Basic Volleyball Stuff


    The court dimensions are 59 feet from end line to end line & 29 feet, 6 inches wide.

    A ball that touches the line is considered IN the court. If a player touches a ball before it bounces, the ball remains in play, even if the player is off the court. All players must be on the court at the time of serve (except server). At all other times, players may leave the court to play a ball provided the ball crosses over the plane of the net as it travels to the opponents court.

    A server must be behind the end line to serve the ball. He/she may use any spot along the end line between the two sidelines (not limited to the right side of the court). If any part of the server's body touches the end line or the inside of the court BEFORE contact is made with the ball, a foot fault is called and the opponent is awarded the serve (and the point if using rally scoring).

    Ten-Foot (Three Meter) Line: This line extends across the entire court parallel to the net. Back row players may not leave the ground in front of this line in order to play a ball.

    Antennae: There are two vertical poles attached to the outside edges of the net. They are placed in line with the court boundaries and extend 32 inches above the net. Any ball that touches or travels outside the antenna is OUT.


    The basic offensive strategy in volleyball is Pass - Set - Spike. The first ball over the net is passed to a position close to the net, just right of center court. The setter will be in this location to receive the pass and set the ball to one of the teams attackers (hitters).

    When discussing positions, it is important to differentiate between rotational position and playing position.

    Rotational Position is the area on the court where the player must be when the ball is served (from either team). This is determined by the line-up at the beginning of the game, which dictates the order of servers for the entire game. A new line-up is submitted for each game in a match, so positions may be changed after each game. These rotational positions are numbered on the court.

    1. Right back (server)
    2. Right front
    3. Middle front
    4. Left front
    5. Left back
    6. Middle back.

    Your numbered position will change each time you win a rally that began with your opponent's serve. Players rotate one position clockwise each time they win a rally that began with the opponent's serve. A player will continue to serve until the team loses a rally.

    Playing position refers to the position the player will switch to the ball is put into play by the serve. If specialization of positions (playing positions) is to occur, there will be 2 players playing each position. One will be in the front row while the other is in the back row. It is necessary to place these players directly opposite each other in the rotational order (i.e.: positions 1&4, 2&5, 3&6). This way, as one player rotates into the back row, their counterpart rotates into the front row.

    Setter: "Quarterback" of the team - The setter is responsible for playing the ball on the second contact in every play. He/she will set to the hitters for the offensive attack. The setter always faces the left sideline, with one foot in front of the other (balance). Regardless of the rotational position of the setter, the setter must move into position near the net at center court as soon as the ball is contacted. In the middle of a rally (not a serve), the setter may have a defensive responsibility which he/she must cover first. Once he/she knows the ball is not coming to that defensive position, he/she immediately moves toward the net for the set.

    Qualities of a good setter: Quick feet - Good ball control - Consistent - Accurate - Leader - Team Strategist

    Outside Hitter (strong side): Hits from the Left Front Position on the court. Blocks weak side hits and moves to assist the middle hitter on blocking middle hits. Again, there are defensive responsibilities. Once the outside hitter is sure the ball is not approaching this position, he/she moves off the court into position to await a set from the setter.

    Qualities of a good Outside Hitter: Explosive Jumper - Quick Arm Swing

    Weak-side Hitter (off setter): Hits and blocks from the Right Front Position on the court. Performs same responsibilities as the strong side hitter. However, the weak-side hitter is usually responsible for setting the ball if the setter plays the first ball over the net.

    Qualities of a good Weak-side hitter: Strong blocker - Agile - Flexible - Ability to adjust 

    Middle Hitter: Hits and blocks from the Middle Front Position on the court. This position requires good footwork and endurance. The middle hitter is responsible for blocking opponent's middle hits, AND assisting in the blocking of outside and offside hits.

    Qualities of a good Middle Hitter: Good lateral movement - Shoulder flexibility - Endurance


    There are three types of balls a team will have to control to begin its offense.

    Dig - Passing a spiked or hard hit ball. It is called a dig, because an attacked ball is often received close to the floor. Since these balls travel very quickly, players must be set in their defensive positions. The positions are determined by the location of the spiker and are designed to cover the majority of the court, especially the areas the ball is likely to be hit.

    Free Ball - A ball sent over the net that is not expected to be a kill. It is usually sent over via a forearm pass instead of a spike. When a "free ball" is called, the setter will immediately vacate his/her defensive position and move to the setting position. The other players will shift to cover this empty area of the court.

    Serve Receive - Pass of a ball that is served by the opponent. This is the most basic of the three and most critical for success at beginning levels of play.

    Serve receive: teams may use a any number of players to receive serve. It is common to see a 2,3,4, and 5 player serve receive formation. At the very basic levels of volleyball, teams utilize a "W" formation serve receive. The "W" formation covers the entire court and utilizes all players, excluding the setter for serve receive. There are three players in the front row and two in the back row. The middle front receiver will be slightly further back than the other front row players - forming the "W" symbol on the court. The setter does NOT want to receive the serve. Therefore, the setter will begin near the net or will hide behind another player until the ball is contacted. On contact, the setter will move into position at the net.

    In order for a team to efficiently receive serves, there are a few concepts that must be clear. The back row players must have a clear line of sight to the server. The player who receives serve, must CALL for the ball before the ball crosses the plane of the net. All players should be moving on the contact of the serve. Non-serve receivers should face the player receiving the ball and be ready to help out on the second ball if it is not directed to the setter position. This is called "OPENING-UP". Opening up also eliminates uncertainty for the back row players. If a front row player "Opens-up", it communicates to the back row players that the front row player is not going to receive the ball and allows the back row player to move without hesitation.

    No player should receive a ball that is higher then his/her chest. A front row player should open-up and allow a back row player to receive the ball. A ball that is higher than the chest of a back row player is most likely to travel beyond the end line of the court. Therefore the back row players should move to allow it to drop outside the court. It is critical for teammates to communicate to players who have called the ball that a ball is about to go out - it is easier to see this when you are not attempting to play the ball.


    • Call the ball as soon as possible, but before it crosses the plane of the net
    • Open up to the player playing the ball - be ready to assist on the next hit
    • Help call the balls that will travel OUT of bounds
    • Front row Players
    • Open up when balls are higher than chest level - back row should play these balls
    • Call balls that will travel OUT of bounds (especially on sidelines)
    • Back row Players:
    • Open up on balls that are higher than chest level - they should be out of bounds
    • Calls balls that will travel OUT of bounds
    • Setters:
    • Should NEVER receive ball
    • Call SHORT serves for your team
    • Call HERE for the pass AND give a visual target with the hand closest to the net
    • Face the left sideline (right shoulder to the net)
      This allows you to see both courts and to face the direction you will set the ball.


    Offensive formations are referred to by two numbers. The first number indicates the number of specialized hitters you are utilizing and the second number indicates the number of players who are setters. Even though positions are given primary responsibilities (hit, set, defense), keep in mind that any player may set the ball and any front row player may spike the ball (even if the player is a setter).

    4-2 Offense: This is a basic strategy used by many beginning teams. The setters are active when they are in the front row, which leaves only two people as hitters for each rotation.

    6-2 Offense: This is a strategy that allows all players to attack. The setters are active when they are in the back row, allowing for three hitters in the front row at all times. This transition requires a lot of anticipation, endurance and communication by the setters.

    5-1 Offense: This strategy is used when a team has only one setter. This setter is always responsible for the second ball. When the setter is in the front row, there are only two hitters, but when he/she rotates to the back row, there are three hitters (5 players in total).