After the, shall we say, debacle of the last lot of attempted rule changes (ie they changed the ball handling rule and then rescinded the change before it took effect), it appears there are more suggestions on the table, some of which I’ve heard about it, some not, and a few of which are ridiculous.
The linked report suggests the following proposals.
- Require servers to land behind the end line
- Back row attackers must land behind the 3-meter line
- Eliminate open-hand tip
- Eliminate overhead serve receive serve
- Penalties for a missed serve
- Free substitution – any player can sub for any player at any time
- Any contact with the center line is a violation
- Any net touch by an athlete is a violation
- Decrease the number of points per set
Before I make any comments, I would like to state categorically that I love volleyball. I think volleyball as it is played now is more interesting, more dynamic, more exciting and is a better spectacle than it has ever been before. It is just better in every way. I suggest anyone who thinks otherwise take a tour through www.volleyball-movies.net, there are plenty of old matches linked there now. The reason volleyball is better, is the combination of rules, techniques and tactics. I think that many of the alleged ‘problems’ with volleyball, no longer exist, or at least exist to a much lesser degree than is often supposed. For example, the old bugbear of the length of rallies (ie the balance of offence and defence) doesn’t really hold anymore. Offences are getting close to their limits and defence is catching up fast. The recent World League finals showed that clearly. Plus, and this is the point everybody overlooks, rallies are interesting because they are ‘rare’. What makes the game interesting is the balance between shorter and longer rallies. I would contend that balance is pretty good right now, and I think the technical and tactical evolution of the game are pushing volleyball clearly into an era of longer rallies. But if we have to talk about rule changes, let’s…
Landing behind the line – This idea has been around for as long as the jump serve and backrow attack have existed. I think this would be a nightmare to adjudicate. The referees would have to stop watching the ball and net in order to keep their eyes on the feet of the players after they have played the ball. They would then call faults that occurred away from the area that every single spectator (and the TV cameras) is watching. I dare say this would lead to quite some confusion, not too mention innumerable missed net and touched called. I can’t think of anything that will affect the flow of the game more. Please stop talking about this.
Open Hand Tips – I am dumbfounded. The only possible reason I can think of for this one is to standardise the rules between indoor and beach volleyball. If you take out the tip and more importantly, the possibility of the tip** in women’s volleyball the 2012 Olympic final might still be being played.
Eliminate Overhead Service Reception – I don’t agree with this one. I don’t agree that allowing overhead reception makes the game ‘uglier’ or is less ‘skillful’ or is less ‘traditional’. For one thing, it affects such a tiny proportion of rallies (ie rallies with both overhead reception AND a possible ball handling violation). The problem, as I have said before, is that it makes the spectating and officiating of the game more complicated by having different rules for different phases of the game. I don’t like this, but I could live it.
Penalties for Missed Serves – The only reason to propose this is to deflect attention away from debating a rule change they are seriously contemplating. Because this is not serious.
Free Substitution – I understand this one. Substitutions negatively affect the flow of the game. However, to allow free substitution would fundamentally change the game in a way it has not been changed before. Fundamental to volleyball is that every player must ‘play’ every position. Even allowing for the specialisation that we have, this is the rule that makes volleyball the team game that it is. This would need to be debated very carefully.
Centreline Faults – To address the injury point, I would guess that at least 50% of ankle injuries that occur are as a result of landing on a player from your own team. So I think that part of the debate is misleading. I would also add that as a proportion of the number of jumps at the net, ankle injuries occur pretty close to 0% of the time. Think of the thousands of jumps, in training and games, between injuries. If the reason for changing this is injury prevention, I don’t think it is a valid reason.
Net Touches – I may be in the minority, but I find it impossible to get my head around the idea the current net fault rule is more difficult to officiate than before. Net faults can only occur at a small section of the net. If 2nd referee is watching only that part of the net, as they should, they can see net faults. Every time the net moves but you don’t see a net touch, don’t blow your whistle. Problem solved. Next.
Number Of Points Per Set – I refer back to my response about missed serves, and wonder why this one is the last on the list. Could it be because we have spent so much time debating the other that we are too tired to bother with this one, the one that is the only one actually being considered? European League tested sets to 21 this season, together with timed periods between serves. I have heard that this rule change is a certainty, with the reasoning that it makes the games slightly shorter to fit into TV time slots and that it standardises indoor and beach volleyball. But after 1000 words, I don’t have the energy to think about whether it is good or bad…
**The possibility of the tip dictates that defences must play a particular way. If there is no possibility of a tip, defenders can change their positions and be more effective at defending spikes.