FAQ addition for rec.sport volleyball vers. 1.0
Rules Section: 11 July 1997
Revised by tdh vers. 1.1
removed references to rec.sport.volleyball FAQ, added beach 08 July 2000
interpretations, added notes on NFSHSA interp.
Revised by tdh vers. 1.2
Added note that 2004-2005 USAV indoor rules 12.4.4 29 Sept 2004
does not override 12.3.3
Revised by tdh vers. 1.3
USAV changed the indoor ruling finally! 2 May 2008
Q. Say I pass the ball a little too hard and it is about to go into
the net. Can a blocker on the other side of the net run up to the net
and place his hands such that the ball hits the net into his hands and
deflects the ball down? Is this legal?
A. It depends. Whether or not this action is legal is a factor of
which ruleset you are playing under, and whether or not the player
contacts the net in the effort to deflect the ball.
As is commonly known, the player should not be held at fault if the
impact of the ball drives the net into him or her.
However, under all of the rulesets commonly used, if a player
initiates the contact with the net, then they should be called for a
** USAV Indoor Rules:
As of May 2008, this play is no longer legal under USAV indoor rules. This is a change.
The following was issued in the 2007-08 season in Rules Interpretation Newsletter #2:
1. After Team A's first or second team contact, the ball travels toward the
middle of the net. A player from Team B places his hands near the net (on his
side of the net) in the path of the ball. The ball contacts the net, which causes
the net to contact the stationary hand(s) of the Team B player.
This action deflects the ball and affects the natural rebound of the ball from the net.
Ruling: Since the player on Team B moved to place their hands in the path of the ball,
the net touch in this action meets the USAV/FIVB interpretation of "interferes with play"
in Rule 11.3.1, and should be called a net fault by the Team B player.
Prior to 2008 the law of the land was:
USAV Indoor 16.4.3 (2004-2005 rule 12.3.3)
"When the ball is driven into the net and causes it to touch an
opponent, no fault is committed."
and that was interpreted by Tom Blue (90's) and reconfirmed by Steve Thorpe (in 2004)
as including intentionally moving to a place on the net to let the ball hit the player
so it can be deflected. But the ruling, as stated above, has indeed changed. And
for so much the better!
** USAV Beach Rules
See FIVB Beach Rules.
** NAGWS (Indoor) Rules:
The relevant NAGWS rule is:
9.7 Commentary - A Ball crossing vertical plane of net
(irrelevant parts snipped for clarity)
"_It is legal for a player to be contacted by a ball hit into
the net by an opponent, unless the referee deems the contact to be an
intentional effort to prevent further play._"
This commentary was incorporated into NAGWS rules for the 1996-97 season.
Thus, under NAGWS, the referee must determine if this was an
intentional play. This is different from USAV Rules, where the
official is only judging whether or not a net violation occured.
Ann Fruechte, the NAGWS Rules Interpreter,
offers this interpretation:
"Commentary 9.7 sums up the NAGWS position well. A player
cannot intentionally touch a ball that is in the body of the net; the
referee obviously determines intention. The general guideline is if a
player is positioned close to the net and is merely standing with hands
out and the ball and net move into the hands, it is an unintentional act
(passive); if the player makes movement with the hands toward the ball
then it's intentional (active). If the referee determines the act is
intentional the proper call is net violation."
A referee should exercise some judgement if a player puts her hands up
to protect herself and deflects the ball. The key concept here is that
the official must judge whether or not the contact was intentional,
unlike in the USAV interpretation, where a net fault is called only if
the player initiates the net contact.
** FIVB Indoor Rules:
Neill Luebke, Chairman of the Rules of the Game Commission for USAV
and an International Referee, supplies these thoughts:
"No organization interprets a Rule more literally than the FIVB. Do
not read ANYTHING into the Rule."
FIVB 12.3 (irrelevant parts removed):
"Contact with the net is a fault ...
When the ball is driven into the net and causes it to touch an opponent,
no fault is committed."
Neill adds that "nowhere does it state intent or describe a caveat for
performing such a feat. If it is not written, it is legal. The FIVB
tries very diligently to remove the referee's intent and his own
interpretation from influencing a play."
Rainer Perske (GER) adds these observations:
"If the player on the other side makes any movement towards the ball
while the ball is already touching the net, the player is _actively_
going into the net. Net Fault.
If the player on the other side stops any movement towards the net
before the ball begins touching the net, the player is _passive_.
No Fault, no misbehaviour, even if he did so intentionally."
This appears to concur precisely with the USAV indoor interpretation.
Christian Perrier (FRA) adds:
"The ref has here to decide whether the contact with the net was
caused by the ball driving the net into the player or not. Of course,
as described [in the question above], the net hits the hands of the
player, so there is no fault. However, the ref may also decide that
the net violation was due to an action of the player."
However, Jeffrey Gogol (CAN) says:
"In Canada, we have interpreted this play as legal as long as the player
does not move their hands either forward or to the side so that the
_ball contacts them_ through the net. They can set their hands in front
of them but they cannot make a play for the ball."
[Editor's note: Jeff Gogol's comments hint at the
FIVB beach interpretation.... ]
** FIVB Beach Rules
[ Editor's note: the beach interpretation for FIVB appears to differ
from indoor FIVB. I am in the process of contacting members of the
FIVB beach officials division for verification. The following text,
however, appeared in the FIVB 1999 Beach Refereeing Guidelines:
A player who reaches towards and contacts the ball through the
net when the ball is on the opponent's side causing the
opponents not to have a play on the ball will be
penalised. Conversely, a ball hitting a player through the net
when the player did not attempt to contact the ball would not
be a penalty (i.e.: they had a potential play on the ball or
were in an existing position). Note: This situation is
penalised as a net touch as the player is considered to have
touched the net, not the ball causing the net to touch them.
** High School (NFSHSA, or "Federation") Rules:
For the 2001-2002 Rule Book there is a change making it explicitly illegal:
There is interference by a player who makes:
Intentional contact with a ball which the opponent has caused to pass
partially under the net or into the body of the net and the opponent is
attempting to play it again.
(thanks to John Villalovos for informing me of this change)
Q. Yeah, but is it sportsmanlike?
A. Well, that's a question to be debated outside of the rules. As far
as the rules go, it's either a fault or it isn't, and we defer
to the judgement of the respective rules interpreters.
The compilers of this addition to the FAQ would like to recognize
the following people for their contributions of wisdom and prose
to this document: Tom Blue, Ann Fruechte, Jeffrey Gogol, Kevin Lentin,
Neill Luebke, Christian Perrier, Rainer Perske, and Joel Reinford.
Excellent peer review and commentary was provided by Rob Peglar, Joel
Reinford, and Neill Luebke.
All of these rulesets are publically available, and can be obtained
online rules at:
NAGWS rulebooks: National Assoc. for Girls & Women in Sport
1900 Association Dr. Reston, VA 22091
(703)-476-3400 FAX: (703)-476-9527
FIVB rules: Available online at:
This FAQ addition was compiled by
Michael Bertz (email@example.com) and Todd H. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This FAQ was never added to the rec.sport.volleyball FAQ and
will be maintained as a separate entity.
Currently maintained by Todd Haverkos <email@example.com>