September 17, 2008

Volleyball Rules Question from a Reader

A nice simple question about the rules:

My friends and I have played volleyball every Sunday for about 3 months, lately we are arguing over rules, and nobody really knows the rules so it makes for interesting argumentation. One of our arguments involve my underhand returns. Most people put their hands together to return the ball in an upward hit. I like to keep my hands apart and give a under pat with both hands. they call it holding and while I understand their feelings I really don't hold the ball I basically pat it up underhanded. They say that such a move is illegal I say as long as I hit it and don't hold it is legal. therefore we need a definitive answer to this quandary. Am I right in my assumption or should I start eating crow?????? Thank You for your forum BJ

BJ, you can put down the knife and fork because you will not be eating crow anytime soon!

Per the NCAA Volleyball 2008 Women's Rules and Interpretations (we will use the the women's rules since this is the book I have and I really am unaware of any rule differences between men and women in the playing of the ball), on page 71, 14.2 Characteristics of the Hit defines the rules of playing the volleyball. To summarize, the ball cannot come to rest, can be double hit on the first contact and can be contacted by any part of the body. If you visit the NCAA website and link to women's volleyball, you should be able to purchase the rule book.

While your technique may be nontraditional, it is not illegal.

The two hands together to recieve serve or play the ball is the evolution of the sport, not the original playing style. My father learned to play volleyball when serve receive and defense was done overhand - they set everything. If it was a low serve or spike, the defenders just squatted lower to play the ball - if it was near the ground, they just speared it with their arms.

As I understand it, the Japanese teams were the first to use the serve receive platform at the 1968 Olympics that is common today. My father can remember being taught this 'new and radical' technique, along with diving on defense, after playing for a number of years the old way.

The overhead serve receive is making a bit of a comeback and you see it most often in the Latin players. The Brazilians, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, etc. seem much more comfortable taking the serve with a setting motion than American players. On easy to medium difficulty serves, I believe a player does have more control with the setting serve than using the platform - Just more nerves and control potential in the fingers than the fore arms.

BJ, just tell your friends you are 'Old School' - the bottom line is that if you can pass well, then keep doing what you are doing. If you don't pass well, then maybe you should introduce your right hand to your left hand on serve receive.