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Quick Facts on Volleyball

By Contributing Writer

Volleyball is a great sport, whether playing competitively indoors on a court or just for fun outside on the beach. Here are some facts to get you started.

The Court

The dimensions for a standard volleyball court are 18 by 9 meters. There is a center axis line dividing the two courts into 9 by 9 meter playing areas, and this is where the net is set up. An attack line is 9 ft., 10 in. from the net, and this marks the boundary for a back row player to make a hit.

The Net

The net is 1 meter wide and stands 7 ft., 11 5/8 in. for men's play and 7 ft., 4 1/4 in. tall for women's play.

The Players: Front Row

Six players can be on the court per team. The most common offensive setup is to have three players in the front row and three playing in the back row. The person in the front middle position is usually considered the setter, who tries to get to the team's second hit in order to set the ball to be spiked.

The front left spot is called the strong side hitter, while the front right spot is called the weak side hitter. If the setter position is in the front right spot in a particular offense, the middle player's position turns into middle hitter.

The Players: Back Row

The person in the back right position is in the serving position, which is done behind the back boundary line. The remaining two back spots are defensive positions that should be prepared to defend the opposition's spikes, passes that make their way over the net and are most important in receiving a serve.

The Score

There are two ways to keep score: rally scoring and side-out scoring.

Rally scoring consists of a point being awarded on every single serve. This means if a team has the ball land on their side in play or makes a mistake that sends the ball out-of-bounds, the other team gets the point. Rally scoring plays until 25 points.

In side-out scoring, only the team with control of the serve can score a point. If the serving team makes a mistake, the ball simply transfers sides and no points are awarded. Side-out scoring plays until 15 points.

The Rules

A serve starts every play and must be completed behind the back boundary line. Most rules allow for the serve to hit the net and continue over to be a playable ball.

A server can also toss the ball up and let it drop without hitting it if he or she feels it was not done correctly, and he or she can make another attempt.

Only three hits are allowed on each side before the ball must go over the net. A bump, set, spike is the natural progression for play.

A hitter in the front row is not allowed to make contact with the net or have his or her feet land over the center line on the opposing team's court.

A hitter in the back row is not allowed to jump and hit a ball in front of the attack line (about 10 feet from the net).

Players rotate clockwise around the court, and substitutions can only be made between the same players.

A point is scored or a side-out occurs when the ball drops on one side of the court inside the boundary lines or if the ball is hit out-of-bounds by a team. A match is over when a best-of-three or a best-of-five games has been won.


Volleyball was created in 1895 in Holyoke, Mass., after William G. Morgan of the YMCA blended elements from basketball, tennis, baseball and handball.

The first official game was played on July 7, 1896, at Springfield College.

The set and spike originated in the Philippines in 1916.

More than 30 years later, the first two-man beach volleyball tournament was held in 1948.

In Tokyo, volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1964.

Two-person beach volleyball was added to the Olympics in 1996.

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