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Volleyball game
Volleyball pictogram

Volleyball ( listen ? / I ) is an Olympic team sport from the group of return games . Two teams with six players each face each other on a playing field divided by a net. The aim of the game is to hit a ball over the net in such a way that the ball touches the floor of the opposing half of the field or the opposing team makes a mistake. A team may touch the ball three times in a row to return it. Any block does not count. The ball is played volley (hence the name of the sport) and can be touched with any part of the body, but in practice the hands or arms are used almost exclusively. Audio file / audio sample

Volleyball originated in the United States in the late 19th century . The sport is now practiced worldwide. The world association FIVB comprises 222 national associations and thus more members than FIFA or the United Nations . World championships and Olympic tournaments have been held since the middle of the 20th century . Other high-class competitions are the annually held Volleyball Nations League and the Volleyball World Cup . In addition, there are the continental tournaments (for example the European Championship ), the European Cup competitions for club teams as well as national championships and cup competitions.

In the early decades (mid-20th century), national and club teams from the Soviet Union , national teams from Czechoslovakia (men) and Japan (women) and club teams from Romania dominated competitions . At the end of the 20th century, the United States , Brazil, and Italy joined as leading nations. Poland is also successful for men and China and Cuba have won several titles for women .

Despite its worldwide distribution, volleyball is perceived differently in individual countries. While it is more of a marginal sport in German-speaking countries , the games in Poland are broadcast extensively in the media. There are several sports and variants that have evolved from volleyball. The best-known variant is also Olympic beach volleyball .


The volleyball rules are set by the world association FIVB . The current version of the set of rules was determined at the 35th FIVB Congress in 2016 and has been in force since 2017.


Dimensions of a volleyball court
Volleyball court seen from the baseline

The playing field is 18 m long and 9 m wide. It is divided into two halves by the center line and the net, so that each team plays on one half of the field the size of 9 by 9 m. There is another line three meters from the network that delimits the attack zone. Left and right there are the side lines and at the back end the baseline. All lines of a volleyball field are each 5 cm wide and belong to the playing field.

The net hangs over the center line. The upper edge is 2.43 m above the ground for men, 2.24 m for women and 2.35 m above the ground in mixed . The net must be taut. It is itself one meter high and 9.5 to 10 meters wide, so that it protrudes 25 to 50 cm on each side over the side lines of the field. The square meshes of the net have a side length of 10 cm, its edges are bordered with ribbons. At the ends it is attached to posts that are 0.5 to 1 m outside the field. Antennas are attached to both sides of the net above the sidelines. These 80 cm high, flexible sticks limit the area within which the ball must be played over the net.

The playing field is surrounded on all sides by a free zone at least three meters wide, in which the ball can also be played. Above the playing field and the free zone there must be at least seven meters (at least 12.5 meters for international competitions) free of obstacles. Behind the entire length of the baseline is the service zone where the service is performed.

The referees stand at both ends of the net. Behind the second arbitrator is the scribes' table (more information on these people in the section “Arbitration” ). Next to the clerk's desk are the benches on which the trainers and other team members sit. Substitute players can be in a 3 by 3 m area in the corners next to the benches.

In competitive play, the volleyball associations in the lower-class leagues have lower demands on the spatial dimensions due to the limited possibilities of many smaller clubs.


official volleyballs with FIVB logo

The volleyball is made of leather or plastic with an air-filled rubber bladder inside. With a circumference of 65 to 67 cm and a weight of 260 to 280 grams, it is smaller and lighter than a basketball or soccer ball . It is either light in one color or has a pattern of different colors. The internal pressure ( overpressure ) must be between 294.3 and 318.82 mbar .

The brand of the match balls is determined by the national volleyball federations for their area of ​​responsibility. In the international area there are several approved game balls, which differ in small details in terms of color and material properties. The general principles of girth and weight are the same for all balls.


Player positions in volleyball

The squad of a volleyball team usually consists of twelve players, sometimes more. There is space for fourteen players per team on the score sheet. Six players are on the field at a time. The six players on the starting line-up are also known as the Starting Six. The players on a team wear the same jerseys. An exception is the Libero, for which some special rules apply (see below). One player (with the exception of the Libero) is appointed captain of the team. He not only guides his teammates, but is also responsible for communication with the arbitration board and formalities such as signing the match report. In addition to looking after his team, the coach is also responsible for line-up, substitutions and time-outs. He is often supported in his work by an assistant trainer. Other officials who can sit on the bench during the game are the team doctor and the physiotherapist.


The team's starting line-up determines the rotation sequence of the players on the field (see graphic), which applies for the duration of the respective set. The positions are numbered from 1 to 6 counterclockwise from the back right. The players in positions 2, 3 and 4 stand in the front zone, the others in the back zone. If a team receives the right to serve, its players rotate one position clockwise. As a result, for example, the player who was previously in position 2 on the net now moves to position 1 and thus becomes the server for his team. The team retains these positions until they regain the lost service right. At the beginning of a rally, the players in the front zone must always have their feet closer to the net than their respective counterparts in the back field and players standing next to each other must also be arranged in the correct order. Once the ball is in play, they can move freely on the field and arrange themselves according to the tactical orientation.


After the ball has been brought into play with the service, up to three ball contacts are allowed for each team before the ball has to cross the net. In a typical rally, the three ball contacts are used for three parts of a play. The first contact is the assumption with which the ball is controlled on the defensive. Through the pass (second contact) the ball comes close to the net. The third contact is usually the attack hit via the network. The other team can now try to repel the attack by placing a block directly on the net. If the ball then reaches half of the defending team, play continues. The block contact is not included in the three ball contacts that are allowed per play. If no block is used or no direct block point succeeds, the team builds a new attack with their three ball contacts.


A team scores a point if it hits the ball on the floor of the opposing half of the field or if the opponent makes a mistake. The following errors are possible:

  • Ball out : The ball falls to the ground without hitting the opposing field. The line belongs to the field.
  • Four contacts : a team touches the ball more than three times in a row. Touching the block is not counted. This also applies to multiple block contact by one or more players. The next contact after a block may also be made by a player who touched the ball immediately before during the block action. Except when serving, the ball may be touched with the entire body.
  • Double touch: a player touches the ball twice in a row, or two players from the same team touch it at the same time. Exceptions: After the block, the same player may make the first contact with the ball and when taking it, the ball may touch several parts of the body of the accepting player at the same time or in immediate succession. In practice, double touching is usually determined by the rotation of the ball.
  • Ball passed : a player holds or throws the ball instead of hitting it.
  • Net touch : A player touches the net. Between 2009 and 2015 there was a more liberal interpretation of this rule, according to which touching the net was only considered a mistake if it affected the game.
  • Error when serving : The ball does not cross the net in its full diameter between the antennas or their imaginary extension to the ceiling of the hall. If an impacted ball touches the edge of the net when crossing the net, this is not considered a fault according to the current regulations. In addition, the serving player must not take more than eight seconds for this action and must serve before touching the field of play. The opponent may not block the service or return the ball directly while in the front zone and completely over the top of the net.
  • Overreach : A player is reaching across the net. Exceptions: If the ball is still in contact with the ball in one's own playing area when attacking; when blocking, if the opponent's build-up of the game is not hindered.
  • Stepping over : A player steps below the net over the center line. The player touches the playing field with his foot, the sole of the foot is completely in the opponent's play area. The opponent does not have to be obstructed.
  • Penetration into the opponent's play area : The player penetrates into the opponent’s play area and thereby hinders the opponent.
  • Contact with bystanders or objects : The ball hits a player, coach, spectator, or an object outside the field of play who is not in play. This also includes the network system outside the antennas, the antennas themselves and the hall ceiling.
  • Use of aids when striking : A player may not be assisted by a teammate when striking (e.g. take it on the shoulders) or use any other aids (e.g. jumping off the bench).
  • Faults by back players: players in the back positions block in the attack zone. If the Libero plays the ball from the front zone in the upper pass, no player is allowed to make an attack hit above the net. Back players may only play attack hits from above the edge of the net if they are standing in the back zone, or jump up from the back zone. Liberos are not allowed to play any attack hits from above the edge of the net. Just trying to block or attack is not a mistake.
  • Position error : A team must be lined up according to the rotation sequence at the beginning of each service (see above). Whether a team is set up correctly depends solely on the position of their players in relation to one another. In addition, players are not permitted to leave the field of play beyond the sidelines before serving.
  • Sight block : If one or more players stand (or move) in such a way that the opponent cannot see the player serving and the trajectory of the ball, this is a prohibited sight block. So if players do not see the person serving, it is not allowed to serve over this player.

Video evidence (challenge)

Network camera and tablet of the first referee

In some international competitions of the FIVB and CEV as well as in the final of the DVV-Pokal , video evidence has been used since 2013 , which is also known as a "challenge". If a team questions a decision by the referee, they can have it reviewed. A challenge is possible when the ball is in or out of the field as well as in the event of block contact, network errors, antenna contact and crossings. It must be displayed immediately after the respective error occurs. Each team has the opportunity to request video evidence at least twice per set. If she rightly appealed, she gets another chance.

Counting method

Scoreboard for a volleyball game in the Gerry Weber Stadium (more detailed explanation on the picture description page)

In volleyball, the team that wins a move scores one point (“rally point system”). If the serving team makes a mistake, the other team receives both a point and the right to serve. Their players change positions according to the rotation sequence. The server is then the player who is in position 1 after the rotation.

A set is won when a team scores 25 points and is at least two points ahead. If a team does not have such a lead when reaching 25 points, the set is extended until a team has achieved a two-point lead (i.e. at least up to 26:24).

To win a game, a team has to win three sets (“ Best of five ”). There is a page break after each sentence. There is a three-minute break between the sets (after the second set there may also be a ten-minute break). The fifth set is called the tie-break and ends when a team reaches 15 points (with at least two points ahead). As soon as a team has reached eight points, the teams switch sides.

Before the first and again before a possible fifth set, the referee tosses a coin. The captain who wins the toss may choose to serve or to either side of the field of play, while the other captain makes the other decision.

In the European Cup competitions there is an additional decision set, the "Golden Set", which ensures a decision when every team has scored a victory after the return leg.

The rally point system was introduced in 1999 to better control the duration of a game, making the game more enjoyable for viewers and more beneficial for television broadcasters. Previously, only the serving team could score a point. Before the rule changes, the count of up to 15 points generally applied to all sets, with the first four rounds being decided at the latest - regardless of the lead - when one of the two teams had reached 17 points. The fifth set was played up to 15 points, with the set only ending at two points.

Time outs and substitutions

Time out of the German women's national team at the EM 2013

If the leading team reaches eighth or sixteenth point, the rules provide for a technical time-out of one minute in the first four sets. In addition, both coaches can request two time outs per set from the second referee, each lasting 30 seconds. There are usually no technical time outs in the lower divisions.

With the tactical time-outs, the coach can influence the game. There are many possible reasons for such an interruption. The coach can take time out to calm his team down during a bad phase. He can try to give the team new instructions, although the receptivity is limited in the short time. In addition, a time-out can serve to interrupt the flow of the game for the opponent. For example, if an opposing player has hit several serves well in a row, the interruption may disturb his concentration.

Six substitutions are allowed per set and per team. The substitute usually holds a board with the number of the player to be substituted. Multiple changes are also possible, in which several players are exchanged at the same time. As soon as a player has been substituted for another player, he can only be substituted for that player (change back). After that, the quota of changes in this set is exhausted for these two players, with the result that the starting player has to play the set to the end and the substitute player has to sit on the bench until the next set. After being substituted, he may not be used for another starting player. Regardless of these rules, the Libero can be exchanged and exchanged as often as desired in the three backcourt positions. There is an exception to these provisions in the event that a player who is in play is injured and cannot continue playing.


First referee shows red card

In the case of “simple” rule violations (improper behavior), an oral warning is given first. In the event of further misconduct, the team of the player who violated the rules will be formally warned with a yellow card. The referee indicates a penalty with a red card. In this case the opponent receives an additional point and the right to serve. A yellow-red card means that the player concerned is suspended (cards in one hand) or disqualified (cards in two hands). The suspension applies to the current set, the disqualification for the entire game. In both cases, the player must be replaced immediately by a regular substitution. If the substitution is not possible, the team is declared incomplete and the opposing team wins the set.

Until a rule change in 2013, the meanings of the cards and referee signs were defined differently. At that time, a yellow card was considered a sanction with a point for the opponent, the red card caused a player to be suspended and the yellow-red card, which was shown together in one hand, caused disqualification.

Points and tables

In tables of national and international tournaments the number of wins, the resulting points, the sets played and the ball points are taken into account. Ball points are the points played within a set. For example, a team that wins a game 25:20, 25:22, 25:23 has a score of 75:65. The quotient of these numbers (75:65 = 1.154) is called the ball point quotient (BPQ).

The three-point rule applies in international competitions, in the leagues of the leading volleyball nations and (since the 2013/14 season) in all German leagues . A team that wins 3-0 or 3-1 receives three points, while the loser receives nothing. In a game that ends after a 3-2 decisive set, there are two points for the winner and one for the loser.

Arbitration board

First referee Second referee
First referee
Second referee

The arbitration board consists of the first and second referee, two or four linesmen and the scribe; there can also be an assistant to the clerk. The composition of the arbitral tribunal and its division of tasks is different depending on the league level and the type of competition. While international games are played with two referees and four linesmen, only two linesmen are used in the Bundesliga. In other competitions there are also games without a linesman or with only one referee. Junior and senior games often take place without or with unlicensed referees. The activities of the referees are monitored by match committees.

First referee

The first referee stands in a referee's chair at the end of the net. Its horizontal field of vision must be approximately 50 cm above the net. He directs the game and has decision-making authority over all members of the arbitration board and the teams. Its decision is final once the next serve has been approved or the rate has ended. He may overrule other members of the arbitral tribunal if it turns out that they were wrong. But he has to pay attention to the observations of his assistants. When asked by the team captain, he must explain his decision. He can sanction the behavior of all persons who are entered on the match sheet.

The first referee releases the service with a show of hands and a whistle. If he recognizes a mistake, he whistles immediately. After eye contact with his assistant and the linesmen, he shows the type of error and, if applicable, the player concerned with hand signals. The first referee can have the move repeated in the event of a double fault: Either both teams have committed a mistake at the same time, or the referee cannot determine which of the two faults occurred first. A play may be repeated for other reasons at the discretion of the court of arbitration.

Before the game, the first referee gives instructions to the other members of the arbitration board as well as to the scorer. He also checks the hall, the game material (balls, net, field lines, etc.) and the players' shirts. The home team is responsible for ensuring that spectators and other bystanders do not disrupt the game and that the field is ready in good time. If it fails, the referee can punish this team.

Second referee

The second referee stands at the opposite end of the net. He assists the first referee and communicates with him constantly. While the first referee (almost) exclusively observes the ball and the associated actions, the second referee mainly has an eye on the net and the center line. He pays attention to net contact, crossings, block actions, hindrance of the opponent, position errors and ball contacts. If the game does not take place there, he observes the game actions. He moves sideways and is usually on the side of the team that is defending. If the second referee detects a mistake within his area of ​​responsibility, he signals this with a whistle, but first indicates the type of mistake and, if necessary, to the player who made the mistake. If a mistake has been called, regardless of the referee, it remains on the side of the team that, in the opinion of the second referee, made the mistake. If the first referee whistled, but the second referee could not find a fault, he stops in the middle. In the case of errors that are outside his area of ​​responsibility, he may indicate this to the first referee by showing hands, but not interrupt the game. The second referee used to repeat the first referee's hand signal.

He also monitors the scorers, players not currently on the field, time outs and substitutions. He accepts requests for time-outs and substitutions from the coaches and rejects them if they are invalid. If they are admissible, he will alert the first referee with a whistle and the appropriate hand signal. The second referee has a more extensive range of duties than the first referee. Before the game, the second referee checks that the game sheet has been completed correctly, as well as the licenses and the identity of the players.

Referee hand signals

The two referees use hand signals defined in the official rules to indicate their decisions. They are listed in the following table according to their order in the set of rules. The first referee can show any of the hand signals, the second only some of them.

decision character SR *
Surcharge released Extend your arm to the side and then bend it in front of your upper body in the direction you serve 1
serving team Point to the side of the respective team with an extended arm 1, 2
Page change Swing your arms in front of and behind your body 1
Time out Form a T (for timeout) with both hands and then point to the requesting team 1, 2
Substitution Rotate forearms in front of the upper body 1, 2
Incorrect behavior The yellow card is shown as a warning and the red card as a punishment. 1
Suspension (for the sentence) The yellow and red cards are shown together in one hand. 1
Disqualification (for the game) The yellow and red cards are shown separately with both hands. 1
End of sentence or game Forearms crossed in front of the torso 1, 2
Ball not thrown up on service Raise your straight arm with your palm facing up 1
Delay in serving hold up eight fingers 1
Block failure or block of vision Extend your arms upwards with your palms facing forward 1, 2
Position or rotation errors Move the index finger horizontally in a circle 1
Ball in field Point your arm at the floor 1, 2
Ball out First stretch your arms forward and then bend your palms backwards 1, 2
Ball passed Bend your outstretched arm with the palm facing up 1
Double touch hold up two fingers of one hand 1
four ball contacts hold up four fingers of one hand 1
Net contact or impact into the net Touch the mesh with your hand on the side where the error occurred 1, 2
Encroaching Hold your arm over the net, palm facing down 1
Attack failure Bend your arm and move your forearm down 1
Crossing the center line, invalid service point to the corresponding line 1, 2
Double fault, repetition Fists with thumbs up 1
Ball touches before going out hold one hand upright, slide the other hand over your fingertips 1, 2
Game delay Touch your wrist with the yellow card (warning) or red card (punishment) 1

* The numbers indicate which referee is allowed to use this symbol.


Four linesmen stand at the corners of the playing field

The linesmen support the two referees. In a game with four linesmen, each of them is responsible for one of the four outer lines of the field of play, with two linesmen each of them pays attention to two lines. They are located on one corner of the playing field or (if there are two of them) on diagonally opposite corners. The linesmen give signals to the referees with a 40 by 40 cm flag. The following characters are defined in the rules:

decision character
Ball in field point the flag at the ground
Ball out Hold the flag vertically above your head
Ball touches Hold the flag vertically in front of the upper body with one hand and place the palm of the other hand over it
Ball crosses the net outside the antennae or touches an object outside the field of play. A player crosses the baseline when serving. Swing the flag over your head with one hand and point at the antenna or the corresponding line with the other hand
Decision not possible Cross your forearms in front of your upper body


Writing table with counting device

The clerk and his assistant sit at the clerk's desk behind the second referee. The clerk is initially responsible for completing the match report correctly. This includes lineups, points, time outs and penalties. An electronic match report (e-score) is used for international games, in the Bundesliga and increasingly also in lower leagues. The scorer interrupts the game immediately after the service if the wrong player has served (rotation error). It notifies the referees when a coach illegally requests a time-out or a substitution. The clerk assistant operates the scoring device to display the current score. He also notes the changes in the Libero.

Three copies of the match report are made, one for the two teams and one for the referee. The team captains, the scorer, the linesmen, the second referee and finally the first referee sign the document in the order given. Once a person has signed, no further entries or changes are permitted; any further comments or corrections must then be made in a separate report. If the captain wishes to protest about any matter, he must announce this to the first referee as soon as possible. If this does not happen, the protest is invalid. The referee must allow the captain to enter a protest without exception, even if the content of the protest is inadmissible.

Procedure before and after the game

Shakehands after the international match between Germany and Spain in the 2014 European Women's League

Fixed processes have developed around a game in volleyball. For some competitions, these processes are precisely prescribed. For example, there is a VBL game protocol for games in the German Bundesliga.

A typical process looks like this: Before kick-off, the players warm up on the field. Then we hit the net together. A few minutes before kick-off, the hall spokesman introduces the arbitral tribunal as well as the players and officials of both teams, who line up on both sides of the net. During the game, the audience can be entertained with music and other activities during the breaks and breaks. After the final whistle, the players walk in the opposite direction along the net and shake hands as a sign of fair play ; They also thank the referees. In the Bundesliga and other competitions, there is also a choice of the most valuable player (MVP) after each game.



A new rally begins with the serve (also called service). The serving player tries to play the ball over the net in such a way that the opposing team cannot properly return it. The service can be done standing or jumping. In the case of a jump service, the server must jump off behind the baseline, but may land in the field after contact with the ball.

The service can be played from below or above. When serving from below, the player throws the ball up only slightly and hits it with the flat of the hand or forearm. When serving from above, the player throws the ball up and hits it with the flat of his hand. When serving the jump, the ball is usually hit hard. A distinction is also made between a float serve or float serve, in which the ball flutters in flight, from a hard hit. If the service immediately leads to a point, it is called an ace.

Lower pass

The lower pass (also known as Bagger and Manchette in Switzerland) is mainly used for acceptance and defense, with acceptance when the opponent serves or attacks with little pressure and defense with a harder attack by the opponent. In exceptional cases, an attack is dredged during the pass. In extreme situations, a one-handed version of the excavator is also used to keep the ball in play.

With the lower pass, the ball is played from below with parallel, stretched forearms, the so-called game board. The playing surface lies on the inside of the forearms. Playing with both arms is not mandatory, but increases ball control due to the larger contact surface. Optimal ball control is achieved by stretching your elbows and not changing the angle of your arms to the ground. The angle between arms and torso should be about 90 °. The direction of the ball is given by the stretching of the legs and the alignment of the game board.

The pike excavator is a special form. It is used when the ball can no longer be reached while running, but only by jumping. The technique can be performed with one or both arms. At the Olympic Games in 1964, the Japanese women also showed the Japan role named after them for the first time, in which the player rolls over his shoulder after playing the ball.

Upper pass

The upper pass (also called plank or pass) is mainly used when passing to prepare for an attack and can be performed frontally, sideways or over the head. Compared to the lower pass, it enables more precise control of the ball. It can also be played in a one-handed variant, which, however, places some demands on technique and coordination in order not to be judged by the arbitral tribunal as a dirty game and thus as a mistake.

During the upper pass, the palms of the hands point towards the ball, which should be above the forehead. The backs of the hands are folded back, while the thumb and index finger of both hands each form an open triangle. The ball is played with a short, quick motion from the wrists.

Attack strike

With an attack stroke, the player tries to pass the ball over the net in such a way that it is difficult for the opponent to control it. In the official rules of the FIVB (rule 14.1), an attack hit is defined as an action in which the ball is played in the direction of the opponent, with the exception of service and block. There are different types of attack hits.

  • The smash is the most commonly used variant and creates a lot of pressure. The player takes three steps before the attack blow. During the orientation or initial step, which takes place with the side opposite the hitting hand without much gain in speed, he leads the arms slightly forward. With the fast, long step, he lowers the center of gravity , while the arms are brought behind the body. When taking off, the player places the back foot just diagonally in front of the front foot in order to convert the forward movement into an upward movement. This is important to avoid ending up in the opposing field after the hit. When jumping, the player quickly brings his arms up and the flapping arm back. At the highest point he hits the ball down hard over the net. The direction of the stroke can be adjusted with the palm, fingers and wrist.
  • A quick attack (also known as “first tempo”) is played over a short distance, with the caulking step often jumping in slightly. A distinction is made as variants between the climber, in which the attacker jumps off directly in front of or behind the player, and the shot with a fast and flat pass over a distance of around two meters.
  • In a backcourt or backcourt attack, a player jumps from a rear position behind the attack line. He commits a mistake if he crosses the line of attack or its imaginary lateral extension before the stroke and then hits the ball above the upper edge of the net.
  • Praise is a ball played long and high, which - often as a feint - flies over or past a block to let the opponent run into space.
  • With a lifter, the ball is briefly touched from below with the fingers of the hitting hand and played into the opposing field, often over an opposing block.
  • Players sometimes play the ball with the second of three possible ball contacts in an empty area of ​​the opposing field in order to surprise the opponent who is expecting a pass to the attacker.


A block is an action in which players on the defending team attempt to parry an attack hit directly above or near the net. Up to three players, who are in the front positions, jump up on the net and try to let the ball ricochet with stretched arms and spread, rigid fingers. Depending on the number of players involved, one speaks of a single, double or triple block.


Game positions

Usually the tasks in a team are divided between two middle blockers, two outside attackers, one diagonal attacker and one player. Depending on the game system (see below), a second player is also possible instead of the diagonal attacker. The Libero also plays a special role .

  • The middle blocker mainly acts on the net. He fends off enemy attacks with a block. He can also be tied in for a quick attack through the middle.
  • The outside attacker combines two tasks, which is why this position is also called acceptance / outside. Together with the Libero, he takes care of the acceptance and defense of the balls coming from the opponent. He also attacks from the left side of the field and participates in the block on that side.
  • The diagonal attacker gets its name from the fact that he faces his own setter diagonally when serving. He usually attacks on the right side and blocks there. He is mostly the team’s main attacker. Therefore, he is rarely included on the defensive. The use of the diagonal player depends heavily on the quality of acceptance of the team and the skills of the player, as the passes are often made backwards over the head.
  • The player (also called the player, passeur or player) is usually responsible for the second ball contact. After accepting it, he plays the ball to one of the attackers. Thanks to the so-called runner system, the player always gets to the position from which he can best position.
  • The Libero is a specialist in acceptance and defense. It is only used in the rear positions. He may - from wherever - make attack hits only when the ball is below the top of the net. The Libero is also not allowed to execute a block or serve. The player differs from the rest of the team by having a different colored jersey. The position was not included in the rules until late 1998.
  • Universal players are those players who, due to their skills, can be used in different positions (usually with the exception of the libero and player).

Game systems

In professional volleyball today, there are two main tactical systems. The most common formation is the 5-1 system ; as an alternative there is the 4-2 system . The numbers indicate the ratio of attacking players and players: in the 5-1 system there are five players who can attack, while in the 4-2 system there are two players on the field; in addition there is the Libero. Since the player runs from his basic position, which he has to assume when serving, to the optimal point for his pass, one speaks in this context of the runner system. When setting up the game, the player can choose between short, quick attacks across the middle, the so-called "first tempo", and attacks played further outwards. The opposing block and acceptance players must recognize the decision as quickly as possible in order to position themselves accordingly.

The actions of the players also differ according to whether the team is assuming or is currently serving. The first situation is referred to as complex 1, K1 for short, the second situation as K2.

The situation in K1 is also called "sideout"; this term comes from the time before the rally point system, when an accepting team initially only won the right to serve. In K1, the acceptance players including the Libero move back and try to secure as much space as possible. After a successful acceptance, the player decides which pass to play. The decision depends not only on how the ball gets to it from your own assumption, but above all on the observation of the opposing team. The player tries to let the opponent's middle blockers go nowhere and to serve his own attackers as precisely as possible. The attackers can hit the ball at high speed into the opposing field. But you can also play tactically, for example by hitting the ball against the block so that it ricochets off and flies out of bounds. In the event of a successful block by the opponent, the acceptance players must stand by as an attack security in order to keep the rebounding ball in play.

In K2, the serve is the first opportunity to score a point. The serving player has to weigh up the risk he is taking. With a hard, fast serve he can achieve an ace or at least put pressure on the opponent's acceptance to such an extent that it is much more difficult to build up the game; At the same time, there is a high risk that the ball will land in the net or out of bounds if the service is imprecise. A flutter serve (float) is more likely to hit the opposing field, but is less powerful. During the service, the teammates on the net try to restrict the field of vision of the opposing players by stretching their arms upwards. The opponent must not be hindered too much.

When the opponent returns the ball, the block represents the first obstacle. The block players observe the opponent's build-up in order to recognize as early as possible from where which attack is being played. Then they move to that spot and try to jump up and stretch their arms at the right moment. A block can be executed by one or more players. Acceptance is particularly easy with a “thank you ball”. This is how volleyball players describe a situation in which the opponent does not make a powerful attack and only hits the ball lightly over the net. The accepting team often does without a block.

Hand signals

Hand signals from a player

When serving, the players in their own team who are at the net show with hand signals behind their backs how the next move is planned. You can clench your hand into a fist or stretch out one or more fingers. Depending on the character, one hand or both hands are used. With the characters, the players give information about which pass and which attack variant are planned. The exact assignment of the individual characters is discussed within the team so that the meaning of a character can vary.


In addition to head coach and assistant coach, many professional clubs also employ a scout . The scout sits next to the field during a game and enters data into a laptop. He uses codes in special software to note which player is currently performing which action. The trainer can use the data in time-outs to give tactical advice. In addition, the collected data is used to prepare and follow up on games. So the coach can show his team before the game, for example, which opposing player has weaknesses in acceptance and should therefore be played with serves. After the game, the data are used to illustrate the error analysis. In addition to the data, videos are also used.


Origin of the sport

William G. Morgan, the inventor of volleyball

The inventor of volleyball is William G. Morgan . He met James Naismith , the inventor of basketball , while studying at YMCA's Springfield College . After Morgan became a physical education teacher at the YMCA in neighboring Holyoke in 1895 , he looked for a gentle alternative to basketball because there were some older, health-impaired students who could not be expected to have hard physical contact during sports. In early 1896 he introduced the new sport, which he initially called "Mintonette". He derived the name from Minton, a version of spring football developed by David McConaughy, Prime Minister of the British Crown in India.

Morgan took the idea of ​​a separating net from tennis and had a ball that was lighter than basketball developed. He asked his friends Frank Wood and John Lynch to write down the first rules. The first game was played at a YMCA conference in Springfield in July 1896. Professor Alfred T. Halstead saw that the ball was played volley , i.e. directly, and therefore suggested the name “volley ball”, which has been written in one word since 1952. The first rules still differed significantly from today's rules and were developed and standardized in the following decades with regional differences (see below).

Worldwide distribution

In the following years the sport spread around the world. She first came to Canada in 1900 and to Cuba in 1906 by an officer in the US Army . In 1908 a graduate of YMCA Springfield brought her to Japan and two years later she reached China . With the soldiers of the First World War , volleyball came to Europe via Normandy and then became particularly popular in Eastern Europe . Egypt was the first African country to learn about the sport in 1915. In 1916 she was accepted into the NCAA program. In 1920 volleyball came to the Soviet Union and in 1922 the first national association was founded in Czechoslovakia . The United States hosted the first national championship in the same year, but only YMCA teams took part. 1924 Volleyball was at the Summer Olympics in Paris as a demonstration sport shown in a number of American sports.

The first Soviet championship took place in 1933. There were around 400,000 active players there at the time and there was a play in the Bolshoi Theater . During the Second World War , soldiers contributed to the further spread of the sport worldwide. In 1946 the Confederación Sudamericana de Voleibol was established as the oldest continental association. After officials from Czechoslovakia, France and Poland had already met in the summer of 1946 , fourteen nations came together in Paris from September 18 to 20, 1947 to found the world association FIVB . The Frenchman Paul Libaud was elected as the first president . The number of FIVB members rose to more than 200 national associations in the following decades.

The first European and World Championships for men and women took place between 1948 and 1952 (more on the competitions in the following chapters). At the 53rd  IOC session in 1957, at the request of the Olympic Committee of the USSR in Sofia , it was decided to include volleyball in the Olympic program after a demonstration game. The European association CEV was founded on October 21, 1963 . The first Olympic volleyball tournament took place in Tokyo in 1964 . The African association CAVB and NORCECA for North and Central America were established in 1967 and 1969, and they also organized their first tournaments in the respective years.

In 1983 a game between Brazil and the Soviet Union in the Maracanã Stadium caused a sensation in front of almost 100,000 spectators. The following year, the Mexican lawyer Rubén Acosta Hernández was elected as the new FIVB President. Under his leadership, the world association, which relocated its headquarters to Lausanne , sought more media attention and therefore introduced a number of new competitions. These include the Volleyball Club World Championship (first edition in 1989), the Volleyball World League (1990) and the Volleyball World Grand Prix (1993).

Development of rules and playing techniques

Upper pass in the past

The first volleyball rules, introduced by William G. Morgan in 1896, included a 25 by 50 foot (7.62 by 15.24 meter) field and a 6 foot, 6 inch (1.98 meter) high net . The number of ball contacts allowed per move was still unlimited and, as in tennis, there was a second serve. In the course of the following decades the rules were often changed and regional variants developed. The differences related, among other things, to the size of the field, the height of the net, the number of players and the points to be achieved per set. So in 1912 six players and a rotation and in 1916 a game with two winning sets were mentioned for the first time. In 1920 the restriction to three ball contacts was added and in 1925 the time-out was added. But it was not until the FIVB was founded in 1947 that the rules from America and Europe were standardized. The dimensions for playing field and net height that are still valid today were introduced. In the following decades the rules were further specified and standardized.

The techniques and tactical systems that shape modern volleyball also emerged only in the course of history. In 1920 the Filipinos brought the attack into play, which was then known as the "Filipino bomb". In the 1930s, volleyball training books first spread throughout the United States. The success of the Eastern European nations was evident in other playing techniques. In 1938, Czechoslovakia showed professional block play for the first time, and in 1958 they introduced the bottom feed (excavator). In 1974 Poland carried out the first back field attack.


Members of the world association FIVB

The world association Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) was founded in Paris, but is now headquartered in Lausanne . The current president has been the Brazilian Ary Graça since 2012 . The highest body of the FIVB is the World Congress, while the Board of Administration takes care of the management. The members of the Executive Committee also come from the Board. The world association defines the international rules of the sport. He organizes the world championships, the Olympic tournaments, the World Cup and the Nations League.

Five continental associations are subordinate to the FIVB. These are the Confédération Africaine de Volleyball (CAVB) for Africa , the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) for Asia and Oceania , the Confédération Européenne de Volleyball (CEV) for Europe , and the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) for North - and Central America as well as the Caribbean and the Confederación Sudamericana de Voleibol (CSV) for South America . Of the currently 222 member associations of the FIVB, 54 belong to the CAVB, 65 to the AVC, 56 to the CEV, 35 to the NORCECA and 12 to the CSV.

The CEV was founded in The Hague and is currently headquartered in Luxembourg . The Serbian Aleksandar Boričić has been president since 2015 . The CEV organizes the European championships, the first tournaments of which, however, took place several decades before the association was founded. It also organizes qualification tournaments for FIVB tournaments and the European Cup competitions for clubs. The other continental federations also organize continental tournaments.

The national member associations of the CEV include the German Volleyball Association (DVV), the Austrian Volleyball Association (ÖVV) and the Swiss Association Swiss Volley (formerly SVBV). The DVV organizes German volleyball on a national level. The most important competitions are the men's and women's volleyball league , which is organized by VBL GmbH, which is part of the DVV , and the DVV-Pokal . The DVV also looks after the German national teams for men and women . There are seventeen regional associations (one for each federal state, three in Baden-Württemberg and one joint for Lower Saxony / Bremen). The ÖVV has its headquarters in Vienna. Nine regional associations are subordinate to the ÖVV. Swiss Volley is based in Bern . Fourteen regions are subordinate to it. Like the DVV, the two national associations in Austria and Switzerland organize their national championships and cup competitions and take care of the national teams.

International competitions for national teams

Olympic games

Scene from the 2016 Olympic final Brazil - Italy
Volleyball at the London 2012 Olympics

Volleyball was introduced as a demonstration sport at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris . The inclusion in the Olympic program took place only after the Second World War . On the sidelines of the 53rd IOC session in Sofia in 1957 , the volleyball players organized a tournament to draw attention to the sport. In 1961 the decision was made to host the first volleyball competition at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo .

The men's tournament was won by the Soviet Union against Czechoslovakia , while the hosts took third place. The title was defended four years later . After bronze and silver, the Japanese won gold in Munich in 1972; The opponents in the final were the GDR team . In 1976 , Poland won the final against the Soviets, who four years later won their third gold medal in Moscow in the absence of Western nations. When the USSR did not take part in Los Angeles in 1984 , the hosts won again . In 1988 the USA and the Soviet Union faced each other in the final and the Americans successfully defended their title. In 1992 in Barcelona Brazil triumphed for the first time and in 1996 in Atlanta the Netherlands, who had previously been defeated in the final, prevailed. Four years later there was the first success for Yugoslavia . After that, the Brazilians were in the final four times in a row. In 2004 in Athens and at the home game in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, they won gold, while they were defeated by the USA in 2008 and Russia in 2012. The Russians (including the results of the Soviet Union) are currently the most successful nation in the men's Olympic tournaments. It is followed by Brazil and the United States.

The first four women's Olympic tournaments were shaped by the duel between Japan and the Soviet Union , which each won twice. The bronze medals went to Poland and North and South Korea in the first few years . In 1980 in Moscow, the hosts won against the GDR team . In her absence, China won the 1984 final against the United States . Four years later, the USSR reported back with winning the title against Peru . 1992 to 2000 was the successful time of the Cubans , who won gold three times in a row. In 2004 in Athens China won again, while Russia finished second like four years earlier. Brazil , which won bronze in 1996 and 2000, won the 2008 finals in Beijing and 2012 in London. At the 2016 home tournament in Rio de Janeiro, however, they missed the medals that went to China, Serbia and the USA. Russia (including the Soviet Union) leads the medal table for women ahead of China and Cuba.

The next Olympic tournament has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will take place in Tokyo in 2021 . In January 2020, the last starting places were awarded at the continental qualifying tournaments .

World championships

Game scene of the 1952 volleyball world championship
Brazil v Italy at the 2014 Women's World Cup

The volleyball world championships take place every four years, with some exceptions in the early days. The first six men's tournaments were dominated by the Eastern Bloc teams . The first two tournaments in Moscow in 1949 and Moscow in 1952 were won by the Soviet Union ahead of Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. The CSSR then won the 1956 final against Romania in Paris . In 1960 in Brazil and two years later in the Soviet Union, these two countries then rejoined the medals behind the Soviets. In 1966 , Czechoslovakia won another final against Romania at home. In 1970 , the GDR beat host Bulgaria for the first time. Japan finished third, as did Mexico in 1974 when Poland defeated the Soviet Union in the final. The latter won their last titles in Italy in 1978 and Argentina in 1982 . In 1986 she was in the final again, but had to admit defeat to the United States, which won their only world title to date. Then there were the successful streaks of the Italians and Brazilians, who each became world champions three times in a row. The silver and bronze medals went to different nations, three of them to Cuba. In 2014 in Poland , the hosts prevailed against Brazil in the final, while Germany won the next medal 44 years after the GDR had won the title. At the 2018 World Cup , there was the same final with Poland's successful title defense.

The Eastern Bloc countries also initially dominated women. In the first three tournaments the Soviet Union was world champion and the other medals went u. a. to Poland and Czechoslovakia. From 1960 to 1974 there were four finals between the USSR and Japan, which each won two of them. In 1967 in Tokyo , the hosts also prevailed against the United States. In 1978 in the Soviet Union , Cuba won the final against Japan. In 1982 in Peru , China defeated the hosts, who four years later won bronze in China's title defense against Cuba. 1990 in China , the Soviet Union was successful against the home team. Cuba won the next two world championships against Brazil and China. In 2002 a world championship took place in Germany for the first time. The final was won by Italy against the United States, while Russia finished third for the third year in a row. However, the Russians then won the next two tournaments, both of which were held in Japan. In Italy in 2014 , the medals went to the USA, China and Brazil. In 2018 in Japan , Serbia prevailed over Italy and China.

For men and women, Russia (including the Soviet Union's results) is the most successful World Cup participant. The country is also hosting the 2022 Men's World Cup . The women's tournament takes place in Poland and the Netherlands in the same year.

Volleyball World Cup

The Volleyball World Cup takes place every four years and is held in the year before the Olympic Games. Japan has always been the host since 1977. In addition to the host, the reigning world champion and two other teams from each continental association, which are best placed in the world rankings, take part in men and women. For a long time the tournament was also considered part of the Olympic qualification. However, this no longer applies to the latest edition (2019). The 2019 World Cup was held from September 14th to 29th (women) and October 1st to 15th (men). China defended the women 's title, while the Brazilian men succeeded the United States .

Volleyball Nations League

The Volleyball Nations League is another global competition for national teams. It has been held annually since 2018 and includes several weeks of group matches and a final round of the six best teams. The Nations League replaced the Men's Volleyball World League and the Women's Volleyball World Grand Prix and ensured uniform competition. In the women's 2019 edition , the Americans won their second title. For men succeeded Russia also defend the title. The Nations League 2020 , which was supposed to start in May, has been completely canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic .

European championships

Germany - Turkey at the 2013 Women's European Championship
European Championship final 2016 women Netherlands - Russia

The first European championship was held in Rome in 1948 for men and in Prague for women the following year . Initially the tournaments took place at irregular intervals. Since 1975 there has been a two-year rhythm in the odd years. Just like the Olympic Games and World Championships, the European Championships in the early years were shaped by the Eastern European teams.

Czechoslovakia became the first men's European champions before the Soviet Union won the next two titles. In 1955 in Bucharest and 1958 in Prague , the Czechoslovaks each won the final against Romania, which prevailed in the 1963 home tournament against Hungary. After that, the Soviet Union became European champions nine times in a row, first twice against the CSSR and then five times against Poland, before Czechoslovakia and France were the opponents again. From 1989 to 2005 the successful time of the Italians followed, who were six times European champions, twice second and once third. The other titles in this period went to the Soviet Union in Germany in 1991 , to the hosts in the Netherlands in 1997 and to Yugoslavia in 2001 in the Czech Republic . In the following tournaments there were five different European champions. At the latest edition in 2017 in Poland , Russia prevailed against Germany in the final. The EM 2019 was held for the first time in four countries. Serbia won the final against Slovenia .

For women, the Soviet Union won ten of the first eleven European championships, only interrupted by the final defeat against Czechoslovakia in Bucharest in 1955 . The Czechoslovakians and Poles won most of the other medals during this period. The GDR team won bronze in Yugoslavia in 1975 and then twice silver. After Bulgaria won its home tournament in 1981 , the East Germans did so two years later . These alternated in the next three tournaments in the finals with the Soviet Union. In 1991 in Italy the all-German team finished third and the Soviet Union won the final against the Netherlands. Successor Russia won four of the next five tournaments. Only the Netherlands won their tournament in their own country in 1995 . There and in the next two finals, Croatia was the opponent. In 2003 in Ankara there was again bronze for Germany and the first title for Poland, which the team successfully defended two years later . The Italians were then twice European champions. The German team lost the 2011 and 2013 finals to Serbia and Russia, the latter in their own country. This was the result in 2015 for the Dutch women, who also faced Serbia in the final in 2017 . At the EM 2019 , which was played in four countries, Serbia managed to defend its title with a 3-2 win against Turkey.

Other continental championships

In addition to the European championship, there are other continental championships.

The CAVB organizes the African volleyball championships , which have been held for men since 1967 and for women in 1976. In the men's category, most of the titles went to Tunisia until 2003 . The biggest competitors were Egypt , Algeria and Cameroon , each of which was two African champions during this time. From 2005 to 2015, five titles in a row went to the Egyptians, before Tunisia won again in 2017 in Cairo and 2019 in Tunis . For the women, Egypt and Tunisia won twice each. From 1991 to 2015 Kenya mostly prevailed. At the 2017 and 2019 championships, however, Cameroon won the finals against the Kenyans.

The AVC has hosted the Asian volleyball championships since 1975 . In the men's category, China , Japan and South Korea won all titles and most medals by 2005 . After a few second and third places, Australia prevailed in 2007 . In 2009, Japan beat Iran , who then won the next two tournaments. In 2015 and 2017, Japan was successful. In 2019 in Tehran , Iran used their home advantage and won the final against Australia. For women, Japan won the tournaments in 1975 and 1983 and otherwise the Chinese women dominated until the renewed Japanese success in 2007 . From 2009 to 2015, China and Thailand alternately won, and Japan again won in 2017. The Japanese won against Thailand in Seoul in 2019 .

The NORCECA is the organizer of the NORCECA championship for North and Central America and the Caribbean. For men, Cuba and the United States shared the title from 1969 to 2013 . In 2015, the Canadians , who had previously finished second and third several times, ended this series. The other medals went initially to Mexico and in recent years to Puerto Rico . At the 2019 tournament in Canada , Cuba prevailed against the USA in the final. Mexico won the first two women's tournaments before the duel between Cuba and the USA began. In 2009 there was another NORCECA champion with the Dominican Republic . Then the United States decided the next three championships for themselves. In 2017 there were only games in three groups without a knockout round. The 2019 women's tournament in Puerto Rico was won by the Dominican Republic in the final against the United States.

The CSV organizes the South American Volleyball Championships . The Brazilian men have won all tournaments with one exception. When they did not participate in 1964, Argentina won . The Argentinians and Venezuela finished second or third in most tournaments. Also in 2019 in Santiago de Chile , Brazil prevailed against Argentina in the final. For the women, Brazil initially prevailed five times . From 1964 to 1993 Peru won twelve championships and Brazil three championships. The Brazilians have been unbeaten since 1995; Since then, they have prevailed five times against Peru, six times against Argentina and most recently against Colombia in 2017 . The same final took place in Lima in 2019 and Brazil defeated Colombia again.

Another big competition is the Pan American Games , where national teams from North and South America compete. The 18th edition took place in Lima from July 26th to August 11th, 2019 . The Argentine men and women from the Dominican Republic prevailed.

International competitions for club teams

Champions League

The Champions League is the highest-ranking European Cup competition organized by the CEV . Until 1995 it was called the European Champions Cup. The national champions and other top clubs from the European leagues will compete.

In the first few years the competition was dominated by teams from Eastern Europe. Especially VK CSKA Moscow and the clubs from Bucharest won the men's titles at that time. In 1964, SC Leipzig was the first German club to win. In 1980, Klippan Turin was the first Western European club to interrupt the Eastern Europeans' winning streak, and in the following years there was a duel between the Italian participants and CSKA Moscow. After the collapse of the Eastern bloc, ten out of eleven titles went to Italy. In the 2006/07 season , VfB Friedrichshafen was the only Bundesliga team to win. From 2009 to 2011, Trentino Volley won three years in a row before Russian teams remained undefeated until 2018. The Berlin Recycling Volleys came third in the Final Four 2014/15 in their own hall. In the 2018/19 season , the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin was also the venue for the so-called Super Finals, in which Lube Macerata (Italy) took revenge against last year's winner VK Zenit-Kazan . The 2019/20 competition was canceled without a winner due to the COVID-19 pandemic .

The picture is similar for women. From 1966 to 1990 the two Moscow clubs and Yekaterinburg won 21 titles. In 1978 SC Traktor Schwerin , the predecessor of today's Bundesliga club Schweriner SC , prevailed. In the 1970s and 1980s, clubs from the GDR, especially SC Dynamo Berlin , won various bronze medals. Otherwise, the clubs from Budapest and Sofia as well as the Italian representative Olimpia Teodora Ravenna were particularly successful. As with the men, the Italian women experienced a winning streak from 1990 to 2010. In the following years many titles went to different teams from Istanbul . In 2019 in Berlin, however, there was the purely Italian final, which Novara won against Conegliano . In 2020 , as with the men, there was no winner.

CEV cup

The CEV-Pokal is the second European Cup competition of the CEV. It was initially held as the European Cup Winners' Cup and later under the name Top Teams Cup. This competition is played by the clubs that are placed behind the Champions League participants in their national leagues.

From the first season 1972/73 to 1985, especially the clubs from the Soviet Union were successful with the men. Then, until 1998, almost all of the winners came from Italy. In 1992 Moerser SC finished third in front of their own audience and in 1996 SV Bayer Wuppertal lost the final in Athens against Olympiacos Piraeus . Since the late 1990s the winners have come from many different countries. The Berlin Recycling Volleys won the 2015/16 season in the final against ZSK Gazprom-Ugra Surgut as the first German club to win the competition. The current title holder is Trentino Volley , who prevailed against Galatasaray Istanbul in the 2019 final . The 2019/20 season was canceled without a winner due to the COVID-19 pandemic .

There have already been numerous medals for German clubs among women. In 1975 SC Traktor Schwerin won the final against the two-time title holder VK ZSKA Moscow . In the following season, USC Münster was third and in 1978 there were two clubs among the medal winners: the winner SC Dynamo Berlin and the third VC Schwerte . In 1984 and 1985 the Berlin women won again and in the following two years there were medals for SV Lohhof and SG / JDZ Feuerbach . For the next three years Schwerin placed itself in the top 3 again, while the Soviet clubs won the finals. After the bronze medal for Bayern Lohhof , USC Münster also won the competition in front of its home crowd in 1992, with Schwerin again taking third place. A year later there was the next German winner with CJD Berlin . Then Italian clubs triumphed for most of the years, with Münster reaching the final again in 1995. In the 2000s there were further top results for the Bundesliga club Aliud Pharma Ulm , Bayer Leverkusen (finalists 2004 and 2005) and Schwerin SC (third in 2007). After three Russian and two Turkish successes, Yamamay Busto Arsizio built on the Italian streak in the 2018/19 season with the final win against CS Volei Alba-Blaj . The 2019/20 season ended prematurely without a winner.

Challenge Cup

The Challenge Cup is the third European Cup competition of the CEV. Until 2007 it was called the CEV Cup, which was then used for the higher-ranking competition.

For men, the Challenge Cup has so far been clearly dominated by the Italian clubs, which have won a total of 27 finals and many other medals since it was first held in 1980/81. In 1990 Moerser SC won the final in their own hall against OK Partizan Belgrade . The SV Bayer Wuppertal (1992 and 1997), the VfB Friedrichshafen (1994) and the SCC Berlin (1999 and 2010) were third, respectively. The current title holder is VK Lokomotiv-Belogorje , who won the 2019 final against Vero Volley Monza . The 2019/20 season ended prematurely without a winner.

German women have so far been even more successful than men. The SV Lohhof , the USC Munster , SG / JDZ Feuerbach and the TG Viktoria Augsburg won in the 1980s each discharged in German cities finals against Italian clubs. In addition, until 1990 there were various second and third places for German clubs. USC Münster won the competition in 1994 and 1996. Otherwise - similar to the men - it was mainly the Italian participants who won until 2009. The Dresdner SC came third in 2008 and won the 2010 final in their own hall against Asterix Kieldrecht . In the final of the 2018/19 season , Saugella Monza defeated the Turkish club Aydın Büyükşehir Belediyespor . The 2019/20 season was canceled without a winner.

Club World Championship

The Champions League winners compete against the best clubs from the other continental associations at the World Club Championship organized by the FIVB . The men's competition was initially held from 1989 to 1992 and reintroduced in 2009. The women played in 1991, 1992 and 1994 and have been playing again since 2010.

In the men's category, all titles from earlier years went to Italy. From 2009 to 2012, Trentino Volley followed suit and won each time in Doha . Then the tournament took place four times in Brazil and Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei won three titles . In 2014 and 2017 the Russian clubs VK Lokomotiv-Belogorje and VK Zenit-Kazan won . In 2018 there was an Italian final in Poland, in which Trentino beat Cucine Lube Civitanova .

Of the three previous women's tournaments, two took place in Brazil and one in Italy, with a team from the host's country prevailing. In the editions since 2010, which were initially held three times in Doha and Zurich , six titles went to Turkish clubs. Most recently, Vakifbank Telekom Istanbul successfully defended its title in Shaoxing with a final victory against the Brazilian club Minas Tênis Clube .

Volleyball in individual countries


DVV Cup Final 2019 in the SAP Arena in Mannheim

The German volleyball champions have been determined in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1957. The teams at the Hanover University of Education were the first champions for men and women . Hanover remained the center of German volleyball in the first few years; In the women's category, the 1st VC Hanover was German champion without interruption until 1973. In the men's category, USC Münster won eight titles in a row from 1965. Then clubs like Hamburger SV and TSV 1860 Munich , which are best known for football , became successful . Two titles went to the SSF Bonn . From 1982 there were three championship titles for USC Giessen , four for HSV and two for Bayer Leverkusen . In the women's category, after the Hanoverian women's winning streak, USC Münster and VC Schwerte were added as champions. The heyday of SV Lohhof began in 1982 and the last titles before reunification went to CJD Feuerbach .

In the GDR , the volleyball sports association has been hosting a championship since 1951. The first men's and women's titles were won by teams from university and company sports associations . In the following years there were only three different champions in both leagues: SC Leipzig (including its predecessors), SC Dynamo Berlin and SC Traktor Schwerin .

The 1991/92 season was the first season after reunification . The Bundesliga consists of a main round and then play-off games. The Moerser SC (men) and the USC Münster (women) were the first all-German volleyball champion. In the men's category, four titles went to SV Bayer Wuppertal and ASV Dachau after SCC Berlin won their first title . Since 1998 only VfB Friedrichshafen and Berlin have been German champions. The latter have won seven out of eight championships since 2012. For women, after a few titles for Münster, CJD Berlin and Rote Raben Vilsbiburg , a three-way battle gradually developed between Schweriner SC , Dresdner SC and Allianz MTV Stuttgart . After several second and third places, the Stuttgart women became champions for the first time in the 2018/19 season . Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019/20 season was canceled shortly before the end of the main round without crowning champions.

The DVV-Pokal is the national cup competition. All current Bundesliga clubs take part. In addition, there are second or third division teams who qualify via regional cups. The first edition took place in the 1972/73 season. The list of winners includes roughly the same teams as the Bundesliga. In the GDR, the FDGB Cup was played until 1991 , although at times only sports associations (BSG, HSG) were allowed. There has been an all-German competition since 1992. In addition to Friedrichshafen and Berlin, Generali Haching has also been successful with four titles in the men's category in recent years . In the women's category, after initial successes for CJD Berlin and USC Münster, most of the titles went to the Schwerin / Dresden / Stuttgart trio. The 2020 finals were won by Berlin Recyling Volleys against SWD Powervolleys Düren and Dresdner SC against Allianz MTV Stuttgart . In the 2020/21 season , due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, only the first division clubs will exceptionally compete.

Today the Bundesliga is organized by VBL GmbH, based in Berlin, whose current president is Michael Evers . It was created in 2006 under the name of the German Volleyball League (DVL) and was renamed in 2014. The VBL is part of the German Volleyball Association . In order to increase media interest and to improve the structures, it decided on a “master plan” in 2014 (see the chapter “ Volleyball in the media ”). The DVV is the umbrella organization for German volleyball based in Frankfurt am Main . Among other things, he organizes the DVV Cup and takes care of the German national teams. René Hecht has been President since 2018 .

The volleyball players of the year have been voted in Germany since 1979 . Most of the awards so far have gone to the men Burkhard Sude and Georg Grozer junior (five each) and the women Angelina Grün (nine) and Margareta Kozuch (five). In 2018 Lukas Kampa and Louisa Lippmann were honored for the second time in a row. Since 1987, the volleyball magazine has also been creating rankings with the best players at the end of each Bundesliga season, divided into positions and categories such as MVP and promoted players of the season.


A Bundesliga has been played in Austria since 1972, after a Viennese championship and a national championship had preceded it. The competition has been called the Austrian Volley League (AVL) since 2017. The AVL consists of a basic round (main round) and a master playoff. The men's competition was dominated for a long time by the HotVolleys volleyball team from Vienna and its predecessor clubs . From 2005 to 2017 the Hypo Tirol volleyball team Innsbruck won ten championships. Due to a lack of competition in Austria, the club then moved to the German Bundesliga under the name Hypo Tirol Alpenvolleys Haching . In 2018 and 2019 SK Posojilnica Aich / Dob became Austrian men's champion. Vienna was also dominant among women for a long time. In 2002 the successful time of volleyball Niederösterreich Sokol / Post SV began . The Schwechat club won all championships from 2002 to 2017. The last two titles went to UVC Graz in 2018 and ASKÖ Linz Steg in 2019 .

The Austrian cup competition has been held since 1981. For a long time, as in the league in Vienna and Innsbruck, the men were the champions. However, since 2012 Graz and VCA Amstetten NÖ have each won three titles. Schwechat replaced Vienna as the long-term winner for women. Linz has also won the cup four times since 2002, most recently in 2019, after Graz had previously been successful twice.

The Austrian Volleyball Association was founded in 1953 and is based in Vienna. He organizes the league and the cup competition. He is also responsible for the national teams and other competitions. Georg Leitner has been President since 2017 .


The Swiss champions are determined in the National League A. The men's record champion is Servette Star-Onex Geneva with twelve titles. They are followed by Volley Näfels and Lausanne UC , each with nine titles. Lausanne is also the reigning champion. In the women's category, SC Uni Basel won 22 titles. From 2005 to 2018, VBC Voléro Zurich was always champion, with one exception. In 2019 Neuchâtel UC prevailed.

In the Swiss Cup competition, Servette Geneva, Näfels and CS Chênois are the most successful men's clubs. In recent years, Volley Amriswil has won three times in a row , most recently in 2019 against VBC Züri Unterland. Among the women, Basel with 17 and Voléro Zurich with 13 titles are the most successful clubs. Neuchâtel won the 2019 final against Sm'Aesch Pfeffingen .

The national volleyball association Swiss Volley was founded in 1958 as the Swiss volleyball association. In 2002 it was reorganized under its current name. Swiss Volley is responsible for the league, the cup competition and the Swiss national teams, among other things. The association elected Nora Willi as its new president in 2015 .

Other countries

Volleyball is a very popular sport in Poland . After the first participation in the World League in 1998, the boom began, which was accompanied by sporting successes in the following years. After the European Championship titles of the women's national team in 2003 and 2005, the men became vice world champions in 2006, European champions in 2009 and world champions in 2014 and 2018. The 2014 World Cup took place in Poland and the opening game was played in front of 62,000 spectators. The Polish Ministry of Sports is funding volleyball for both professionals and young talent with several million euros. Television also plays an important role (see below). In the PlusLiga , the men's first division, the reigning champions Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle and his predecessor Skra Bełchatów are the most successful clubs in recent years. In the women's category, ŁKS Łódź became the Polish champion in 2019 after Chemik Police had previously won five titles in a row.

The most successful periods of Italian volleyball were the 1990s and 2000s, in which the national teams won several World Cup and European Championship titles as well as Olympic medals and the clubs dominated the European Cup competitions. The highest national league is Serie A. In 2019, Lube Civitanova became the men's champion for the fourth time since 2012 and Imoco Volley Conegliano won the women's championship for the third time in the past four years.

France celebrated its greatest successes with the men's national team, which finished third in the 2002 World Cup and won the European Championship in 2015 after having won several European Championship medals. The championship is played in the Ligue Nationale de Volley (LNV). In the men's category, Paris Volley and finally Tours VB , which also won the title in 2019, have been successful in recent years . In the women's category, RC Cannes won again in the 2018/19 season after three other clubs had previously interrupted their winning streak.

Russia had its most successful years during the time of the Soviet Union , which at that time, along with Czechoslovakia, won the most titles in all competitions. But also in the last ten years there have been various successes for the national teams. The most successful clubs are the record winners in the national championship cup CSKA Moscow (men, 13 titles) and Dynamo Moscow (women, 11 titles). Zenit Kazan and Belgorod currently dominate the men and Dynamo Kazan and Krasnodar the women, who have won numerous titles in the respective European Cup competitions.

The United States won various medals with their national teams at the last Olympic Games and World Championships. At the national level there is no championship with clubs. Instead, teams from the colleges compete in the NCAA championship . Long Beach State won the men's competition in 2019 and Stanford University prevailed in the women's competition .

Brazil recently confirmed its role as one of the leading nations in volleyball with various titles and medals at the Olympic Games and World Championships. The domestic super league has been played since the 1970s and the most successful teams in recent years are Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei and Rio de Janeiro VC . According to a study from 2011, volleyball is the second most interested sport in Brazil after soccer. It is also the seventh most popular sport (after soccer, running, fitness, tennis, swimming and cycling).

Japan's greatest successes in volleyball came in the 1960s, but the country is now also present as the host of many international tournaments. In addition, volleyball is very popular as a popular sport and competitive sport is very present in the media. The national league is the V.League.

Outstanding volleyball players and coaches

Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke

146 formative personalities of volleyball (players, coaches and officials) are honored in the Volleyball Hall of Fame , which was established in 1985 in Holyoke , the origin of the sport. Only Americans were accepted until 1998, when the list was expanded to include other nations. The German volleyball magazine had a Hall of Fame column for several years.

Lorenzo Bernardi and Regla Torres were voted Player of the Century by the FIVB. Lorenzo Bernardi and Regla Torres were voted Player of the Century by the FIVB.
Lorenzo Bernardi and Regla Torres were voted Player of the Century by the FIVB.

One of the outstanding Americans is Karch Kiraly , who was Olympic champion both indoors and in beach volleyball. He shaped the successful US team of the 1980s with Steve Timmons , who became Olympic and world champion and won other competitions. With the Soviet Union, Alexander Borissowitsch Savin and Vyacheslav Alexejewitsch Saizew became Olympic champions, two world champions and multiple European champions in the 1970s and 1980s. Player Josef Musil won Olympic silver with Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as two World Cup and two European Championship titles. The Italian Lorenzo Bernardi , who was twice world and European champion and was also successful with his clubs, was voted Player of the Century by the FIVB together with Karch Kiraly. Peter Blangé became Olympic champion in 1996 and completed 500 international games for the Netherlands, whose stars also include Jan Posthuma and Ronald Zwerver . Gilberto Godoy Filho , known as Giba, won the 2004 Olympic tournament and two world championships with Brazil. The Yugoslav / Serbs game was shaped by brothers Vladimir and Nikola Grbić , both of whom were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Andrea Giani , today's coach of the German men's national team, took part as a player with Italy in five Olympic tournaments. The outstanding German players include Burkhard Sude (first German Italian legionnaire) and Georg Grozer junior , his father Georg Grozer senior and the current DVV president and 385-time national player René Hecht .

In the women's category, the Cuban Regla Torres , who won three consecutive Olympic golds and two world championships, was named volleyball player of the century. Mireya Luis also belonged to this successful team . Lang Ping became Olympic and World Champion as a player with China and was then also successful as a coach for the Chinese and Americans. The Russian Irina Parchomchuk (now Kirillowa) won gold at the Olympics, World Championships and European Championships as well as many titles in Italy. Her compatriot Yevgenia Viktorovna Artamonova-Estes took part in six Olympic Games, in which she won four silver medals, and was four times European champion and many national champions. In the United States, Flo Hyman was the standout player of the 1980s. In the 2000s, the five-time Olympian Danielle Scott-Arruda won two Olympic silver with the USA and became vice world champion. Terry Place-Brandel completed a total of 601 international matches for the USA and Germany. The German national record player Renate Riek (518 internationals) was active until the age of 49. Angelina Grün (now Huebner) and Margareta Kozuch lead the list of female volleyball players of the year with nine and five awards respectively. Another star in the GDR team was Ariane Radfan .

One of the outstanding coaches is Nikolai Karpol , known for his tantrums , who led the Soviet and Russian women's national teams to numerous titles in all major competitions and was also successful in the domestic league. Yasutaka Matsudaira shaped volleyball technique in the 1960s and 1970s as a coach for Japanese women. Israeli Arie Selinger led the US women and the Dutch men to Olympic silver. Julio Velasco coached six different national teams. The most successful trainer in Germany is Stelian Moculescu , who led the German men to the Olympic Games and won many titles, especially with Friedrichshafen. Other influential national coaches in Germany were Lee Hee-wan , Andrzej Niemczyk and Siegfried Köhler .


The youngsters are trained in volleyball in different age groups. Depending on the age, the number of players on the field, the field size and the net height are adjusted.

In Germany, the German Volleyball Youth (DVJ), as a subdivision of the German Volleyball Association, looks after the young players. German championships, which are held every year as tournaments on a weekend, are in the age groups U14, U16, U18 and U20 for boys and girls. In addition, teams from the regional associations compete in the national cup in different age groups. In addition to their own youth teams, many clubs also cooperate with schools where professionals attend physical education classes. The best players compete for the German junior national teams in international competitions and have won various medals in recent years.

The FIVB organizes world championships from the U18 to the U23.

Age group reigning world champion next tournament
U23 male 2017 Argentina no appointment yet
U23 female 2017 Turkey no appointment yet
U21 male 2019 Iran no appointment yet
U20 female 2019 Japan no appointment yet
U19 male 2019 Italy no appointment yet
U18 female 2019 United States no appointment yet

The European championships organized by the CEV range from the U16 to the U20.

Age group reigning European champion next tournament
U20 male 2018 Russia 2020 in the Czech Republic
U19 female 2018 Italy 2020 in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia
U18 male 2018 Germany 2020 in Greece and Italy
U17 female 2018 Russia 2020 in Montenegro
U17 male 2019 Poland no appointment yet
U16 female 2019 Turkey no appointment yet

Lower leagues and recreational sports

Black light tournament

Volleyball is also a popular sport in the leisure sector. According to 2006 figures, around 800 million volleyball players around the world are active at least once a week.

In Germany, the 1972 Olympic Games triggered a volleyball boom in their own country. TV broadcasts made the sport reach a large audience for the first time. By the beginning of 1973 the number of members in the German Volleyball Association increased by 90% to around 46,000 members within twelve months. For example, 300 new teams registered with the West German Volleyball Association within four months and the number of clubs in Hamburg rose from 30 to 50. The enthusiasm also led to problems, especially because many cities had no or only too small halls . The DVV board temporarily thought about concentrating only on popular sports and abolishing the national team. The DVV peaked in membership numbers in 1998 with a good 535,000 members and almost 12,000 teams. In the following years the numbers decreased. At the beginning of 2019, according to the DOSB, there were 405,461 members, placing the DVV in 15th place in the ranking of the leading associations. Below the first and second Bundesliga there has been a third division since the 2012/13 season with the areas north, west, south and east. Eight regional leagues follow. The further league structure is determined by the regional associations and, for example, in the West German volleyball association consists of the Oberliga, Verbandsliga, Landesliga and Bezirksliga. There are also competitions for the next generation (see above). Outside of leagues and clubs, volleyball is practiced as a recreational sport; There are regular tournaments across the country.

In Austria, the Free Austrian Youth , who got to know volleyball on visits to Eastern Europe, made a significant contribution to the sport's popularity after the Second World War. Below the Austrian Volley League there is a national league for men and women as well as competitions for young talent in each regional association. In Switzerland, Swiss Volley had around 44,000 licensed members and 480 clubs in the 2017/18 season. The association has seen an increase in membership over the past few years. In the individual regions, the term Regionalliga summarizes the second to fifth leagues.

Medical aspects

Volleyball puts a lot of stress on the body, which doctors describe as anaerobic alactacid . The ankles, knees, lower back, shoulders, and hands and fingers are particularly prone to injury. Professional players complete several hundred jumps a day in training and play, which often leads to injuries to the knee and ankle . The feet are also at risk if a player kinks after jumping on the net (sometimes with a touch on the opponent's foot). There are also many injuries to the shoulder , as it is intensely stressed by movements when serving and attacking. Especially with middle blockers, there are also injuries to the fingers, especially the ligaments , if they are overstretched by the ball contacts when blocking.

Volleyball in the media

Although volleyball is played around the world, the public perception is very different in the individual countries. In Germany it is a marginal sport , even if its presence in the media has increased in recent years. In Poland , however, this sport is very popular.

The desire for greater public interest also led to adjustments in the rules of the sport and regulations for individual competitions. The rally point system introduced by the FIVB in 1999, according to which every rally scores one point and a set (normally) with 25 points is won, ensured that the length of a volleyball game was limited and the television stations could better plan broadcasts . In order to participate in the Volleyball Champions League , the CEV obliged the clubs a few years ago to present detailed reports on television.


In Germany, volleyball is shown primarily on sports channels and on online platforms. The games of the German Bundesliga have been shown on the Sporttotal .tv portal in live streams and on demand since the 2018/19 season . Previously, there was a similar offer on the Sportdeutschland.tv portal, which is operated by the German Olympic Sports Confederation and ProSiebenSat.1 Media . Since the 2017/18 season there has also been live broadcasts of individual games on Sport1 ; the sports broadcaster initially presented the women's Bundesliga and now also men's games. Sport1 also shows DVV Cup games . At the cup final there are also some broadcasts in the third programs . Games in the European Cup can be seen in live streams and on demand on the online portal Laola1.tv . Eurosport has been broadcasting individual Champions League games by German teams since the 2018/19 season . Sport1 has been active in international matches for the German national teams since the women's volleyball championship in 2013 and now has various tournaments for women and men in its program.

Especially before the involvement of online platforms and Sport1, there was often criticism of the lack of presence of volleyball in the German media. The public broadcasters ARD and ZDF were criticized when they only showed a brief summary of the men's national team that won the bronze medal at the 2014 World Cup .

German associations and clubs are therefore looking for other ways to increase public interest in volleyball. The volleyball Bundesliga responded to the problems in 2014 with a master plan. The measures were intended to help improve structures, which the successful trainer Stelian Moculescu , for example, described as “gym nastiness”. However, there were also concerns because it would burden smaller clubs.

Clubs create short videos and magazines on their own, which they publish on their website or YouTube . Volleyball fans and moderators use the Internet to draw attention to their sport and to achieve a greater media presence. On Facebook , Daniel R. Schmidt, who is interested in eventing as the hall spokesman, founded the initiative Bringt Volleyball into the media in 2012 . With Daniel Höhr, he first moderated the podcast Block and Spike and now alone the successor Baggern, Bienenstich etc. Höhr has been moderating the online format Volley Talk with Katharina Hosser at Sport1 since October 2018 . Another podcast is called Ohne Netz und Sandy Boden and may be. a. moderated by the beach volleyball professionals Alexander Walkenhorst and Daniel Wernitz .

The monthly volleyball magazine (1977 to 2002 Deutsche Volleyball-Zeitschrift ) is the most widespread print medium for volleyball and beach volleyball in Germany with a circulation of around 4,400 copies. In addition to current reports and reports, it also provides information on training.

The Japanese anime series Mila Superstar , in which a young volleyball player takes center stage, caused increasing interest in volleyball in Germany in the 1990s, especially among girls between the ages of seven and eleven. For attention in the media also attended Burkhard Sude , who in 1982 in the TV show Wetten, dass ..? won alone against an association league team.

Other countries

In Austria and Switzerland, volleyball is treated as a marginal sport. International matches or finals in club competitions can be viewed in special-interest channels such as ORF SPORT + or in online streams on SRG SSR .

In Poland volleyball is shown extensively on television. Polsat broadcasts both national team and national league games with great technical effort. According to its own statements, the station has invested more than one billion złoty (around € 235 million) in sport since 2000 and describes volleyball as its most important sport.

There is also increasing coverage of volleyball in the Brazilian media. According to a study from 2011, volleyball is the sport with the third highest media exposure after football and tennis.


Fans of the Polish club Asseco Resovia Rzeszów

The clubs in the German Volleyball Bundesliga are supported by fans, most of whom are organized in fan clubs . The fans of different clubs also work together, for example when they support their clubs together at the DVV Cup final. In summer the fan clubs also organize their own championship in the form of a beach volleyball tournament. In 2013, the DVV founded a fan club for the German national teams, which among other things offers trips to major tournaments.

In other countries the fan culture is very different. In Poland, where volleyball has become one of the leading sports, there are many enthusiastic fans. This was seen, for example, at the 2014 World Cup , the opening game of which took place in front of 62,000 spectators. In Greece, on the other hand, there are fans of certain clubs that appear regardless of the sport and attract attention due to sometimes violent riots.


  • Beach volleyball is also an Olympic variant that is usually played outdoors on sand. The rules largely correspond to those of indoor volleyball. However, there are only two players per team on the slightly smaller field and there are two sets of wins. Many players are active indoors in winter and beach volleyball in summer. The American Karch Kiraly , for example, was Olympic champion in both disciplines.
  • Snow volleyball is similar to beach volleyball, but on snow and with three players per team. The FIVB aims to be included in the program of the Olympic Winter Games.
  • Sitting volleyball is mainly played by people with disabilities. The athletes sit on the field. The variant belongs to the Paralympic disciplines. Another variant for people with disabilities is standing volleyball .
  • Other volleyball variants and similar sports are Fistball where the ball is played with one arm, Park Volley (with simplified rules) volleyclub (with clubs), water volleyball (game field in the water) and Indiaca (with a kind of badminton).
  • Cachibol is based on the volleyball rules and uses a field of the same size. However, the ball is caught with two hands and must be thrown on within a second. Hooverball is similar , it is played with a medicine ball.
  • Ecuavóley is played in Ecuador.
  • At Teqvoly , volleyball is combined with table tennis . This variant was created in Hungary , where the first World Cup was held in 2019.


Web links

Portal: Volleyball  - Overview of Wikipedia content on indoor and beach volleyball
Commons : Volleyball  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Volleyball  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations



Further information

Live streams and videos

Individual evidence

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This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on August 25, 2019 .