in one of two ways:

  1. Putting the ball on the floor in-bounds on your opponent's side of the net.
  2. An error (forced or unforced) by your opponent which renders them unable to return the ball over the net and in-bounds on your side in their allotted three contacts.

The sport of volleyball is one of the most malleable sports because it is played in many variations and on many different surfaces. 


Volleyball can be played in teams, with anywhere between two and six players. Indoor volleyball is usually played with six players on each team. Beach volleyball is often played with two players. Four-person volleyball is often seen in grass tournaments and also occasionally on the beach.


There are many variations to the game of volleyball. Where volleyball is played, along with how it is scored can vary widely. Volleyball can be played on hardwood, grass, sand or asphalt, using rally or side-out scoring. Volleyball matches can be played as one game or as the best of three or best of five sets. As far as scoring, volleyball can be played to 15, 25, 30 or any number of points technically. 

Play begins with one team serving the ball to the other. Each time the ball crosses over the net, a team gets three contacts before they must send the ball back to the opponent's side. Ideally, the three contacts will be a pass, set and hit, but it can be three passes or any other combination of contacts as long as they are legal contacts.

The rally (or volley) continues until the ball hits the ground or one of the rules is broken. The team that is not responsible for the end of the rally then gets a point. 

A Few Volleyball No-No's

You cannot:

  1. Touch the net while making a play on the ball
  2. Step on the back line while serving (foot fault)
  3. Contact the ball more than three times on a side (A block doesn't count as a contact)
  4. Lift or push the ball
  5. Play the ball over the net outside of the antennas
  6. Contact the ball twice in a row (unless the first contact was a block)

Winning the Match

The first team to score the agreed upon number of points wins the game. You must win by at least two points. The teams switch sides, the next game starts with a score of 0-0 and play starts again. In a best-of-five match, the team who wins three sets wins the match.