Net Touches – Please Read

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In 2008 the FIVB Congress changed the rules for what constitutes a net fault.  I repeat.  In 2008!!!  It is now 2012 and many people still don’t know or understand the rules or maybe just choose to ignore them.

I refer to players and coaches who continually appeal or create a scene for actions that aren’t faults.  It is bad for the game, bad for spectators and bad for the teams that do it.  We played this season against one team in particular who went wildly overreacted to bad calls, and wildly reacted to calls that weren’t faults.  Needless to say their coach led the league in yellow cards and negative press statements about referees.

I refer to referees who call faults that aren’t faults.  It is mind bendingly simple to police the net now.  This problem is particularly ironic as the object of the rule change was partly to create less stoppages and to make it easier for referees.  It is easier, although you wouldn’t know from watching the games.

I refer to commentators.  I can (very) grudgingly accept that commentators don’t know how to pronounce names, don’t know any back stories or history of the participants and don’t know what teams are doing tactically.  I find it much harder to accept that commentators don’t know the rules or the names of the skills.

For all of those groups, please watch the following video.  It really is very clear.


  1. Sadly there are still those wedded to the old rule be wise the new rule “leads to messy play” or players are less skillful now!

    Not too sure how the rule change can be responsible for the overall reduction in skill. To block or attack successfully you still need to execute a skill without contacting the top of the net. Do this bit right the rest should not impact on the play at hand!

    For referees it requires greater concentration, as only limited numbers of net contacts are illegal and you must be watching. losely to get this right!

    The second referee now has as many duties but the role is very different, you will not interrupt the match as regularly as in the past!


    1. I’m not completely convinced that it should be more difficult for the second ref now, but to support your point in the Champions League semi final on Saturday Hobor (I guess the most experienced / best international referee) called a net touch on the bottom of the net and immediately withdrew the call.


    2. I have my reservations, (to put it mildly) but what is the general consensus? You guys who are out there on the sidelines. Is it a better game with the new rules?


      1. Through the various rule changes over the years, volleyball has improved enormously as a spectacle. Less interventions by officials and longer rallies that flow better are in the best interests of everyone who loves volleyball and, importantly, everyone whose livelihood depends on it.
        I have no problem with the rule per se for the reasons above. It seems to me that the functioning of this rule negatively affects the spectacle of volleyball. In my opinion that is due to lack of education on the part of players, irregular enforcement by officials, lack of effort to educate spectators and resistance of many participants to any new rule change. All of these factors are relatively easily solved, except for the last one.
        The resistance of people to rule changes is really strong. I have coached players who were literally not born when the ball handling rules were liberalised, and yet continually appeal for double hits on the first contact, and create a scene when they don’t get the call. The same people have never played a single game of volleyball without a let serve being allowed and yet never prepare for it, and put it down to ‘bad luck’. This can only be because of people in the ‘background’ who keep those old concepts alive. In my opinion those people are doing a disservice to their players and to the sport. The sport is better now than ever and even it isn’t those rule changes are decades old.


      2. I remember hearing a story of a national team coach who, 6 years after the scoring changed to rally-point, still got one of his assistants to keep track of the ‘real score’ for him.


      3. Some coaches are more resistant than others. But that is pretty dumb for a variety of reasons. Not the least being the total number of ‘real’ points doesn’t count, only the difference. And the difference in ‘real’ points is the same as the difference in the score.


  2. My understanding is that for Australian Volleyball Schools Cup this year they will revert to the old rule (ie: just don’t touch the net). This is in response to last year’s event where, from my observation, there were many situations where players held onto the net in order to stop going under (at times, with most of their body on the other side of the plane of the net).

    After a long discussion with a tournament referee it seemed that this behaviour was not actually illegal. However, if someone did this in order to play the ball then that would be illegal, not because of the net touch, but because of the use of equipment to aid in playing the ball.


  3. The other one that causes problems is the new centreline rule.
    The biggest problem is education. Players don’t know or understand or want to understand the rule and so cause a scene. Spectators don’t know the new rule or never knew the old and take their lead from the players. It creates unnecessary stress for everyone and makes the spectacle less interesting. Not because of the rule change itself, but because of the reactions of participants.


    1. The centre line rule to me is a very dangerous one. In minor leagues literally everybody thinks that they are allowed to step over that centre line in every situation. I have never seen so many injuries in minor leagues before. The reason for this is not the rule itself but that players and referees simply refuse to understand the rule. I prefer the old days when net and centre line simply separated the two teams from each other. Today setters in those leagues place the balls extremely close to the net, because “the attacker is allowed to enter the opponents court”. I have no clue why coaches allow or even support this, but here it is a matter of fact.


      1. I don’t understand. You are never, under any circumstances allowed to step over the centre line. Other parts of your body are allowed to go over the line, but feet, never.


      2. I am coaching juniors at the moment, and am having a tough time teaching them not to jump forwards into the net as they block, and not to jump to forward into the net as they spike. Together it’s a dangerous combination. Unfortunately what they are doing is usually perfectly legal.

        I can understand why the FIVB changed the rules (I.e. to make the game flow, make it better for spectators, better for TV and to make more money) but I think this rule is a dangerous one that will be a catalyst for many injuries.

        It’s all very well to say that referees will call a foul when a player interferes with an opponent. The problem is that with this rule, the interference is much more likely to cause an injury than a net touch with the the old rule in place.

        Ordinary players will get sloppy because they can get away with it. The better players will rise above it, if they don’t get injured on the way by the hacks jumping through the net.

        At the higher levels it will be fine, but I think this rule is bad for everything from about 3rd division down. (Which is 95% of volleyball)


  4. Having been at National Schools Cup last year I must confess to welcoming the news of reverting to the old net rule. Maybe I am a cranky old conservative? Or maybe I would like to see a return to rules that do not allow players to be out of balance, out of control and out of position during net play. The amount of incidents I saw where spikers and setters were able to jump towards the net in pursuit of a tight ball and then bail out by ballooning their body into the meat of the net, (and/or crossing the centre line) was both ugly and scary. At senior levels, maybe, but at the junior level players need a system that encourages fair play and good techniques. Keen to hear your comments.


    1. Similar to Oliver’s comment, I don’t understand the part about going under the centre line. Your feet are not allowed on the other side. They never have been, they are not now.
      Without having seen it, it seems to me an overreaction to ‘revert’ to old rules. You can easily decide that hanging in the net should be interpreted as ‘gaining an advantage’ and simply call those balls. It is gaining an advantage. It’s not even a stretch.
      Having said that, I have no problem with junior competitions having different rules in order to aid development. I would be for only receiving serves underarm, reducing substitutions so that juniors had to learn all parts of the game, mandating players of certain height, etc etc.
      The thing with the net rule doesn’t seem to be anything to do with the rule itself. Maybe it’s just the law of unintended consequences.


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