Volleyball rules

We explain the rules of volleyball regarding the field of play, the position of the players and the types of shots.

What are the rules of volleyball?

Volleyball, volleyball or volleyball is a ball sport played by opposing teams, in which an inflatable ball is hit with the hands to make it pass over a net suspended in the centre of the playing field. The team that allows the ball the most times to touch the ground on its side of the net will be defeated.

It is a relatively recent sport, which began to be practised in the United States at the end of the 19th century when in 1895, the physical education teacher of the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association), William G. Morgan, was looking for a playable sport indoors that wasn’t as aggressive as the newly invented basketball.

Originally the game was called mignonette, but soon its name changed to volleyball since players often volley the ball, that is, hit it in the air, breaking its trajectory.

Volleyball arrived in Europe with the American troops in the First World War. Since then, it has gained notoriety among sports until it became an Olympic sport in 1964, both in its male and female categories.

Its practice was prevalent in Eastern Europe, and nations such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria or the Soviet Union (and later Russia in its place) have traditionally been the great champions in this sport. Another very prominent country in women’s volleyball towards the end of the 20th century was Cuba.

General rules of volleyball

The general rules of volleyball are relatively simple. The two competing teams, each on one side of the net, must hit the ball with their hands and arms (or with any part of the body) so that it goes over the net and falls into the enemy’s territory.

To do this, they have a maximum of three consecutive hits before the ball passes over the net, and they must keep it moving at all times without holding it, stopping it or accompanying it along its path. Also, no player can hit the ball twice in a row.

The game usually starts with a service made by the team in turn, and from then on, both rivals alternate between:

Attack phases, in which the ball is controlled.
Defensive steps, in which the ball’s arrival over the net and the opponent’s movements are anticipated.

During both phases, the players have a fixed position on their respective courts, although they are allowed some freedom of movement. The players may cross the net towards the opponent’s court or pass the ball under it for no reason.

Finally, the ball must be in continuous movement during the play and permanently suspended in the air. The play ends when one of the teams fails to return the ball, and it touches the ground or leaves the playing area.

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