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2012-13 Volleyball Rule Changes


4-2-2 new NOTE:  Beginning July 1, 2016 either the libero or his/her teammates shall wear a solid colored uniform top that is clearly in contrast from the predominant color(s) of the teammates’ uniform top.  The solid color uniform top shall meet specific design requirements.

Rationale:  When both the libero and his/her teammates are in multi-colored uniforms of the same color combinations, it can be very difficult to discern the libero’s legality when playing the ball.  Requiring either the libero or the other team members to be in a solid colored uniform of contrasting color will assist the referees in determining legal playing actions. 


5-2-2:  The referee’s equipment shall include a watch along with a whistle, coin and yellow/red cards.  

Rationale:  The watch is needed as an alternate to a visual timing device in the event of a malfunction. 


5-3-4d, 5-4-3b(22):The coin toss for a deciding set shall be conducted by the second referee in front of the officials’ table. 

Rationale:  The coin toss being conducted by the second referee at the officials’ table will be more efficient and enhance the flow of the match. 


10-3 PEN 1:    Illegal alignment is now charged when an illegal substitute is identified in the set after the whistle/signal for serve. 

Rationale:  The penalty for an illegal libero identified in the set should be the same as an illegal substitute, loss of rally/point.  This change provides consistency in penalties for illegal players in a set.   


11-2-3 new NOTE:   State associations have the authority to determine the number of electronic media timeouts that may be taken and when they may be taken during the match.
Rationale:  With the increase in the number of matches being broadcast in some electronic format, it is appropriate to establish a procedure for electronic media time-outs. 


2012-13 Volleyball Major Editorial Changes


4-2-7:          Clarifies the application of restrictions on visible undergarments worn with the uniform top (t-shirts, body suits and other similar garments). 

5-4-3b(2):   Completes the listing of responsibilities for the second referee when repeating the first referee’s signals. 

9-7:            Terminology is updated throughout rules to change “foul” to “fault.” 

9-8-7i:       Clarifies play when ceiling suspended net system uses poles to retract net.  


Signals Using Flags:  Recommends the color and appropriate range of size for line judge flags. 


2012-13 Volleyball Editorial Changes

 5-1-3, 5-4-3b(16), 7-1-4 Penalty 1, 11-1-2 


2012-13 Volleyball Points of Emphasis


1.               Placement of net antennas when vertical tape marker is used 

2.               Host school responsible for providing and training assistant officials 

3.               Players to take positions on the court without delay 

4.               Only one manufacturers logo per uniform piece 

5.               Importance of line judges 

6.               Substitutes and libero entry to the playing court 





Review of 2011-12 Volleyball Rule Changes


1-3 new 3  

Outlines the procedure for scoring when a vacant position rotates to serve in the right back position due to the team playing with fewer than six players as a result of illness, injury or disqualification. 

Rationale:  Provides clarification of proper scoring protocol when a team plays with fewer than 6 players due to injury, illness, or disqualification, after the start of the match.   

2-1 new 9 and 10  

Adds the definitions for playable and nonplayable areas and stipulates the first referee has the authority to identify other area(s) as unsuitable for play. 

Rationale:  The rules currently refer to playable and nonplayable areas.  For clarification, these areas are now defined.  The first referee has the authority to identify other unsuitable area(s) for play.  


The overall width and length of the net may now fall within a range with the width of the net overall being 36 inches to 39 inches and the length being 31 feet, 6 inches to 33 feet. 

Rationale: The inclusion of a range makes legal the various equipment being utilized by high school teams should matches be conducted in college facilities.  The change does not require new equipment and eliminates need for manufacturers to make different nets which many schools are not correctly purchasing. 


The plain white tape along the top of the net shall be 2 inches up to 2¾ inches wide.  A white net sleeve, no wider than 3 3/8 inches, with the school name, insignia, school mascot and/or advertising may be installed along the top of the net. 

Rationale:  The inclusion of the range makes legal the various equipment being utilized by high schools should matches be conducted in college facilities.  The use of a manufactured sleeve allows the school to place their name, mascot, insignia and/or advertising on the net without expense of a custom net to promote school spirit and opportunity as a source for additional revenue. 


Expands the style of items that may be worn in the hair to include unadorned flat barrettes no longer than 2 inches. 

Rationale:  Flat, unadorned barrettes, no longer than two inches, do not create a concern for risk of injury and can be securely fastened and serve as efficient means to control a player’s hair. 


Once the match competition is concluded, the match officials continue to maintain administrative responsibilities through the completion of any required reports or correspondence related to action occurring during the match.  If necessary, the state association may intercede due to unusual incidents after officials’ jurisdiction ends or the match is terminated prior to conclusion of regulation competition. 

Rationale:  Administrative duties for match officials may need to continue after the match to document actions which occur during the competition. This revision illustrates the difference between the match officials’ jurisdiction during the contest and other administrative responsibilities such as submitting specific reports after the match. In addition, clarifies that State Associations may continue to develop and implement policies that allow for review of unusual incidents that occur while the match officials have jurisdiction or after the match. 

5-2-1 new NOTE 2 

The individual state association may make a temporary adjustment in the official’s uniform and permit the wearing of a white shirt or sweater to address cold conditions within competition facilities. 

Rationale:  Many times officials will be required to work in gymnasiums in which the temperature is quite cool.  Rather than each official wearing different visible undergarments or different style shirts, the state association may develop a policy to permit a standard style long-sleeved shirt or sweater and still maintain the integrity of the officials’ uniform. 

Volleyball Signals #1, Case Book 

The illegal alignment signal shall be used for a libero replacement after the whistle/signal for serve.  It is also used to communicate a penalty being assessed for failure to submit an accurate lineup. 

Rationale:  Clarifies “Illegal Alignment” is the penalty for a libero replacement that takes place after the whistle/signal for serve regardless of whether or not the ball is contacted for serve.  The additional use of the signal is to indicate a penalty is being assessed for failure to submit an accurate lineup and will improve communication between officials and spectators when this violation occurs. 


4-1 New Note  

Clarifies the authority and criteria for the state association to authorize exceptions to the playing rules to provide a reasonable accommodation to individual participants. 


Reference to a “let “ serve is removed from the rules and replaced with language indicating a serve contacting and crossing the net entirely within the antennas remains in play. 

9-5-5 Note  

An illegal back-row attack is called when the ball completely crosses the net or is contacted by the opponent. 





1.    Referee stand 

2.    Libero uniform 

3.    Host school providing assistant officials 

4.    Suspended net systems 




Review of 2010-11 Volleyball Rule Changes

1-3-1    When a team commits a fault, the results is a loss of rally and the opponent shall receive a point.

Rationale:  Clarifies when a point is scored and when a rally has been completed.

2-1 New 8    The libero replacement zone is the area near the sideline between the attack line and the end line.

Rationale:  Defines a specific zone for replacements similar to the substitution zone.

2-new 5, 9-8-1f    Defines non-team members as officials, media personnel, spectators located in a playable area.

Rationale:  This definition clearly identifies non-team members and delineates the difference between a non-team member and a team member.  This delineation is helpful when determining when such actions such as a replay should occur or various penalties are assessed.

4-1-1, 2, 3, &4    Updates and clarifies the rules regarding braces, casts, padding and prostheses.

Rationale:  Clarification of rules regarding braces, casts, etc. from NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

4-1-6     Expands the style of items that may be worn in the hair to include unadorned flat clips no longer than 2 inches.

Rationale:  Flat clips will not create a risk of injury and will provide another viable method to use as a hair control device.

4-1-New 8    Places a long standing informal procedure within the rules for the state association and school to follow when an accommodation/modification of the rules for participation is made due to medical, special needs or religious reasons.

Rationale:  Includes a procedure to follow when an accommodation/modification of the rules for participation is made due to medical, special needs or religious reasons.

5-3-4e    Changes the end-of-set protocol for the last set in a match to require the first referee, after confirming the score with the second referee, to simply release the teams from the end lines and thus permit each state association to establish its own end of match protocol, such as a team handshake.

Rationale:  These changes in court protocol will assist in a more logical end of set, will eliminate court congestion and permit individual states to establish a handshake procedure if desired.

6-New 1, 9-1-1    Defines team members as school representatives located in the team bench area including coaches, teammates, managers, trainers and the players.

Rationale:  Defines team membership which previously had not been included within the rules.  This is helpful since there are penalties and actions related to players and non-players.

6-New 2    Defines teammates as all players on the same team in uniform and further define players as those teammates on the playing court.

Rationale:  Defines team membership and players which previously had not been included in the rules.  This is helpful since there are penalties and actions related to players, team members and non-players.

10-1-4, 7-1-2    Once the lineup has been submitted by the required deadline and prior to play commencing, the coach may request and be granted a substitution.

Rationale:  Rather than begin the set with a penalty of a loss of rally/point and confusion for the players and officials, allowing the head coach to substitute prior to the start of the set may alleviate the problem.  Lineups shall not be rearranged.  Only substitutions would be allowed. 

12-2-8d    It is unsporting conduct to disrespectfully address a referee and now assistant officials (line judges, scorer, libero tracker and timer) are included.

Rationale:  It should be stated in the rules that any team member who disrespectfully addresses the referees, as well as the assistant officials (line judges, scorer, timer and libero tracker), shall be considered unsporting conduct.  Current language limits such comments to be unsporting only if addressing the referees.

Official Signal #6    Net Foul/Net Serve:  The second referee is not required to touch the net or signal a net serve. 

Rationale:  It is obvious a ball is a net serve and is not necessary for the R2 to mirror the signal of the R1.  This is an unnecessary signal for the R2.

 Major Editorial Changes

1-7-2, 3-2-1, 4-1-5, 5-3-3c(17), 5-3-3c(18), 5-3-3c(21), 9-9-1h, 10-2-5a, 10-2-7a(1), 10-2-7c, 10-3-5, 10-4-2 new d, 10-4-3, 11-2-3, 11-2 PEN 1, 11-2 PEN 2, 12-2-6, 12-2-6 new NOTE, Procedure for Unsporting Conduct Violations #10, Line Judge Signals (using flags), NFHS Official Volleyball Signals # 6 & #8, How to Use the Signals #23, Scorer and Libero Tracker Duties, Case Book – Pre-match Responsibilities #5

 Points of Emphasis

1.      Conduct of head coach while standing

2.      Libero review

3.      Timer’s responsibilities for all time-outs

4.      Informal officials signals

5.      Court management

6.      Second referee responsibilities

7.      Line judges responsibilities and training

8.      Judging height of the ball on completed attack by libero


Press Release

Volleyball Substitution Change Allows for Requests Prior to Play



Contact: Becky Oakes

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 26, 2010) — One of several new rules changes by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Volleyball Rules Committee permits a coach to request a substitution after submitting his or her lineup for a set but prior to play commencing. The changes, which were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors, will take effect with the 2010-11 season.

Rather than beginning the set with a penalty of a loss of rally and a point for the opponents, the changes to Rules 10-1-4 and 7-1-2 will allow the head coach to make a substitution after the lineup is submitted, which may alleviate confusion by players and officials to start the set.

“The new rule change will allow the coach to have submitted his or her lineup at the beginning of the set and will allow substitution requests to be made before play commences,” said Becky Oakes, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Volleyball Rules Committee. “However, no change to the lineup may be made except through substitution or the existing protocol for an injured or ill player.”

In a similar effort to eliminate confusion, Rule 5-3-4e was amended to change the end-of-set procedure in the last set of the match to reduce court congestion. Currently, after the first referee confirms the score and signals end of set, the players are directed to their respective benches.

The new rule change simply requires the first referee signal to release the players from their respective end line after the score is confirmed. The rule change allows individual state associations to establish a handshake procedure if desired and will reduce congestion on the court at the end of the match.

Another distinction made by the committee was the re-defining of players, team members and non-team members.

The changes to Rules 2-5, 6-1 and 6-2 define team members as all school representatives located on the team bench area, including but not limited to coaches, teammates, managers, trainers and the players. All players on the same team in uniform are teammates, and players are now defined as those teammates who are on the court. Non-team members include, but are not limited to, officials, media personnel and spectators.

These changes were made to more clearly define all individuals present at the game, as certain actions and penalties are related to players, team members and non-team members.

After last year’s addition of bobby pins as a means of hair control, the committee has updated Rule 4-1-5 to include unadorned flat clips that are no longer than two inches in length.

“It’s just another method of hair control,” Oakes said. “These items may actually be more secure than bobby pins and do not pose a risk of injury.”

Changes made to Rules 4-1-1, 2, 3 and 4 outline the guidelines for guards, casts and braces allowed during play. Additionally, the use of prostheses must be authorized by the individual state associations. They must be determined to not be any more dangerous to players than the corresponding human body part or parts and do not put the opponent at a disadvantage.

“The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee provided the committee with information that was more current,” Oakes said. “The revised rules update the language and provide consistency among sports, where appropriate, regarding casts, braces, supports and prostheses.”

Following are other changes made by the NFHS Volleyball Rules Committee:

·         In a change to Rule 1-3-1, scoring a point was redefined. When a team commits a fault, the result is a loss of rally and the opponent shall receive a point.

·         New Rule 2-1-8 defines the libero replacement zone as the area near the sideline between the attack line and the end line.

·         Any modification to a player’s uniform, equipment or accessories due to medical or religious reasons now requires a letter of authorization from the state association. The letter must be made available to the referees at or prior to the pre-match conference.

·         Rule 12-2-8d, which states one may not disrespectfully address a referee, was modified to include any match officials such as line judges, scorer, timer, libero tracker or any other similar official.

·         Regarding officials signals, Note 6 improves game efficiency by requiring that only the first referee is required to signal net foul or net serve.

“This year, the rule changes the committee made were aimed at administrative details that enhanced the flow of the contest,” Oakes said. “The revised definitions provide more clarity that assist in application of the rules.”

A complete listing of all rules changes approved by the committee is available on the NFHS Web site at Click on “Athletics & Fine Arts Activities” on the home page, and select “Volleyball.”

Volleyball is the third-most popular sport for girls at the high school level, according to the 2008-09 NFHS Athletics Participation Survey, with 404,243 participants nationwide. The sport ranks fourth in school sponsorship with 15,069 schools sponsoring the sport. In addition, 49,346 boys participate in volleyball at 2,192 schools.

 This press release was written by Emily Newell, a spring intern in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department and a sophomore at Butler (Indiana) University.


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