| This document attempts to capture the most important
differences between USA Volleyball outdoor and indoor rules. This
list is not intended to substitute for reading
the official USA Volleyball rule book, but should help to highlight
important differences between the two separate rules sets.
This document is written from the perspective
of a player who is familiar with indoor rules and curious about rules
for beach doubles. Each difference includes a
reference to the applicable outdoor (O) and/or indoor (I) USAV rules
from the current rule books (the original being the 1997-98 version).
Note that there are other sanctioning bodies for outdoor volleyball
including the AVP and the FIVB. As always, it's important to know which
rules you are using before getting into a rules discussion. :) This is especially important on the beach since the USAV beach ruleset isn't a commonly known/embraced by beach tournament directors as the USAV indoor rulebook is by indoor TD's. Local/homer rules tend to be very common, and sadly cause a large number of disputes.
Last updated: September 2004. And boy did it need it!
If you have any comments or suggestions on situations
that should be added to this list, please drop
me a line.
For a definitive interpretation of
any USA Volleyball beach rule, however, contact the current USAV Beach
Rules Interpreter, Patty Salvatore at email@example.com
USA Volleyball Beach/Outdoor Rules differences from USA Volleyball
- USAV has sanctioned the international FIVB smaller 8mx8m court as an
experimental rule. Not many folks state-side are using the new smaller
- You switch sides within games. Wind, sun, and variable
lighting on outdoor courts at night all point to the need for
switching sides within games. Side out scoring (SOS) games to 15 switch when
the sum of the teams' scores is a multiple of 5. SOS-11 games switch on multiples
of 4. Rally games to 21 points or more switch on multiples of 7. Rally games
to 15 switch on multiples of 5.
- You're likely to see any number of game formats
The advent of rally point scoring (RPS) has hit the beach, so get
ready for anything! USAV includes provisions for many permutations-- RPS-30,21,15
or SOS 15 or 11. This isn't that different from indoors, really, though people
seem to be using rally
scoring indoors fairly uniformly now. Now that the AVP is using RPS-21,21,15
matches now, rally is being used increasingly on the beach as well.
- Block counts as a team contact in outdoors doubles and triples.
This rule was changed for 1997-98. O13.1.3 states For doubles and
triples competition only: Blocking does constitute a team contact,
and any player may make the second contact of the ball after the block.
Indoors, the block is never considered one of the team's three allowable
contacts. Caveat: this rule is frequently ignored in grassroots play.
- Stricter calling of sets on the first ball. Outdoors, it
is illegal to double contact the first ball if the ball is not hard-driven
and if "finger
is used. This is similar to the way the indoor rules read prior to
1995. Indoors, it's now legal to double contact any first team contact,
which has led to some ugly, yet legal handling of free balls and
serves. To legally double a first ball when using finger
action (i.e. setting), you have to be defending a hard-driven attack.
That means, you're not receiving a serve. It also means you're defending
an opponent's attack on a ball that's moving fast enough such that
the referee can judge that you didn't have time to play the ball
any other way.
Outdoors, it is conceivable (but unlikely) that a serve could legally
be "set" by the receiving team, however, this contact
is judged with the same scrutiny as a normal set (not double contacted,
etc.). Applicable rules: O13.4.2, I18.104.22.168. In fact, it better be
absolute nectar, or except to get called!
- Restriction on setting the ball over the net. Indoors, there
are no restrictions on this action. In fact, the term "set"
is not even defined in the indoor rules. However, outdoor rules (doubles
and triples only) require a "set-over" to be perpendicular to your
body. An exception is made for sets to a teammate that happen to get
blown over the net:
O13.4.5 If the ball is intentionally set into the opponent's
court, the player must contact the ball with two hands above his/her
shoulders and set it directly forward or directly backward with relation
to his/her body.
O13.4.5 Commentary: A legal set directed toward a teammate that
crosses the net because of the elements is not a fault, regardless
of the player's body position.
- No open hand tips/dinks. In doubles,
triples, and 4's, this is a no-no outdoors. Alternatives
include palms, heel of the hand, locked straight fingers, knurled
fingers, or the back of the hand. O13.4.6, I14.4
- Legal to lift/push/carry a hard-driven
ball (click here for a full page describing this oft-misunderstood
rule) . Outdoors (used to be doubles and triples competition
only but for 97-98, extended to 4's and 6's too), it is legal to
lift or push a "hard-driven ball" on the first team contact.
This type of contact allows for overhand "beach digs" that
would be ruled as lifts indoors. "Hard-driven ball" is
defined as "an attack-hit or blocked ball traveling at a
high rate of speed, as judged by the referee). Outdoor rule 22.214.171.124
that case, the ball may be momentarily lifted or pushed, provided
the attempt is one continuous motion and the player does not change
the direction of that motion while contacting the ball." As
of 2004-05 and beyond, it is also legal to double contact such a
The spirit of this rule is to keep the ball in play longer. In doubles,
obviously there is a lot of court to cover, so the rules give some
leniency to allow for longer rallies.
- No center line. There is no center-line in outdoor volleyball.
You can penetrate under the net provided you do not interfere with
your opponent. O15.2,I16.3
- Lower ball pressure. Outdoor ball pressure is 2.5-3.2psi.
Indoor balls are much harder at 4.3-4.6psi.
- No penalty for serving out of order (doubles only). If an
out-of-order server is discovered, no penalty is charged. The offending
player continues serving, and that team's service order is simply
reversed such that no one player serves 3 times in a row. O126.96.36.199
- No antennas. Indoor rules strictly stipulate the use of antennas
to define the crossing space over the net. Outdoors, however, antennas
are rarely used except in pro competition. In the absence of antennas,
the posts act as antennas for all purposes except player contact.
- No position or back-row faults (doubles,
triples, 4's). In 2's, 3's, and 4's competition, players
can start and play anywhere. Only the service order must be obeyed.
This conveniently removes all concern about back row attacks/blocks.
In 6's competition, however, the indoor rules apply. O10.1.2, I10.1
- Stricter screening rule (2's and 3's). Unlike the
indoor rule (17.7) which
prohibits only groups of 2 or more passive players from screening,
the outdoor rule prohibits individual player screening as well. O16.7.1
states "On an opponent's request, a player must move sideways or bend
over or down [to prevent screening]." In the pros, you will often
hear the receiving team request that the blocker move left or right
so they can have a clear view of the server. Of course, it's illegal
for a single players to wave their arms, jump, or move with the server
in both outdoor and indoor rules. Prior to 2000-2001,
this stricter rule applied to all outdoor competition. In 2000-2001,
however, the rules were modified to make screening in 4's and 6's
identical to the indoor rules.
- Can retrieve a ball from opponent's side of the net Indoors,
once you've hit the ball completely across the net (either inside
or outside the crossing space), your team can no longer play it. Outdoors,
however, your partner may be able to bail you out of a shamefully
shanked pass that crosses the net outside of the crossing space:
14.1.2 A ball completely crossing the net below the net or entirely
outside the antennas (posts) may be recovered within the limits of the
three team contacts [Rule 15.1.3 and 15.1.4].
14.1.3 A ball completely crossing the net above the net and within or
over the antennas (posts) may not be recovered.
- No "girl rule" in co-ed play Indoor mixed-six rules stipulate
that a female must play the ball if "a team contacts the ball more
than one time during an offensive action." No such stipulations exist
in USAV Beach rules for mixed-six play.
- Switch courts every 5 points (15 point games), every 7 points
(for rally scoring 21 point games) or even 4 points (11 point sideout
games). Unlike indoors, wind and sun
play a constant
role. Being on the "good side" for an entire game is a
bit too much of an advantage for a decision of a coin toss.
- Match format. Currently (2004-05), USAV beach rules dictate
a best of 3 match where the first two games are played to 21 points
rally scoring switching every 7 points, and a deciding game if needed
is played to 15 points rally scoring, switch every 5 points. No point
cap, win by two. In 1999-2000, the USAV beach rules played a side-out
scoring game to 15 while
were (and still are in 2004-05)
rally scoring format for non-deciding games.
- Multiple Misconduct Warnings Possible (2's) In doubles
competition only, a player may be issued multiple misconduct warnings in a
game. In 3's 4's and 6's, the rule is the same as indoor--once a
warning is issued, the next step within that game must progress to
a misconduct penalty (loss of rally).
- Service tossing error (no longer a difference). This was
new for 1997-98--no service tossing errors are allowed under outdoor
rules. USAV made this change to come into line with FIVB rules. USAV
Indoor rules adopt this change for 1998-99.
O16.6 If the server releases the ball for service and does not
complete the service, the team will be penalized with a loss of rally.
Back up to Todd's Volleyball Rules and Referee Page....
- If you have any suggestions on situations that should be added
list, or spot anything that is out of date, please drop me
Copyright 1997-2004. Todd Haverkos. Unauthorized duplication is expressly