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Last Updated On: July 15, 2019
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Volleyball is a sports team ball game, the goal of which is to direct the ball towards the opponent, so that it lands on the opponent’s half, or to make the player of the opposing team make a mistake. The players are allowed to touch the ball only three times in a row during one attack.

History of Volleyball

It is assumed that volleyball emerged due to William G. Morgan, a P.E. teacher at one of the colleges in Holyoke (USA). In 1895, at one of his lessons, he hung the net (about 2 meters high) and suggested that his students throw a basketball camera over it. Morgan called this game “Mintonette”.

William G. Morgan

Two years later, the first volleyball was designed and put into production.

In the second half of the 1920s, National Federations of Bulgaria, the USSR, the USA, and Japan occurred.

In 1922, the first international competitions were held in Brooklyn. It was the YMCA Championship, in which 23 men’s teams participated.

In 1925, the modern dimensions of the court, as well as the size and weight of the volleyball were approved. These rules were relevant to the countries in America, Africa and Europe.

In 1947, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) was founded. The following countries became the members of the federation: Belgium, Brazil, Hungary, Egypt, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the USA, Uruguay, France, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.

In 1949, the first men’s world championship took place in Prague, and in 1964 volleyball was included in the program of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The national teams of the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Japan achieved the most success in international competitions of the 1960-1970s.

Since the 1990s, Brazil, the USA, Cuba, Italy, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia have been added to the list of the strongest teams.

Since 2006, FIVB comprises 220 national volleyball federations. The game is one of the most popular sports in the world.

Volleyball rules

A volleyball match consists of sets (from 3 to 5). The duration of the volleyball set is not limited and lasts until one team scores 25 points. If there is less than 2-point lead over the opponent, the set continues until the lead is increased. The match continues until one team wins three sets. It is worth noting that the maximum score in the fifth set is 15 instead of 25 points.

volleyball rules

Each of the two teams may have up to 14 players, but there may be 6 players on the floor at the same time.

The ball is introduced into the game by serving, the serving team is chosen by a coin toss. After each transfer of the right to serve from one team to another, the players move through the zones in clockwise order. The ball is served from behind the inline. If the server steps over the line, serves the ball out of the court or hits the net, the team loses the serve and the opponent gets a point. Any player has the right to take the serve; usually, it is a front row player. The serve is not blocked.

The front row player may perform a spike. Such a hit is carried out over the net. Back row players attack from the 3-meter mark.

The attack is blocked over the net so that the ball is prevented from flying over the net. While blocking, the players may put hands to the opponents’ side, without interfering them. Only front row players are blocked.

Volleyball Court

The volleyball court is rectangular in shape and has the following dimensions: it is 18 meters long and 9 meters wide. The net is located in such a way that its highest point is 2.43 meters high above the floor at men’s competitions and 2.24 meters high – at women’s competitions. These dimensions were approved by the International Volleyball Federation in 1925 and are relevant to this day. The playing surface should be horizontal, flat, uniform and light.

There is the concept of a free zone on the volleyball court. The dimensions of the free zone are specified and are as follows: 5-8 meters from the front lines and 3-5 meters from the sidelines. The free space above the court must be 12.5 meters.

The playing court is limited by two side and front lines, which are considered in the court dimensions. The axis of the middle line, drawn between the sidelines, divides the playing space into two equal parts 9 x 9 m. It is drawn under the net and marks off the opponents’ zones. The attack line is drawn on each half of the court three meters behind the middle line.

Volleyball Equipment

The most important attribute of the volleyball match is volleyball. Like any ball, the volleyball is a spherical construction consisting of an internal rubber chamber, which is hidden under natural or synthetic leather. Balls vary based on their purpose (official competitions, training games), age of the participants (adults, juniors) and type of the venue (open, closed).


Ball diameter varies from 20.4 to 21.3 centimeters, circumference – from 65 to 67 centimeters, internal pressure – from 0.300 to 0.325 kg/cm2, weight – from 250 to 270 grams. It is recommended to choose three-color balls since such a ball is easier to distinguish against the background of the bright players’ uniform.

Volleyball combines elements of jumping and running, so comfortable shoes are an important attribute. Shoes with soft soles are the most suitable for playing volleyball. Sometimes, special insole-shock absorbers are used additionally, they are very efficient in preventing injuries.

Athletes use knee pads and elbow pads for additional protection of joints.

Player specialization

  • Outside hitters (left-side hitters or right-side hitters) are players attacking from the edge of the net.
  • Opposite hitters are the tallest and the most bouncy team players, who attack from the back row, as a rule.
  • Middle blockers are tall players, who block the opponent’s attacks, they attack from the third zone.
  • Setters are the players, who determine the attack options.
  • Liberos are the main receivers, who are usually shorter than 190 centimeters.


The match officials are as follows:

  • The first referee. S/he carries out the duties while sitting or standing on the referees’ tower, which is located at one end of the net.
  • The second referee. S/he is located outside the playing court near the stand, opposite the first referee.
  • Secretary. The scorer carries out the duties while sitting at the secretary’s table, opposite the first referee.
  • Four (two) line referees. They control the side and front lines.


Official FIBV competitions require an assistant secretary.

The most large-scale volleyball competitions

The Olympic Games are the most prestigious volleyball competitions.

The World Championship is a competition of the strongest national volleyball teams, which are held once every four years. They are the second most prestigious volleyball competition after the Olympic Games.

The World Cup is an international tournament in men’s and women’s volleyball. It is held a year before the Olympic Games, and its prize-winners are secured to participate in the Olympic Games.

The World Champion Cup. The World Champion Cup is held a year before the year of the World Cup.

FIVB World League is the most prestigious commercial tournament for men’s national volleyball teams.

The Volleyball Grand Prix is the largest commercial tournament for the women’s national volleyball teams.

The European Championship is the competition of the strongest men’s and women’s national volleyball teams of the European Volleyball Confederation. It is held biennially.

Euroleague is an annual competition of national volleyball teams, held under the auspices of the European Volleyball Confederation.

Volleyball sports institutions


The International Volleyball Federation (French – Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, abbr. FIVB) is an international federation that comprises 220 national federations. The headquarters is located in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

The European Volleyball Confederation (French – Confédération Européenne de Volleyball, abbr. CEV) is an institution that controls the European volleyball. It comprises 55 national federations.

The All-Russian Volleyball Federation is an institution that controls Russian volleyball.


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