Back to Basics: How to Play Volleyball

Volleyball requires athleticism, communication, and strategy. This sport consists of many variables that need to be executed to play correctly. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran, it is always a good idea to brush up on your volleyball knowledge by studying the fundamentals. Rocky Mount Event Center wants to help you become a better volleyball player and a better teammate. This blog will help you understand the rules, skills, and strategy of volleyball.

Core Basics

There are fundamental elements that make volleyball unlike any other sport. Before you dive in and try to play, it’s best to understand the basics. While indoor volleyball is different than sand volleyball, the key objective of the game is the same: score more points than the other team. 

To learn more about the differences between sand volleyball and indoor volleyball, check out this related blog: Difference Between Sand and Indoor Volleyball.

Team Setup

When you are playing volleyball, you will usually have six players per team; this is the requirement for competitive indoor volleyball games. However, if you are just playing a pickup game with friends, simply make sure you have the same number of players on each side of the net. The players on each team are traditionally positioned in two rows: a front row and a back row.

Game Duration

It can be challenging to predict the duration of a volleyball game because a close match can take much longer than a blowout. A college indoor volleyball match is played to the best of five sets, while a highschool match is played to the best of three sets. Each set is played to the best of three games. Each game is played to 25 points. 

So a close game could end up lasting five sets, each set with three games, and each game with 25 points! Typically, one set of play lasts around one hour — about 20 minutes per game. 

Court Dimensions

Indoor volleyball court dimensions are the same across all indoor courts. Each volleyball court is 18 meters long x 9 meters wide. This translates to 59 feet long x 29.5 feet wide. There are several lines which divide the volleyball court into sections, such as the serving area and the attack line. For men’s competition, the net is 2.43 meters (7 feet 11 ⅝ inches) above the centerline of the volleyball court. For women’s competition, the net is 2.24 meters (7 feet 4 ⅛ inches) above the centerline. 

Game Objective

The most obvious objective of volleyball is to score more points than the opposing team. However, there are other, smaller objectives in the game such as keeping the serve as long as possible, forming the perfect set-to-spike play, forcing the other team to make a mistake, and much more. 

Scoring Process

There are two primary scoring methods for volleyball: the rally scoring method and the sideout method.

Rally Scoring

When you are using rally scoring, your team scores a point whenever the opposing team fails to return the volleyball back over the net, hits the ball out of bounds, or commits an infraction. This is the faster of the two scoring methods because, for each serve, one team will score a point. 

Sideout Method

In sideout scoring, only the team serving the volleyball can score a point. As the serving team, if the opposing team fails to return the volleyball, hits the ball out of bounds, or commits an infraction, you will earn a point. As the non-serving team, if the opposing team fails to win the point, you win the right to serve. Now that you have won the right to serve, your team can earn a point if you win the rally.


There are really only two major pieces of equipment that are required for a volleyball game: a volleyball and a net. Not all volleyballs are the same, though! For indoor play, it is best to use a leather volleyball, as it is less likely to be damaged, scratched, or popped indoors. These indoor volleyballs are also heavier than outdoor balls. The weight helps them to hit harder and move faster. Sand volleyballs are softer, lighter, and slightly bigger than indoor balls. This allows them to float in the air longer, giving players extra time to cover the volleyball court. 

Player Positions

There are six players on the court, forming two rows of three. The front row is usually two wing spikers and a setter. They primarily focus on the hard hits and defensive blocks; however, each close-net position carries its own responsibility.

The front row player positions are: 

  • Outside Hitter
  • Opposite Hitter
  • Setter

The back row player positions are:

  • Middle Blocker/Hitter
  • Libero
  • Defensive Specialist

The back row players are often defensive strategy players. The libero is a very important position that was just introduced to volleyball in recent years. Learn more about the significance of this volleyball position in our blog: Why the Libero is the Most Underrated Player on the Volleyball Court

Offensive Hits

With only three touches per side, it’s important to use each touch to maximum effect. There are four basic hits that are used. Normally, these hits occur in a specific order to set up the best possible offensive shot. 

Ending your three touches with a spike gives you the highest chance of scoring a point due to the quickness and power behind the spike shot. Let’s break down each of the offensive hits. 


Serving, mainly consisting of overhand hits at the ball, must be played from the back line of the volleyball court. The player in the back right position of the court will be the server, and will continue to serve until the point is lost. To serve the ball successfully, it must cross over the top of the net without any assistance from your teammates. Serving is required for the start of a rally. 


Bumping a volleyball is the hit that most people are familiar with. This hit is formed when both hands are clasped together, ‘bumping’ the ball with your forearms. Bumping helps to slow down the play, passing the ball to the setter to initiate a spike progression. It is important to make contact with both arms on a bump; if you only make contact with one arm, the ball could bounce off in the wrong direction.


Setting is extremely important in volleyball, as it sets up a spike for another player. After a player bumps the ball, sending it softly into the air, the setter moves to get under it. Setting the ball correctly requires your body to be square, facing your intended target. This offensive play is performed by holding both of your hands above your head and using all of your fingers to push the volleyball upwards toward another player on your team. Setting is typically a gentle process that requires a lot of control. 


Spiking is one of the most thrilling and fast-paced plays in volleyball. The setter’s job is to place the volleyball in an optimal position for a teammate to jump up close to the set, swinging his or her hand into the ball, forcing it down. This act can be difficult if the set is less than perfect or if the jump is timed poorly. The swinging action of the arm takes place in the air, getting as much power behind the hit as possible. 

Build Your Volleyball Skills at Rocky Mount Event Center

Looking for a place to play your next volleyball tournament? Rocky Mount Event Center can help with that! Our indoor sports facility has 75,000 square feet of playing space, allowing up to 16 volleyball courts to be played at the same time. Our championship arena setup can hold over 4,000 spectators, making it the perfect venue for any event size. Rocky Mount Event Center loves hosting both large-scale and small-scale tournaments for any level of play. 

You can book your next tournament today! For more information about Rocky Mount Event Center’s facilities, contact our friendly customer service team.