Volleyball variations

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As volleyball is one of the world's most popular team sports, second only to football(soccer) in the number of players, there are numerous variations of the basic rules. The rules have changed around the world since its creation in 1895, as skills have developed, to make the game more suited for spectators, for learning or other special needs. Some variations have been included as a change in the international rules by Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), others have resulted in variations with specific names.

The more notable variations include:

Beach volleyball[edit]

Main article: Beach volleyball
Rows of beach volleyball nets in Huntington Beach, California.

A variation of the game rivaling the original sport of volleyball in popularity, beach volleyball evolved from the recreational games of volleyball played on many beaches around the world. It became an official Olympic sport in 1996. This version, rather than being played on indoor hard courts, is played on sand courts which may either be formed naturally or built specifically for the purpose. Instead of a team of six, each team consists of only two players, but otherwise the rules are almost identical with some exceptions including:

  • The size of the court (16m x 8m)
  • The block counts as the first contact
  • The banning of the open-hand dink or dump plays where a player uses his or her finger tips to redirect the ball into the opponent's court instead of a hard spike. A dink may be performed with a closed hand or knuckle
  • Stricter rules around double-contacts during hand setting
  • The time limit for serve is 5 seconds
  • Games are usually played to 21 points, rather than 25 as common in indoor volleyball. The first team to win two sets wins the match. If a third deciding set is required, it is played to 15.

Indoor sand volleyball[edit]

This is a newer variation of beach volleyball. As beach volleyball took volleyball outdoors, indoor sand volleyball takes beach volleyball indoors. In the United States, a growing number of colleges are now considering switching from hard court indoor volleyball to sand court indoor volleyball. The biggest reason for the possible change is the reduced rate of injury of players. Secondary reasons are: 1) bad weather doesn't cancel play, something that commonly happens with beach volleyball; 2) it is thought to make the game more appealing to spectators since sand courts do not require players to wear knee pads or shoes.

Indoor sand volleyball teams vary from two to six members, college teams having six. Normally, rather than using a purpose-built hall, an indoor basketball court is converted. A protective tarpaulin covers the floor of the basketball court and "soft" sand is laid a foot deep over it. The boundaries are commonly marked off with lines in the sand. However, a recent innovation uses colored lasers that illuminate the lines in the sand.

In some venues, there exist sand courts that are used as usual during the spring, summer, and fall months, but during the winter months, a large tent (usually dome-shaped) is erected over the courts.

Shooting volleyball[edit]

In shooting volleyball the team consists of normally seven players. Three players play at the back side, three players play center of the court, and one player stands in front of the net. Any ball that goes to into the net is to be thrown out by the player who is standing in front of it, also known as the net man. Some players also smash the ball with high vertical leaps like Olympic volleyball but there is no setter in team. In this game players hit the ball with both hands by punching it with both hands. They try to hit as fast as they can in order to force a mistake from opponent players and try to get rebound as a setted ball for any player to smash it with jump using one hand and if the player standing under the net misses the ball than defender try to take ball using under hand and give maximum height to it. When one player smashes the ball with great skill the spectators give prize money to that player and the game has to stop at that time.

Shooting volleyball court is 35 ft and 70 ft in length. Net height was 8 ft before some years but nowadays the net height is 7.2 ft to 7.5 ft (2.20m) The ball size is same to handball. Shooting volleyball is popular in Pakistan (Punjab) and India, especially North Indian States.

Footbag net[edit]

Main article: Footbag net

Footbag net is similar to sepak takraw and footvolley. It's played with feet instead of hands. Footbag net combines elements of tennis, badminton, and volleyball. Specifically, the court dimensions and layout are similar to those of badminton; the scoring is similar to the old scoring system in volleyball (you must be serving to score); and serves must be diagonal, as in tennis. It is played one on one or in teams of two. Footbag net games can be played to eleven or fifteen points, although the winners must win by at least two points.

Newcomb ball[edit]

Main article: Newcomb ball

A simplified form used to teach the fundamentals of volleyball, Newcomb [1] (occasionally referred to as "Nuke 'em") is generally taught to school-aged children but is also popular among adults of limited athletic ability. Its main differences from regular volleyball are that the ball can be caught before passing on to a team-mate or over the net, and each pass or serve is a throw rather than a hit. While most other volleyball rules apply, variations on the numbers of players per team and the numbers of 'catches' per side are common, and players holding the ball are sometimes allowed a limited number of steps.

Newcomb (or Newcomb Ball) was invented in 1895 by Clara Gregory Baer, a physical education instructor at Newcomb College in Louisiana.[2]

Volleyball was independently invented in the same year. Newcomb was a popular competitive sport in the early 1900s, but it is now seen as a variation of volleyball and is played mostly by school children.

Newcomb can be also played in a way similar to dodgeball. The main and only difference in the less played version is that instead of scoring points, a teammate is eliminated if he or she makes a mistake. The game continues until all of the players on one team are eliminated.

Sepak Takraw[edit]

Main article: Sepak Takraw

Sepak Takraw is a variant of volleyball popular in Asia, similar to footvolley. The rules are very similar to those in volleyball, with the following four important exceptions: The use of hands is not permitted, each player may only touch the ball once before it is kicked back over the net, there is no rotation in the defence position and players use their feet to get the ball over the net. The game is played on a badminton doubles court. Another similar game played with the feet and originating in Thailand is Buka ball.


Main article: Footvolley

Footvolley is an entirely new sport which combines beach volleyball and soccer skills where the difference is that the players may not contact the ball with their hands or arms; instead they can use all other body parts including their feet, head and chest, etc. Sport originated in Brazil; but is quickly becoming popular in the US, Europe, and Asia.

Sitting volleyball[edit]

Main article: Paralympic volleyball

Sitting volleyball for locomotor-disabled individuals was first introduced in 1956 by the Dutch Sports Committee. International competition began in 1967, but it would be 1978 before the International Sports Organisation for the Disabled (ISOD) sanctioned the sport and sponsored an official international tournament in 1979 at Haarlem, Netherlands.

The game is played on a smaller 10 x 6 meter court and with a 0.8 meter-wide net set to a height of 1.15 meters for men and 1.05 meters for women. When hitting or attacking the ball, the player must have one "buttock" or an extension of the torso still in contact with the floor. Traditionally the sport has been played not only by amputees and people with polio, but people who have orthopedic problems in their knees or ankles. Often players with no sitting volleyball classification are on the club teams.[3] Because of the game's quick pace, the use of your hands to move and play the ball, good balance and a sturdy bottom are a necessity. Consequently, it is not the ideal sport for most paraplegics.

Men's sitting volleyball was introduced to the Paralympic Games in 1980 and has grown to be one of the more popular Paralympic sports due to the fast and exciting action. Women's sitting volleyball was added to the program for the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Greece. The international governing body for the sport is The World Organisation Volleyball for Disabled (WOVD). The WOVD was founded in 1980 in the Netherlands, by the Dutchman Pieter Joon.

Traditional Volleyball[edit]

Traditional volleyball has its roots in East Africa, India, and Pakistan. The game is usually played within the Ithna Ashari Muslim, Bohra Muslim, Ismaili Muslim, Punjabi, and Hindu communities worldwide. Traditional volleyball varies from indoor gymnasium play, outdoor play on sand, grass, or clay, as well as street volleyball for recreation.

There is a three-touch system like International volleyball, however, traditional volleyball does not require the bump-set-spike scenario. Instead, traditional volleyball is based on a consistent volley of the ball, only the serving side can score, and players play a style which is considered "closed hand/fist" play. The game can be played with up to nine participants per side (similar to Asian nine-man volleyball, but with variations to the game), or as little as five. There is no rotation in traditional volleyball, however, in certain East Indian and Southeast Asian communities, they do allow rotating as the rules tend to vary from team to team. The court can vary from 30' to 30' to as large as '35 by '35.

Some of the best traditional volleyball teams are centered in Canada, from Toronto North, Toronto East, Jaffery's and United Stars, to Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Port Moody. The weight of the ball varies as well, in North America they play with a lighter ball, around 10.5-11 lbs. of pressure. However in East Africa, India, and Pakistan the game is played with a heavier ball, anywhere from 12 to 14 lbs. of pressure. Spiking is usually allowed on first contacts with the ball, however this is no longer allowed in North America.

Some of the key positions on the team are Net Center (or nettie), he is responsible for lifting and/or digging the ball out of the net on a second touch. In the old days, the nettie was encouraged to lift the ball up and over the net to the opposing team. As the years went by, and the variant styles of the game were changing, the nettie was encouraged to lift the ball back to his team so that they could strike the ball (third touch) to the opposing side, and keep the volley going. There was usually one nettie per team, today, teams are allowed to play with up to two netties simultaneously, or even a third nettie on the far right or left corners of the net-thus preventing an advantage of the opposing team to drop or 'dink' the ball. The short center position, which is relatively new, is a position that was previously called the 'sweeper' position. This position was put into fruition in Canada some years ago, and the object of the short center is to strike the ball into the net as much as he can, so that the nettie can give a nice, high, clean lift to his team to strike back to the opposing side.

The third and probably most important position is the Long Center (formerly third line), he controls the pace, tempo, and speed of the game, and is instrumental in taking points by a method called flights or shooting. Everyone else on the team, from the front line wings to the back line wings, as well as the serviceman also play pivotal roles on the team. The serviceman is not allowed to serve overhand though. Traditional Volleyball teams play in local, state, provincial, regional, national, and even international tournaments every year. From Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, to Karachi and centers in Western Europe, the game is growing, more youth are now playing traditional volleyball, and the hope is that one day, this version of volleyball could be played at the Asian Games or even the Olympics.

Unlike the FIVB, there is no governing body for traditional volleyball. There was an attempt in the mid to late 1990s and into the millennium, to form a North American league called TVANA-Traditional Volleyball Association of North America. This league had three tournaments in Houston, before folding.

Wook Ball[edit]

Created in Central New York, Wook Ball can be played with 2-4 players on each court. In this game, the ball can be caught and thrown rather than be hit across like in traditional volleyball. Each team is allowed two touches before having to throw the ball back across the net. The ball is allowed one bounce on a team's side per possession (similar to table tennis). Players are allowed to take 2 steps with the ball before passing or throwing it over the net. This is the full list of rules:

  • 1. Two players per team.
  • 2. Serve is thrown across, can hit the net and go over, if it does not go over or hits out of bounds, point and serve goes to the other team. No Redos.
  • 3. Like in Volleyball, servers rotate.
  • 4. The ball can be touched Twice before going across the net
  • 5. The ball can be played off of one bounce, if a pass is dropped it is considered a bounce, and is still in play if that is the first bounce of the possession.
  • 6. Players can take two steps with the ball before passing or throwing over the net
  • 7. Games are played to 11, in a best of 5 games series to determine match winner.
  • 8. If the ball hits the net, except on a serve, it can be caught and be ruled a pass. If the team in question has already made their two touches, the ball is dead and point and serve goes to the other team.
  • 9. If the ball hits the ground on a pass, and it is the second bounce of the possession, the other team receives the point and serve.
  • 10. If the ball is passed more than two times in one possession, the other team receives the point and serve.

Wook Ball is a fairly new sport, just recently creating a Facebook page in which to spread awareness of its existence. https://www.facebook.com/Wookball

Nine-man volleyball[edit]

Main article: 9-man
A triple block in a game of nine-man volleyball

Nine-man volleyball is a variation of volleyball utilizing nine players and a slightly larger court (10 by 20 meters) originated in Asia in the 1920s when American missionaries introduced the game in China. The birthplace of 9man can be speculated to be the city of Tai-Shan, China where 9man tournaments are played regularly, sometimes even for prize money. 9man is also played for recreation in South Korea.

The variant became popular within the Chinese-American communities community in New York City and spread to Chinatowns other large US and Canadian cities. The North American version of 9man volleyball continues to grow with a rotating popular tournament called the North American Chinese Invitational Volleyball Tournament. It was played in the Asian Games in 1958 and in 1962.

Aside from the larger court and additional players, rule differences for 9man volleyball in Asia and of those used in the NACIVT differ.

The major rule differences from indoor volleyball and NACIVT 9man rules include (Those rules in italics only apply within NACIVT rules):

  • A lower net (235 cm rather than 243).
  • Players don't rotate--front players stay in front (and thus never serve), and back players in back.
  • If the ball touches the net between two contacts by the same team, those two contacts only count as one of the three allowed before the ball must be sent over the net. The same player may legally make both contacts.
  • It is permitted to briefly carry the ball during a spiking motion.
  • Players may not penetrate the plane of the net while blocking.
  • If a player touches the ball while blocking, it counts as one of the three allowed contacts.
  • Jump serving is illegal.
  • It is illegal to touch the ball with any body part besides the hands and arms.
  • A served ball which hits the top of the net and falls inside the boundaries of the opponents' court entitles the server to a second chance (like tennis).
  • There is no "ten foot line": any player may attack the ball from anywhere on the court.

9man rules used in Asia are slightly different:

  • Players do not rotate, however every player on the court must serve at some point.
  • Carrying or lifts are not legal.
  • Players may penetrate the plane of the net when blocking.
  • Jump-serving is legal.

In South Korea, nine-man volleyball is popular as a recreation. But those who plays it are not used to the detailed rule of the game because they generally watch only 6-man volleyball (standard volleyball) on TV or somewhere. So the rule generally played tends to be the mixture of the original 9-man volleyball and standard volleyball.


Main article: Wallyball

Wallyball is played in a racquetball court, which is divided into two halves by a net. The game is played like volleyball, with the added complexity that players may carom the ball off a side wall when playing it into the opponents' court. If a ball played over the net contacts the ceiling, the opponent's back wall, or both side walls without being touched by an opponent, the ball is ruled out of bounds. The pace of the game is generally fast, as the confined quarters encourage quick action and the walls often keep the ball conveniently in play.


Main article: Bossaball

Bossaball is a mix of volleyball, football (soccer), gymnastics and capoeira. The court is a combination of inflatables and trampolines, divided by a net.

Mixed teams[edit]

Most competitive volleyball is played with same-sex teams (exclusively so at the elite levels, although the International Volleyball Association ran a professional co-ed league in the 1970s). Different sets of rules have been drafted to allow for mixed teams, often known as "coed" teams in the United States. The net is at men's height for "regular coed" and women's height for "reverse coed". Several adaptations are common, some of them to compensate for the men's greater reach and strength. The FIVB rules used internationally do not support mixed play, but USA Volleyball, the national governing body for the United States, has specific rules, the main points of which are:

  • A minimum number of female players must be on the court (usually 3 males and 3 females)
  • Alternating male and female players in the rotation.
  • In reverse coed the men are prohibited from attacking a ball above the height of the net from in front of the attack line. Men can attack a ball that is above the height of the net from anywhere on the court, but the ball must take an immediate upward trajectory. Men can jump serve, but are not allowed to block. If there is only one female player on the front row, then one back row female may come from the back row to block, but not hit. If the ball is touched more than once on one side then a male player must make one of the contacts. Strategically, this usually means that a male setter is used.
  • In regular coed, if there is only one male player in the front row then one man may come from the back row to block, but not hit. If the ball is touched more than once on one side then a female player must make one of the contacts. Female players have no blocking or attacking restrictions. Strategically, this usually means that a female setter is used.

Ecuadorian volleyball (Ecua-volley)[edit]

Main article: Ecua-volley

Ecua-volley is a variant of volleyball invented and played in Ecuador. Differences include a higher net and the use of a soccer ball.

Nutso volleyball[edit]

A variation with an unspecified number of players. It is played indoors using regulation volleyball nets, most commonly in a gymnasium. The ball may bounce two times on each side and may also be bounced off the walls, ceiling, or any other permanent fixture in the gymnasium. It is a registered Physical Education activity under the New York, Maryland and Massachusetts Board of Education standards. Most often played in North American high schools as a less-competitive education tool, promoting bump-passing and spiking, Nutso Volleyball is evidenced to be spreading to the United Kingdom, as evidenced in the Carlton Carr film Click starring Adam Sandler.


Jollyball is a cross between juggling and volleyball. A juggling ball is passed between players who must catch it by using the ball, plus the two that they are holding, to perform a juggling pattern.

Soft volleyball[edit]

Soft volleyball is played using a larger rubber volleyball, which is designed to absorb initial impact on the arms. Ideally this type of volleyball is used to introduce the game to first time players and adolescents, with a focus on control, fundamentals of the game and just having fun. The Soft Volleyball is commonly used in Japanese Elementary and Junior Highschools for the very purpose mentioned above. A usual game of Soft Volleyball has 4 people per side rather than 6.

Aquatic volleyball[edit]

Main article: Water Volleyball

Aquatic volleyball is a team sport similar to volleyball, but adapted for competition in a shallow swimming pool. It is also referred to as "pool volleyball", and sometimes as "aquapolo", not to be confused with water polo. Players must change sides after each round for it to be fair. Each round is up to 15 points, however you need to win by two points. If the ball hits the edge of the pool but bounces back in, that is fair. If the ball hits the edge of the pool and bounces out, that is not fair.

Beach aquatic volleyball[edit]

Beach aquatic volleyball is an individual or team sport similar to aquatic volleyball adapted for play in the shallow water of a beach.

Jail ball[edit]

Volleyball that is played over a large fence instead of a net. Usually played because a lack of sand volleyball courts. Grabbing and scaling the fence are legal because of the difficulty of blocking and spiking.


Spikeball is played 2 on 2 with rules like volleyball. As stated by Urban Dictionary, “A taut Hula Hoop-sized net is placed at ankle level between a pair of two-player teams. You smack the palm-sized ball down on the net so it ricochets up at your opponents. They have up to three hits between them to control it and bounce it back to you. When they miss, you score. First team to 21 wins."


Manball is a recent version of volleyball played with only 2 to 4 people per team, and using a 10 lb. rubber medicine ball. It is played much like beach volleyball but instead of hitting the ball, players catch and throw the ball in one fluid motion. Manball combines a cardiovascular workout with a weight lifting workout into a game that does not feel like either. (For full game rules see manball.info)

Short Court[edit]

Short court is usually played as a warm up to a volleyball practice or game. It is played with any number of players on each side using the side lines and the attack line as boundaries. The server serves the ball from behind the attack line and most regular volleyball rules apply. Any player may hit the ball, however, and the rules for attacking vary slightly. Because of the length of the court an attacker may "throw" the ball as long as he uses only one hand and does it while remaining in the air.


Popularized by President Herbert Hoover, Hooverball is played with a volleyball net and a medicine ball; it is scored like tennis, but the ball is caught and then thrown back. The weight of the medicine ball can make the sport to be quite physically demanding; annual championship tournaments are held annually in West Branch, Iowa.

Histon Rules[edit]

Histon Rules are a set of variations on the standard rules applied by the St Andrews Men's Sports group in Histon, near Cambridge, England. The new/modified rules employed are the following:

1. A service return must not go directly back across the net.

2. After three consecutive winning points on serve the server must switch serving hand.

3. The ball may be played only with the hands.

4. A "Masson" shot is disallowed except as the third touch by the side. A Masson shot is one played with two hands with one's back to the net which crosses to the other side.


A version of the game used for primary school students. Underarm serves are used instead of overarm, and players are allowed to hold the ball. This is called a 'carry'. There are 9 players in each team, and rotation is in an inverted 'S' shape. It is often played in Interschool Sport matches.

Other Volleyball variations for youth[edit]

Volley 2000, invented in Sweden in the 1980s, is adapted for young players and other beginners. It is played with the same rules as standard volleyball with some expetions: net height is 2,00 m, 4 (min. 3) players in the court, one bounce allowed, underhand serve allowed at the 3 m line, no libero. Normally played best in 3 sets, and peers serve as referees in tournaments. National and international tournaments with hundreds of teams are held for players 10–14 years in Northern Europe.
Kidsvolley was invented in Denmark in 2001 and is adapted for 6-9-years-old kids, as a soft introduction to volleyball, in a very entertaining way, divided into level 0 to 2, according to skill level. The ball is caught with the hands, and if it thrown out, in the net or dropped to the floor, the failing player must leave the court. Depending on the level one player can enter again when a ball is received properly, but whenever all 4 team members are "out" the other team scores points. In Northern Europe Kidsvolley is used in schools and in volleyball clubs, and local tournaments are arranged by the district volleyball associations. In Germany and Austria, volleyball for youth is played with basically standard rules but smaller courts, lower nets and less players 2,3 or 4), to allow each player have more ball contact and keeping the ball in play for a longer time, thus maintaining a higher level of interest.

Informal variations[edit]

There are a number of volleyball variations that do not have a standardized set of rules. Mud volleyball, played in mud pits, is one. Mud volleyball tournaments are often organized as fundraisers.


Fistball (Germ. "Faustball") has many similarities with volleyball and was known in Central Europe at least from the 16th Century, thus of different origin. The game came to the USA first in 1911 with Christopher Carlton. It is often played in 5 player teams, outdoor on a grass field 50m x 20m. One bounce is allowed between each hit.


Pioneerball - a game with a ball, similar in its rules to volleyball. Originated in the USSR in the 30s of the 20th century. The name of the game comes from the fact that it's a game with a ball and was played by pioneers.

Rules of the Game[edit]

The game is played with a volleyball on the volleyball court. Each team has from 3 to 8 players. The court is conventionally divided by the number of players into 6 - 7 zones. The first player throws the ball from the far edge of his half of the court over the net to the half of the court of the opposing team. One of the players who catch the ball can make no more than three steps on their half of the court, throw it back over the net to the half of the court of the first team. One of the first team's players also has to catch the ball and make no more than three steps, throw it to the half of the court of the opposing team. And so on until the ball hits the ground, then the team which threw the ball last scores one point. In this game, like in volleyball, players move around the court to the next area in a clockwise direction after winning the ball service. After 15 points, the teams change sides of the field, and play the second set. If the result of the two sets is 1-1, the third set is assigned. And also if the ball hits the net, the score is not counted. The rules of this game are neither officially approved nor recorded, so they may differ slightly from the place to place.

Pioneerball with two balls[edit]

It is played by two teams of six to eight players in each squad. The total number of players is 12-16 players. The player of the first team gets one ball, and the player of the second team gets the second ball. They are located at the corners - each on his half of the court, and prepare for the ball service (throwing the ball to the opponent's half of the court) at the referee's whistle. After the whistle the task of each team is to avoid both two balls to be simultaneously situated on their side of the court, if the both balls simultaneously touch the hands of the players or land on their side of the court, the opposing team scores a point. The rest of the rules are similar to the basic version of pioneerball. There is also a variation of pioneerball for blind children.


  1. ^ A Guide to Volleyball Basics (PDF). USA Volleyball. p. 5. Retrieved 2012-08-07. Perhaps the least known but simplest version of volleyball is Newcomb. 
  2. ^ Paul, Joan, A Lost Sport: Clara Gregory Baer and Newcomb Ball, Journal of Sport History, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Summer 1996)
  3. ^ Ng, Kwok (2012). When Sitting is Not Resting: Sitting Volleyball. Bloomington, IL: Authorhouse. p. 152. ISBN 978-1-4772-1789-4. 

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