Advice for Learning How to Play Volleyball

If you're interested in learning to play volleyball, you need to learn the basic rules and a few things about strategy.
Advice for Learning How to Play Volleyball

Last update: 11 March, 2020

Volleyball is a very popular sport all over the world. It’s played by two teams of six players each, separated by a net. If you want to play volleyball, you can do it on the beach or inside on a court. Today, we’ll share some tips on how to get involved in this great game.

So what is volleyball?

To begin with, it’s a good idea to know something about the history of the sport. Volleyball was created in the United States in 1895, in the YMCA headquarters. The idea was to offer a game similar to basketball, but less intense so that it was accessible to older players.

Volleyball, just like its “cousin” basketball, was designed to be played in enclosed spaces or covered gyms. That’s because in the winter a lot of athletes couldn’t train because of the cold. The great thing about volleyball, however, is that you can play it outside too.  All you need is a net.

Play volleyball: the basic rules

Before playing, it’s also important to know something about the court. Volleyball is played on an 18 by 9-meter rectangle, divided in half by a net.

For women’s volleyball, the net should be 2.24 meters high, and 2.43 meters high for men. Unlike tennis, there’s a space approximately one meter high under the net.

Teams play for the best of three or five sets. In other words, for a team to win they have to win two or three sets. Each set plays to 25 points, except the last, which goes to 15 points.

You have to win a set by at least two points. Twenty-five to twenty-three, for example. If the other team is only down by one, play continues until there’s at least a two-point difference.

A game of women's volleyball.

You need six players to form a volleyball team. The game starts with a serve (a coin-toss determines who serves first, the other team chooses their side of the net). The player serves from the outside of the court (behind the backline) and the ball has to make it to the other side of the court without touching the serving team’s side.

The receiving team hits the ball to start the game, and after one or two more hits, they send the ball back to the other team.

How do you score? There are several ways to score. They are: when the ball touches the court on the other team’s side when it hits the net or when goes out of bounds, when a player hits it twice in a row, or when a team hits the ball four times or more before sending it back.

Tips for learning how to play volleyball

Beyond knowing the rules of the game in detail, the best advice we can give is to practice! Practicing is the only way you’ll become a great player or at least someone who can get the ball over the net and score some points. Here are some tips to get a good start in volleyball:

1. Learn the basic positions

The players who aren’t serving get into position leaning forward with their knees slightly bent, arms together in front of their chest, with their palms clasped together. This is a great position for receiving the ball.

Another position is a set, which you do by hitting the ball with both hands over your head. You should also learn how to spike, which is an aggressive downward hit. Blocks are also key, which is where you jump very close to the net with both hands up.

2. Practice your serve

This might be the hardest part of volleyball because it requires enough speed and power to make it over the net. Inexperienced players serve from below their shoulders, holding the ball in one hand and hitting it from below with their other first. 

Expert players serve above their shoulder. They throw the volleyball into the air, and hit it hard with their hand at head height.

A man about to spike in volleyball.

3. Play volleyball: learn some formations

When you play volleyball, there are different strategies that you can use. We should also mention that between one service and the next, the players rotate. That way everyone has a chance to play each position.

Depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the team, there are different formations you can use. The 4-2, for example, has two setters and four hitters, while the 5-1 has five hitters and only one setter.

Lastly, if you want to play volleyball, you have to be in good shape. Cardio and weight training are both really important. After that, all that’s left is to get some athletic clothes, good shoes, and knee pads to protect you if you fall. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s play!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.