Olympic Volleyball Rules

  • December 28, 2017

By Kiran Panicker
Pakmen Research Staff

Volleyball is the seventh most watched sport, played in the Olympics. Indoor volleyball has been played as an Olympic sport since 1964. Beach volleyball was introduced to the Olympics in 1996. The International Olympic Committee awards medals in volleyball to both genders, for indoor and outdoor volleyball. The game has two teams playing at a time, and each team tries to win a match by winning three of five sets for indoor volleyball, and two of three sets in beach volleyball. Olympic volleyball follows the same rules as the International Volleyball Federation.

The indoor volleyball court measures 18 by 9 meters (59 by 29 feet). There’s a net in the center of the court to divide both sides. The top of the net is 2.43 meters (approximately 8 feet) high for men’s games, and 2.24 meters (approximately 7 feet) high for women’s games.

Indoor volleyball has six players on each of the two teams, and they’re organized by having three players in the front row, and three players in the back row. The player in the back right serves the ball. A team regains a serve by winning a point after the opposing team has served. The team would then rotate positions clockwise. Beach volleyball is similar, except there are only two players on each team. Each time the ball returns to them for a new rally, they switch.

Olympic indoor volleyball is played under the rally scoring system. The rally scoring system allows both the serving and defending team, the opportunity to gain a point on the play. The team that wins the point, also wins the serve. In indoor volleyball, whichever team gets to 25 points first and are leading by at least two points, wins the set. The team that wins three sets first, wins the match. If there happens to be a 2-2 tie, the fifth match will only be played to 15 points (with a minimum lead of two points). In beach volleyball, the teams only play up to 21 points (must still have at least a two-point lead). If there happens to be a 2-2 tie, the fifth match will only by played to 15 points, just like for indoor volleyball.

Every rally starts off when the player in the back right serves the ball. The person who is serving must throw the ball overhead and hit it right over the net. The opposing team then has three chances to hit the ball and return it. The rally continues like this until the ball either touches the ground/floor, or cannot make it over the net to the other side in three hits or less.

A player is allowed to go out of bounds to hit the ball, but the ball has to cross the net and land in bounds, in order for it to be considered a legal return. If the ball doesn’t go over the net, it’s considered a point for the opposing team.

In indoor volleyball, after a set ends, they switch sides of the court. In beach volleyball, teams switch sides after every 7 points in set 1 and 2, and after every 5 points in set 3.

Read about PAKMEN’s High Performance Volleyball programs

Check PAKMEN’s Beach Volleyball programs