Volleyball Game Delay Penalty

Volleyball Game Delay Penalty

In fast-moving, technical sports like volleyball, it is important that teams participate fairly and in a timely manner. If one team delays the game in a prohibited way, they will be issued a game delay warning or penalty. A game delay penalty is one of many different kinds of penalties that a referee can issue during a volleyball match. Read on to learn all about game delay penalties.


In volleyball, a game delay refers to any action by a team that distracts from the resumption of a game. A game may be stopped for many reasons, including a substitution, time-out, or a transition between rallies. A game delay penalty is issued when a team delays resuming the game in some improper manner.

There are five different kinds of actions that can constitute a game delay penalty, including:

  • Delaying regular game interruptions
  • Prolonging a game interruption after being asked to resume gameplay
  • Requesting an illegal substitution
  • Repeating a prior request that the referee considered improper
  • Delaying the game in a fashion not covered previously

Upon the first instance of delaying the game in a volleyball match, a referee will first issue the team a warning. A team does not receive any consequences for a warning. If a team causes any delays after the referee issues a warning, the referee will then issue a game delay penalty. In that case, the opposing team will gain a point and the ability to serve, which is called a side-out.


In both college and professional volleyball, referees will issue both game delay warnings and penalties. Game delay penalties occur after a team has already received a warning and has repeated the offense. If a referee calls the game delay penalty during a professional or NCAA volleyball game, the team will lose the serve. This is called a side-out, and the opposing team will also gain a point.

Referee Signal

Volleyball Game Delay Penalty Referee Signal

When the game delay penalty is called, the referee will hold their arms above their head and cross their hands. They will blow their whistle to stop gameplay if gameplay has resumed. The referee will hold up a red card to signal the game delay penalty. If it is a team’s first game delay offense, they will receive a delay warning. In that case, the referee will make the same gesture and hold up a yellow card instead of a red card.


  • A team attempts to substitute one of their players illegally. For example, the team attempts to substitute a player who is not on the roster. The referee notices and the game is delayed.
  • After a time-out, a team player does not return to the court in time to resume gameplay. The rest of the athletes are forced to wait for the player to return.
  • A team requests an interruption during a rally, which is considered improper, for the second time. The referee issues a game delay penalty.

Similar Penalties to Game Delay Penalty


What is a game delay penalty in volleyball?

A game delay penalty is a penalty that can be issued during a volleyball game if a team delays the start of a game or rally. There are five different ways a team can delay the game, including prolonging a normal game interruption or making an illegal substitution. The first time a team delays the game, they are issued a game delay warning. After the team receives a warning, a referee can issue a game delay penalty if they delay the game again.

What are the consequences of being called for a game delay penalty in volleyball?

The first time a team delays the volleyball game, they will receive a warning from the referee with no additional consequences. The referee will hold up a yellow card. However, once a team that has received a warning delays the game again, the referee will hold up a red card and issue a game delay penalty. The team will lose the rally and then, the opposing team will gain a point and serve for the next rally.

How long do you have to serve in volleyball?

Players on a volleyball team only have a certain amount of time to serve during the beginning of a rally in a game. After the receiving team gains the ball and the players have completed their rotation, the server on the team must serve within five or eight seconds, depending on the league they are playing in. The countdown begins after the referee whistles for service.