-1. A maximum of three contacts of the ball are allowed per side before it must be returned across the net. Any contact by the block does not count as one of the three allowable contacts.
-2. A ball that hits any line is considered in.
-3. A ball that hits the antenna is considered out.
-4. Players can only make momentary contact with the ball using any of the legal types of contacts.
-5. Every player, with the exception of the server, must be completely within the court lines as the ball is being served.
-6. A served ball that hits the net while passing over it is illegal. A ball that hits the net at any other time is in play.
-7. It is a violation:
a. to step on or over the endline when serving
b. to step completely over the center line at any time
c. to touch the net
d. to block a serve
e. to lift or carry the ball
f. to double contact the ball
g. to kick the ball.
h. for a back row player to jump and attack (or block) a ball on, or in front of, the 3 meter line
-8. A player may not contact the ball more than once before it must be touched by another player, however a player may contact the ball twice per possession if a teammate plays it in between contacts.
-9. Overlapping: at contact of the serve, the players on both sides of the net must stand on the court in the order they appear on the score sheet, with three players in the front row and three players in the back row. No player can overlap with any player in an adjacent position (in front, behind, or to the side of them).


Ace - a legal serve that cannot be returned.
Approach - the foot pattern of a hitter as they prepare to attack a set. Usually a 3 or 4 step pattern.
Attack - the act of sending the ball to the opponent, usually done in a forceful manner, however off- speed shots are also considered an attack.
Attack line - also called the 3 meter line; a line on the court that marks where a back row player cannot jump on, or in front of, and attack, or block, a ball.
Back row attack - a back row player jumping behind the 3 meter line and attacking the ball forcefully.
Block - an attempt to keep the opponent's attack from crossing the net. The first line of defense.
Cross-court - as an outside hitter, hitting the ball diagonally into the opponent's court.
Defense - any legal action or skills that keep the ball contacted by the opponent from hitting the ground on your side of the net.
Defensive system - a specific plan designed to cover the court as best as possible given the opponent's tendencies and your team's strengths and weaknesses. Ex: perimeter, rotation.
Dig - playing a hard hit ball on the forearms and usually in a low body position.
Down ball - a ball that is sent forcefully across the net from a standing position.
Down the line - when an outside hitter attacks a set straight ahead so that it would travel along the sideline of the opponent.
Dump - a quick attack by the setter when they are a front row player, and usually on the second contact. It is designed to take the defense by surprise.
Floor defense - any act of defending the ball behind the block, such as digging, diving, pancake, etc.
Free ball - when a team is not able to attack their third contact on the ball, but must just send it over the net in an easy manner.
Giving the line - when the block sets up in a way that allows an outside hitter to hit down the line.
Hitter coverage - a formation of players around a teammate who is hitting a set. Their purpose is to keep a blocked ball from hitting the floor on their side.
Hitting error - hitting the ball out of bounds or into the net.
Jousting - when front row players on both sides of the net try to play a ball that is just above the plane of the net. Usually done by pushing hard against the ball with open hands.
Jump serve - a legal serve that is performed by tossing the ball well into the air and jumping to send the ball forcefully across the net.
Off-blocker - the outside blocker at the net who does not have the ball set in front of them by the opponent.
Off-speed - an attack that is purposely hit at less than full force to deceive the opponent and catch them on their heels.
Offensive systems - a specific plan designed to best use your team's personnel for attacking the opponent. Labeled in terms of numbers of hitters and setters used, and their positions.
Examples: 6-2, 4-2, 5-1.
Outside hitter - a front row player who generally hits and blocks on the left or right side of the net.
Middle blocker - a front row player who hits in the middle of the court, and who blocks from the left outside blocker to the right outside blocker.
Pancake - a defensive skill where the hand slides under the ball just before it contacts the floor. There is no motion by the hand and the floor actually provides the impetus for the ball to rebound off the hand.
Pass - a skill used in serve receive, and playing free balls and down balls. Using the forearms as a unit to direct the ball to the setter. Usually the first contact on a side.
Perimeter - a specific defensive system where the four players not involved in the block protect the deep area of the court.
Point - what is won by the serving team when they win a rally.
Primary passer - a player, or players, designated to pass the ball as much as possible because of their superior passing ability.
Quick set - the sets that can be attacked the fastest by the hitters; such a 1's, 3's and slides. A first tempo attack.
Rally - a series of contacts by both teams.
Rally score - a point is scored on every rally regardless of who served. Played only in the fifth game of a match.
Roof - a monster block for a point or a side-out.
Rotation - a specific defensive system where the off-blocker and the back row defenders move either to their right or left to defend an attack while putting a player in tip coverage defense.
Serve - the act of putting the ball into play. Done from behind the endline, the ball must be struck so that it completely clears the net and falls into the opponent's court.
Serve receive - positioning of players on the receiving end of the serve. Usually done with two to four designated passers.
Set - a skill that specifically sets up an attack, using both hands as a single unit on the ball. Generally the second contact of three on a side.
Side out - the action of successfully defending the serving team's play.
Six pack - an attack that hits an opponent in the face. (Ouch!)
Slide - a specific defensive formation where the off-blocker comes under the block for tip coverage. Also the name of a set hit behind the setter.
Tip coverage - placing a player just behind the block to pick up tips and off-speed shots to the center of the court.
Transition - the movement of players from defense to offense.
Types of sets - 1st tempo: 1's, 3's, slides
2nd tempo: 2's, 7's, flares, X's, pumps
3rd tempo: 4's, 5's, 9's, high outside sets
Violation - any play that breaks a rules of the game, such as an illegal contact or illegal positioning at the serve.


SERVING: The serve initiates each rally and is a team's first chance to attack and score. Players should try to master at least one kind of serve so they have a particular strength to go to in critical moments.
¥ Good spots to serve to on the court include seams between passers, to open areas that the serve receive leaves free, and to weak passers.
¥ Kinds of serves include floaters that have little to no spin and move at a medium pace, and topspin serves that move fast and drop quickly over the net.
¥ Important parts of each serve include the toss, or the placement of the ball in the air, the contact point of the palm on the ball, and the follow through, or what your hand and arm do after you've sent the ball on its way.
Key points:
1. Serve assertively so you are not just giving the opponent a free ball.
2. If you make an error, make it long and not short into the net. Give the opponent a chance to make a mistake.
3. Get to your defensive position on the court as quickly as possible after you've served the ball.
PASSING: This is the most important skill in the game. You cannot play volleyball if you cannot pass. 98% of the time a player will pass to the setter's position at the net (area 6). When the ball is passed close to the net, the setter has a chance to dump the ball if she is a front row player, however these are tougher balls to set.
¥ Passing is performed in a medium posture for serve receive, free balls and down balls.
¥ The passer contacts the ball on her forearms, with her feet a little more than shoulder width apart, and the right foot slightly forward. The body weight is also shifting forward toward the setter.
¥ The arms should be away from the body, chest pointed to the ground, and the chin is up. The arms can swing gently into the oncoming ball.
¥ Back row players and outside hitters should do most of the passing in a game, whether during serve receive or in transition. The sets for middle hitters happen so fast that it is difficult for them to pass and hit in the same rally.
Key points:
1. The most important part of the pass is the position of the platform (surface of the forearms) at contact of the ball.
2. Always assume the ball is coming to you. This way you will be ready for it when it does!
3. It is better to pass the ball slightly off the net than too close to the net.
4. Keep all movement as simple as possible. Extra motion slows you down as the game speeds up.
5. The better a team passes, the better their offense can be. IT ALL STARTS WITH THE PASS.
6. Use two arms on the ball whenever possible. One arm passing is rarely accurate.
SETTING: Setters are fearless, quick, good communicators, smart, coachable, thick-skinned leaders who are not afraid to make mistakes. The setter can determine the outcome of a match more than any other player.
¥ The ability of your setter (and the number of them) usually determines the kind of offense your team will run.
¥ Types of offenses include: 6-2, or 6 hitters and 2 setters. The primary setter is a back row player who sets 3 rotations. A 4-2, or 4 hitters and 2 setters. The primary setter is a front row player who sets 3 rotations. A 5-1, or 5 hitters and 1 setter who sets in every rotation.
¥ The setter should think in this order: good set, smart set, fancy set. It depends on the pass!
¥ Both hands should work as a single unit on the ball, taking it just above the hairline. Use the wrists as springboards.
¥ Use your LEGS for power and distance when you set. Feet shoulder width apart, right foot slightly forward.
¥ Follow through exactly where you want the ball to go, and hold your follow through for a moment once the ball is gone.
Key points:
1. The setter should always "square up" to her target, that is, shoulders facing the target.
2. Use the whole of your fingers and not just the finger-tips!
3. Set the sides of the ball.
3. Be stopped when contacting the ball whenever possible.
5. The setters OWNS the 2nd contact. She must either play the ball or call for HELP!
6. Setters need to keep their hitters off the net. A set that is tight to the net is hard to hit and easy to block!
ATTACKING: Middle attacks happen fast and are designed to catch the opponent off-guard. Outside attacks are easier for blockers to set up against, but the hitter has more time to read the set and the block, and adjust. Outside attacks are more predictable, and more powerful. Good attacking teams mix-up their offense with different kinds of sets and hitter approach patterns, as well as speeds of hits, to keep the opponent guessing.
¥ An attack has the following components: approach, take-off, arm swing, follow through, and landing.
- most hitters use a 3-4 step approach with the last two steps being a plant that has the opposite foot of the hitting arm closest to the net
- when taking-off the best hitters use both arms in powerful upward swings to help the legs get them off the ground; take off behind the ball and travel somewhat forward, depending on the size of your jump
- an effective arm swing is done in full extension of the chest, flexing the back muscles, and with the arms acting in opposition. The non-hitting arm starts the rotation of the shoulders as the hitter brings the hitting arm through the ball quickly and with power.
- the hitting arm follows through the ball and either across the body or to the side
- landing should be done on both feet whenever possible to spread the impact of your weight and not overload one leg; land as softly or gently as you can, absorbing the impact with the flexion of your ankles, knees and hips. A hitter should land so that they can avoid touching the net.
¥ Contact the ball with your arm extended, in front of your hitting shoulder, with a firm, open palm and your fingers spread.
¥ Middle hitters must be dynamic in their movements with quick transition skills as they hit the fastest and shortest sets. Middles can only be effective if your team passes well.
Key points:
1. The faster the arm swing, the harder the hit.
2. Hitters must play EVERY set in hitting lines and in games. There is no such thing as a bad set.
3. Tooling, or using the block, is an effective way to score points at the outside hitter position, whether you hit off the blocker's hands toward the antenna, or high into the hands of blockers and out of bounds.
BLOCKING: The art of keeping the ball from coming to your side of the court. The first line of defense. Good blocks force opponents to err, they deflect balls to defensive teammates, they make hitters hit into your defensive set-up, and sometimes they block balls! Bad blocks can be 'used' by the opponent, cause your team to have defensive nightmares, and they rarely block any balls effectively.
¥ Good blockers get into position, stop their movement, WATCH THE HITTERS, time their jump with the hitter, use their legs for power; penetrate the plane of the net with big, wide, strong hands that are well formed to stop the ball; and keep their eyes open.
¥ Bad blockers are late to their spot, drift as they jump, watch the ball, jump early or late, leave room between their arms and the net for the ball to sneak through, have wimpy hands and close their eyes when they block.
¥ Outside blockers generally line up on the ball, while middle blockers come to their outsides to form a double block.
Key points:
1. If you yell when you block it is easier to keep your eyes open. Really!
2. Blockers should talk to each other, for instance: "She's crossing!", "X! X!", "Behind!" (means a back set), or my personal favorite, "You're alone!".
3. There is no such thing as an approach to a block. A block is done from a stand, or for middles by moving laterally, NEVER forward.


SERVE RECEIVE: This is the pattern that you and your team stands in when preparing to receive a serve. Most teams us a 3 or 4 person receive, although the Women's and Men's National teams usually receive with just two primary passers! Below are a couple of options:
Four (4) player receive: Three (3) player receive:

FLOOR DEFENSE: This is the pattern that your team stands in when preparing to defend an opponent's attack. There are numerous possibilities, a few of which I will detail, but first a philosophical word from the coach. Defense is an attitude. Great defensive players believe there is no such thing as an unplayable ball. They never decide whether they can get to a ball or not, they JUST GO. As Bill Neville says, "As long as you and the ball are alive, GO."

¥Perimeter: a defense where the four players behind a double block defend the deep areas of the court.

¥ Rotation: a tip-coverage defense where one of the four defenders not involved in the block covers the area just behind the block for off speed balls, tips, and deflected balls.

Key points:
1. Great defense is contagious.
2. Pursuit is everyone's responsibility. Many teammates should pursue a ball going out of bounds, not just one.
3. Play your position and trust your teammates to play theirs.
HITTER COVERAGE: This is a pattern where the teammates of the active hitter gather around her and cover the floor in case of a blocked ball.


1. There are four (4) ways for the serving team to score a point; they are:
a. ace (Rally score games excepted.)
b. kill
c. block
d. opponent error
2. Transition is a team's movement from defense to offense.
3. The following court is split and numbered according to serving order, and by how coaches communicate to servers what area of the court they would like the serve to go.

4. The next page shows the divisions of the net in relation to the setter and the standard sets she sends to hitters. It also shows the basic flight of numerous sets.