Copyright © 1995 USA Volleyball

These rules are endorsed by the California Beach Volleyball Association, the WPVA, Midwest Volleyball Professionals (MVP), and the following National Tours - Spike-It-Up, Bud Light U.S. Pro-Am, and Jose Cuervo.

For the complete Official Outdoor Volleyball Rules, consult the United States Volleyball Official Rules book (pages 79-118). The complete rule book is available for $4 from USA Volleyball Publications at 800/275-8782.

Proceeds from the sale of the rule book benefit our National, Olympic, and Junior Olympic Beach Volleyball Teams.


1.1 DIMENSIONS The playing area consists of a rectangular playing court measuring 59' x 29'6" and a surrounding free zone which is a minimum 9'10" wide. 1.2 PLAYING SURFACE The surface of the playing area must be as flat and uniform as possible, free of rocks, sprinkler heads and any other objects which may cause injury. Sand courts consist of fine grained sand and should be at least 12" deep. Grass courts consist of maintained grass surfaces free of holes, puddles and uneven ground. Any hazardous areas should be designated as out of play. 1.3 LINES ON THE COURT Boundary lines consist of two sidelines and two end lines which mark the playing court. They are made of 1/4-3/8" rope or 2-3 1/8" wide flat bands or tape. The center line divides the playing court into two square team courts, but is not marked. All lines are considered to extend indefinitely. (6,R) Attack lines are marked 9'10" from the center line. It is the players' responsibility to assure that all lines are in their proper location prior to the start of each play. Lines moved during play do not cause the rally to stop. If it cannot be determined whether a ball lands in bounds or out of bounds, it is a replay. 1.4 SERVICE ZONE The service zone is behind the end line and between the extension of the sidelines and extends to the end of the free zone.


2.2 HEIGHT OF THE NET The height of the net is 7'115/8" for men and 7'41/8" for women, measured at the center. A net failure occurs when there is a sudden loss of net height or tension. If the net failure is the result of a fault or does not affect the outcome of the rally, the rally counts. Otherwise, it is replayed.


3.1 BALL The ball must be spherical, made of a flexible leather or water-resistant leather-like cover and a rubber or rubber-like bladder. Its circumference must be 251/2-261/2" and its weight 9-10 oz. It may be of any color or multicolored.


4.1 COMPOSITION Doubles: 2 players on the court per team, no more than 2 on the roster Triples: 3 players on the court per team, no more than 3 on the roster Four-person: 4 players on the court per team, no more than 6 on the roster Six-person: 6 players on the court per team, no more than 12 on the roster All competitions must involve teams with the required numbers of players. Teams with fewer than the required number of players must forfeit. Mixed teams are composed of male and female players competing on a men's height net and Reverse Mixed teams compete on a women's height net. Mixed teams must contain equal numbers of males and females on each team, except in triples (where there must be at least one of each) or if otherwise specified. Females may compete in men's tournaments, but may not play the male role in any other type of competition. Males may not play the female role in any type of competition. 4.2 CAPTAIN The captain is the one player who represents their team in dealings with the officials. (2) Both players have the rights of the captain.


5.1 EQUIPMENT A player's clothing must be presentable and appropriate for the competition. Players on the same team are permitted to wear clothing of different colors and designs. Players may wear hats, visors or sunglasses at their own risk. Players may play barefoot, in socks or in booties. (G) Shoes may be worn but they cannot have any type of nonflexible cleats or spikes. 5.2 FORBIDDEN OBJECTS It is forbidden to wear any objects that may cause an injury to a player, such as jewelry, pins, bracelets, casts, etc. Players may wear glasses or flat-band rings at their own risk.


6.1 PLAYERS All participants must know the Official USA Volleyball Outdoor Rules and abide by them. Participants must behave respectfully and courteously in the spirit of fair play towards the refereeing corps, teammates, opponents and spectators. They must refrain from actions aimed at delaying the game or taking unfair advantage. Participants must accept referees' decisions with sportsmanlike conduct. In case of doubt, clarification may be requested. A captain may protest the referee's interpretation of a rule, but not the referee's judgement.


7.1 TO WIN A MATCH Matches may either consist of a single game, or best 2 out of 3 games. A team wins a match by winning one or two games, respectively. 7.2 TO WIN A GAME One game match: 15 points, win by 2, no cap 1st or 2nd game in 2 out of 3: 11 points, win by 2, no cap Deciding game in 2 out of 3: 7 points, win by 1, 7-6 wins 7.3 TO WIN A RALLY Whenever a team fails to serve or return the ball, or commits any other fault, the opposing team wins the rally. If the serving team wins a rally, it scores a point and continues to serve. If the receiving team wins a rally, it gains the right to serve, but does not score a point (side-out). 7.5 DEFAULT AND INCOMPLETE TEAM A team declared incomplete for the game or match loses the game or match. he opposing team is given the points, or points


8.1 COIN TOSS Before the warm-up in the first game and before each deciding game, the first referee conducts a coin toss in the presence of the team captains. The winner of the coin toss chooses either: to select to serve or receive service of the first ball or the side of the court on which to start the game. The loser takes the remaining alternative and, for the second game in a 2 out of 3 match, gets to select from the above choices.


9.2 ROTATION ORDER The rotation order specified by the starting lineup must be' maintained throughout the game. (There is an exception for doubles) 9.3 SUBSTITUTIONS (2,3) No substitutions or replacements of players are allowed. (4,6) Unlimited substitutions are allowed as long as one player does not occupy more than one position in the service order during a single game. Abnormal substitutions may be allowed in case of injury.


10.1 PLAYERS' POSITIONS AT THE TIME OF SERVICE (2,3,4) Players may be anywhere within their court. (6) Same overlap rules as indoor play. See complete rules for specifics.


11.1 BALL IN PLAY The ball is in play from the service contact until the ball is out of play. 11.2 BALL OUT OF PLAY The ball is out of play from the moment the ball lands or a fault is committed. The rally ends when a referee halts play or the ball is out of play. 11.3 BALL IN (OR IN BOUNDS) A ball is in when its first contact with the ground is on the playing court or a boundary line. 11.4 BALL OUT (OR OUT OF BOUNDS) The ball is out when: Its first contact with the ground is completely outside the playing court, and it does not cause boundary lines to move; It completely crosses the net outside the posts or under the net after the attacking team's third contact; or It touches an object out of play.


12.1 DEFINITION Any playing action contrary to the rules is a fault. If two or more faults are committed successively, only the first one is counted, except when the first fault is the ball contacting the ground and the second fault occurs during the continuation of the play. If two or more faults are committed by two opponents simultaneously, the rally is replayed.


13.1 TEAM CONTACTS Each team is entitled to a maximum of three contacts to return the ball to the opponents. A player may not contact the ball two times consecutively except during or after blocking or at the team's first contact. Blocking does not constitute a team contact, and any player may make the first contact of the ball after the block. 13.2 SIMULTANEOUS CONTACTS If two opponents simultaneously and instantaneously contact the ball over the net, the ball remains in play and the team receiving the ball is entitled to another three hits. If such a ball lands out of bounds, it is the fault of the team on the opposite side of the net from where the ball lands. (2,3) A joust occurs when players of opposing teams cause the ball to come to rest above the net through simultaneous contact. A joust is not a fault and play continues as if the contact was instantaneous. 13.3 ASSISTED HIT A player is not permitted to take support from a teammate or any object in order to reach the ball. However, a player who is about to commit a fault may be stopped or held back by a teammate. 13.4 CHARACTERISTICS OF CONTACT A player may touch the ball with any part of the body. A player may have successive contacts with the ball during a single attempt to make the team's first contact with the ball, provided that the fingers are not used to direct the ball. The ball must be contacted cleanly and not held (including lifted, pushed, caught, carried or thrown). The ball cannot roll or come to rest on any part of a player's body. (2,3) An exception is allowed during the defensive play of a hard-driven ball, which is an attack-hit or blocked ball traveling at a high rate of speed (as judged by the referee). In that case, the ball may be momentarily lifted or pushed, providing that the attempt is one continuous motion and the player does not change the direction of the motion while contacting the ball. A contact of the ball with two hands, using the fingers to direct the ball, is a set. A player may set the ball in any direction towards his/her team's court, provided that the ball is contacted simultaneously by both hands and does not visibly come to rest. Rotation of the ball after the set may indicate a held ball or multiple contacts during the set, but in itself is not a fault. A legal set directed towards a teammate that unintentionally crosses the net is not a fault, regardless of the player's body position. Intent is judged by the referee. (2,3) If the ball is intentionally set into the opponent's court, the player must contact the ball above his/her shoulders and must direct the ball perpendicular to the direction his/her shoulders are facing. (2,3,4) When contacting the ball with one hand, it must be cleanly hit with the heel or palm of the hand (a roll shot), with straight, locked fingertips (a cobra), knurled fingers (a camel toe) or the back of the hand from the wrist to the knuckles. One-handed placement or redirection of the ball with the fingers (a dink or open hand tip) is a fault.


14.1 BALL CROSSING THE NET A ball directed to the opponentÕs court must go over the net within the crossing space limited as follows: Below, by the top of the net, At the sides, by the posts and their imaginary extensions, and Above, by any structure or obstacle. BALL TOUCHING THE NET The ball may touch the net while crossing the net, except during the service. A serve that touches the net is a fault. BALL IN THE NET A ball driven into the net may be recovered within the limits of the three team contacts.


15.1 REACHING BEYOND THE NET While blocking, a player may touch the ball beyond the net, provided they do not interfere with the opponentÕs play, before or during the attack-hit. A player is permitted to pass his/her hand(s) beyond the net after an attack-hit, provided that the contact was made within his/her teamÕs playing space. Within the limits of the three team contacts, a player may contact a ball that has crossed the net below the net (or outside the posts) in an attempt to recover a ball that has not been contacted by the opponents. The recovered ball must cross the net below the net (or outside the posts). 15.2 PENETRATION INTO OPPONENT'S PLAYING AREA Players may partially or completely cross the center line below the net or outside the poles, either before, during or after a legal play of the ball, provided that this does not interfere with the opponent's play. Incidental contact with an opponent is ignored, unless such contact interferes with the opponent's opportunity to play the ball. While opposing players are not required to avoid the ball or the player, they cannot intentionally interfere with any legal attempt to play the ball on their court. If a player crosses the center line and interferes with an opponent during the continuation of a play, it is a fault. 15.3 CONTACT WITH THE NET OR POSTS It is a fault for a player or a player's clothing to touch any part of the net. Exceptions are: Incidental contact of the net by a player's hair If a player's hat, visor or glasses fall off during play and then contacts the net When a ball is driven into the net or the wind blows the net and causes the net to touch a player, no fault is committed. Once a player has contacted the ball, the player may touch the posts, ropes or any other object outside the total length of the net, provided that it does not interfere with play.


16.1 DEFINITION The service (or serve) is the act of putting the ball into play by the serving player in the service zone. 16.3 SERVICE ORDER If the serving team wins the rally or a replay is directed, the player who served the previous rally serves again. If the serving team loses the rally, the next server on the receiving team serves the ball. (2) If a player is discovered serving out of order, that player continues to serve with no loss of points. The opposing team remains in their service order, but the offending team will reverse their original order of service to ensure that no player will serve three consecutive terms of service. Excessive misuse of this privilege is unsportsmanlike conduct. 16.4 AUTHORIZATION OF SERVICE It is the responsibility of the server to assure that both teams are ready for service. A player on the receiving team may stop play when not ready for a service as long as no attempt to play the ball is made. In this case, the rally is canceled and replayed. Misuse of this privilege is unsportsmanlike conduct. 16.5 EXECUTION OF SERVICE The server may move freely behind the end line. At the moment of the service or take-off for service, the server must not touch the ground outside the service zone. The player's foot may not go under a boundary line. After the service contact, the player may land on the court or outside the service zone. The server contacts the ball with one hand or any part of the arm after clearly tossing or releasing the ball and before the ball touches the playing surface. 16.6 SERVICE ATTEMPT If the server releases the ball for service but does not attempt to complete the service motion, the referee will cancel the rally and direct a replay. A player may only receive one such replay during any one term of service. 16.7 SCREENING The server's teammates must not prevent the opponents, through screening, from seeing the server or the path of the ball. On an opponentÕs request, a player must move sideways, bend over or bend down.


17.1 DEFINITION All actions to direct the ball towards the opponent's playing area, except in the act of serving and blocking, are considered to be attack-hits. An attack-hit is completed the moment the ball completely crosses the vertical plane of the net or is touched by a blocker. A player may contact an attack-hit at any height, provided that contact with the ball is made within the player's own playing space. (6 back row or R male) If a player contacts the ball completely above the height of the net, and the player's foot is touching or has last touched the ground on or in front of the attack line, the attack-hit must have an upward trajectory. 17.2 ATTACK-HIT FAULTS It is a fault when a player completes an attack-hit on the opponentÕs service, if the ball is entirely above the height of the net;


18.1 DEFINITION Blocking is the action of player(s) close to the net to deflect the ball coming from the opponent by reaching above the height of the net. 18.2 HITS BY THE BLOCKER The first hit after the block may be executed by any player,including the player who touched the ball at the block. 18.3 BLOCK WITHIN THE OPPONENT'S SPACE In blocking, the player may place his/her hands and arms beyond the net provided that action does not interfere with the opponent's play. The player is not permitted to touch the ball beyond the net until the opponent has made an attack-hit. 18.4 BLOCKING CONTACT A blocking contact is not counted as a team hit. The blocking team will have three hits after a blocking contact. Consecutive, quick and continuous contacts may occur by one or more blockers, provided that these contacts are made during one blocking action. (2,3,4) There are no restrictions on which players may participate in a block. (6) Back row players may not participate in a block. (R) Male players may not participate in a block. When a ball is blocked back into an attacking player, the attacker is not considered to be a blocker. Therefore, that contact counts as the first of the team's three hits.


19.1 DEFINITION A time-out is a regular game interruption. It lasts for 30 seconds. Each team is entitled to a maximum of four time-outs per game. Successive time-outs may be requested without resumption of the game.


20.1 DEFINITION A delay is an improper action of a team that defers resumption of the game and includes: Prolonging time-outs, after having been instructed to resume the game; Repeating an improper request in the same game Delaying the game; or (4,6) Delaying a substitution. 20.2 SANCTIONS FOR DELAYS The first delay by a team in a game is sanctioned with a delay warning. The second and any subsequent delay of any type by the same team in the same game constitutes a fault and is sanctioned with a delay penalty, which is the loss of a rally.


21.1 INJURY If an injury occurs as the result of a fault or does not affect the outcome of the rally, the rally counts. Otherwise, the rally is immediately canceled and replayed. When no legal or abnormal substitute is available, an injured player is given a five minute injury time-out. This will not be granted more than twice for the same player in one game. 21.2 EXTERNAL INTERFERENCE If external interference does not affect the outcome of play, the rally counts. Otherwise, the rally is immediately canceled and replayed. A shouted warning (such as "Ball on!") is sufficient to affect the outcome of play, provided that a player had a chance to make a legal play of the ball. Misuse of this privilege is unsportsmanlike conduct.


22.1 COURT SWITCHES Court switches are team exchanges of playing courts which occur at specified times during a game: 15-point games, when the total number of points is a multiple of five. 11-point games, when the total number of points is a multiple of four. 7-point games, when the total number of points is a multiple of two.


23.1 CATEGORIES Incorrect conduct by a team member towards officials, opponents, teammates or spectators is classified in four categories according to the degree of the offense: Unsportsmanlike conduct: arguing, intimidating, taking unfair or inappropriate advantage of player privileges, etc. Rude conduct: acting contrary to good manners or moral principles, interfering with an opponent's ability to play, expressing contempt. Offensive conduct: defamatory or insulting words or gestures. Aggression: physical attack or intended aggression. 23.2 SANCTIONS Depending on the degree of the incorrect conduct, according to the judgment of the first referee, the sanctions to be applied are: Misconduct warning: For unsportsmanlike conduct, no penalty is given but the team member concerned is warned against repetition in the same game. Misconduct penalty: For rude conduct, the team is penalized with the loss of one rally. Expulsion: Repeated rude conduct is sanctioned by expulsion and the player must leave the playing area for the remainder of the game. Disqualification: for offensive conduct and aggression, the player is sanctioned by disqualification and must leave the playing area for the remainder of the match. Disqualified players may be subject to further sanctions by the Tournament Director. 23.3 SANCTION SCALE Repetition of misconduct by the same person in the same game is sanctioned progressively. Disqualification due to offensive conduct or aggression does not require a previous sanction. 23.4 MISCONDUCT BEFORE AND BETWEEN GAMES Any misconduct occurring before or between games is sanctioned and the sanction(s) apply in the following game.


24.2 PROCEDURES Hand signals are used to start a rally and voice commands used in all other situations. When used, whistles halt play, authorize service or accept or deny a request. The first referee authorizes service by giving the signal for service which begins the rally. The first referee halts play to end a rally provided that he/she is sure that a fault has been committed and has identified its nature.


25.2 AUTHORITY The first referee directs the match from the start until the end. The first referee has authority over the refereeing corps and the team members. During the match the first referee's decisions are final. The first referee is authorized to overrule the decisions of other members of the refereeing corps and may replace any member of the refereeing corps who is not performing assigned functions properly. The first referee has the power to decide any matter involving the game, including those not provided for in the rules. The first referee does not permit any discussion about game decisions. However, at the request of a captain, the first referee explain the application or interpretation of the rules on which the decision was based. A captain, having immediately indicated disagreement with the explanation, reserves the right to submit an official protest of the incident at the end of the match. The first referee must authorize this.
--- 1995 USA Volleyball Outdoor Mini-rulebook ---

Copyright © 1995 USA Volleyball

For the complete Official Outdoor Volleyball Rules, consult the United States Volleyball Official Rules book (pages 79-118). The complete rule book is available for $4 from USA Volleyball Publications at 800/275-8782.

Proceeds from the sale of the rule book benefit our National, Olympic, and Junior Olympic Beach Volleyball Teams.

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