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Volleyball The Basics:

  • Volleyball is played by two teams of six players on a court divided by a net.
  • The object of the game is to send the ball over the net so that the opposing team cannot return the ball or prevent it from hitting the ground in their court.
  • Each team has three hits to attempt to return the ball.
  • The ball is put in play by a serve that is hit by the server over the net to the opponent.
  • When the receiving team wins a volley, it gains the right to serve, and the players rotate one position clockwise.
  • When the serving team wins a volley, it wins a point and the right to continue serving.
  • The ball must clear the net on a serve.
  • A game is played to 21 points or some other agreed upon number. The team that wins the best two out of three games wins the match.
  • Common positions include hitter, setter, libero (defender)

Equipment: Volleyball, sneakers (indoors), knee pads (optional)

How Long Is A Match? There is no set time limit for a volleyball match, as each game is played to fifteen points. Team captains flip a coin to determine which side will serve first. There are two-minute breaks between each game; teams switch court sides after each break. Teams are permitted two thirty-second time-outs per game and may use them when the ball is not in play.


Serve – begins play. A legal serve takes place when the ball completely clears the net and drops within the boundary of the opposite court. A missed serve counts as a fault, and possession of the ball is turned over to the other team as a side out. When serving, players may use an underarm, sidearm, or overhand motion to strike the ball while either standing in a stationary position or jumping in the air. The server may not step over the end line onto the court until  she has struck the ball.

Overhand Pass (or Volley) – The most basic technique used in striking the ball. On the overhand pass, players hit the ball with open palms using their fingers to direct the ball up in the air toward teammates. The volley can be used for either passing the ball or for sending it over the net.

Forearm Pass (or Dig) – A type of shot players use when receiving a serve or playing a hard, low hit ball. The player positions his or her body low toward the ground, extending his or her forearms underneath the ball to pass it up toward the “setter.” The dig is often the first action in “classic three hit” volleyball.

Set – An overhead pass in which the setter directs the ball upward with a high arc toward front-line players at the net. The set follows the dig and precedes the spike in a three hit volley.

Spike (or Smash) – The most aggressive shot in the game. The spike is a powerful overhand smash into the opposite court performed by front-line players. The spiker steps toward the net, jumps high in the air, and swings his or her arm powerfully toward the ball to slam it down. The spiker must be careful not to touch the net.

Block – A defensive play in which players jump high in the air to block the ball back into the opposing court. Blocking is only done by front-line players since the ball is hit while it is above the net. The block does not count as a hit. Therefore, if the ball remains on the blocking team’s court, the team still has three touches to get the ball back over the net.

Terms & Lingo
Ace – When the ball is served to the other team and no one touches it.
Sideout – When the team that served the ball makes a mistake, causing the ball to go to the other team.
Roof – When a player jumps above the height of the net and blocks the ball.
Dig – When a player makes a save from a very difficult spike.
Kill – When a team spikes the ball and it ends in either a point or a sideout.

Fault – A violation of any rule of play. If the serving team commits a fault or fails to get the ball in the opposite court, a side out is awarded to the non-offending team. If the non-serving team faults, the serving side wins a point. Some examples of faults are: if a team touches the ball more than three times in succession before sending it over the net; if a player holds, carries, lifts, or double hits the ball; if a player touches the net with any part of his or her body or if any part of the body crosses the center line; or if the ball touches out-of-bounds, or a net antenna.

March 23, 2008

Volleyball 101

 The Basics: Volleyball is played by two teams of six players on a court divided by a net. The object of the game is to send […]