Home Volleyball Illegal Hits in Volleyball: Rules and Implications

Illegal Hits in Volleyball: Rules and Implications

Volleyball, a dynamic and fast-paced sport, requires players to possess a blend of physical agility, strategic thinking, and technical skill. Central to the game is the concept of legal and illegal hits, which significantly influence the flow of play and outcomes of matches. This article delves into what constitutes illegal hits in volleyball, exploring the rules, types, and consequences, while also examining their impact on the game.


The Essence of Volleyball Hits

In volleyball, a “hit” refers to any contact a player makes with the ball. The primary goal is to send the ball over the net in such a manner that the opposing team cannot return it. However, the manner in which the ball is contacted is governed by strict regulations to ensure fairness and maintain the integrity of the game. Illegal hits are specific violations of these regulations, leading to point deductions or awarding points to the opposing team.


Defining Illegal Hits

Illegal hits in volleyball can occur in various forms, often involving improper techniques or multiple contacts. The Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), the governing body for international volleyball, provides comprehensive rules to delineate legal from illegal hits. Understanding these rules is crucial for players, coaches, and referees to ensure fair play and avoid penalties.


Types of Illegal Hits

Double Hit:

A double hit occurs when a player contacts the ball twice in succession. This typically happens during attempts to set the ball, where the ball might momentarily rest on the player’s fingers, resulting in two distinct contacts. For instance, if a setter’s hands are not perfectly synchronized, it may lead to an unintentional double hit.


Carry (or Lift):

A carry, or lift, happens when a player does not cleanly hit the ball but instead allows it to rest momentarily in their hands or arms. This action resembles catching or throwing the ball rather than striking it. The ball should be hit cleanly and quickly, without any prolonged contact.

Four Hits:

Each team is allowed a maximum of three hits to return the ball over the net. If a team uses four hits, it is considered a fault. This usually occurs due to miscommunication or mishandling of the ball among team members.

Blocking Faults:

Blocking is a defensive move where front-row players jump near the net to prevent the ball from crossing. However, certain actions during blocking can lead to illegal hits. For instance, if a blocker contacts the ball in the opponent’s space before or simultaneously with the opponent’s attack hit, it is deemed illegal. Also, blocking a serve is prohibited.

Back-Row Attack Faults:

A back-row player cannot attack the ball above the net’s height if they are in front of the attack line (10-foot line). If a back-row player jumps from in front of this line and contacts the ball above the net, it constitutes an illegal back-row attack.

Net Touch:

Players are not allowed to touch the net during play. A net touch can occur during an attack, block, or any other form of contact with the ball. If a player touches the net, it is considered a fault, leading to a point for the opposing team.

Illegal Serve:

The serve must be executed correctly, adhering to specific guidelines. A serve that fails to cross the net, lands out of bounds, or is executed improperly (e.g., stepping on or over the end line during the serve) is considered illegal.

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Implications of Illegal Hits

Impact on Gameplay

Illegal hits disrupt the flow of the game, often resulting in immediate stoppages. Each illegal hit not only grants a point to the opposing team but also can shift momentum. For instance, a double hit by a setter during a crucial rally can deflate a team’s morale and shift the game’s momentum in favor of the opponents.

Strategic Considerations

Coaches and players must be vigilant about avoiding illegal hits. This vigilance involves extensive training and practice to refine techniques. Setters work on their hand positioning to avoid double hits, while hitters and blockers practice timing and precision to prevent net touches and blocking faults. The strategic element lies in minimizing errors while capitalizing on opponents’ mistakes.

Training and Technique

Proper training is essential to mitigate the risk of illegal hits. Coaches focus on drilling correct techniques into players from a young age. For example, setters practice quick, clean sets to prevent double hits, while hitters and blockers are trained to maintain body control and spatial awareness to avoid net touches and illegal blocks.

Referee’s Role

Referees play a crucial role in identifying and penalizing illegal hits. They must possess a keen eye for detail and a thorough understanding of the rules. Their judgments can significantly impact the game’s outcome, making their role both challenging and vital. Consistency and fairness in officiating are paramount to maintain the sport’s integrity.


Illegal hits in volleyball are a fundamental aspect of the game’s regulatory framework, ensuring fair play and competitive integrity. Understanding the various types of illegal hits, their implications, and the importance of correct techniques is crucial for anyone involved in the sport. Players, coaches, and referees must work together to minimize these infractions, thereby enhancing the quality and enjoyment of the game.

Volleyball, while intricate and fast-paced, thrives on the precision and skill of its players. By adhering to the rules and focusing on proper training, players can avoid illegal hits, maintain the game’s flow, and contribute to an exciting and fair sporting experience. As the sport continues to evolve, the emphasis on clean, legal hits will remain a cornerstone of volleyball’s enduring appeal.


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