Volleyball Court Components
As is the case with most indoor sports, volleyball has its own unique playing field with set dimensions. Learning the basics of the volleyball court is fundamental to learning how to play the game. Below, we’ll examine the many different components of the volleyball court.
Parts of a Volleyball Court
- Attack Line
- Side Lines
- Center Line
- The Net and Antennae
- Front and Back Courts
- Service Area
- Free Zone
- Substitution Zone
- Libero Replacement Zone
- Front and Back Row
- Coach Restriction Line
- Zones 1-6
The Attack Line
The attack line, or ten-foot line, in volleyball, sits ten feet from the net on either side of the court. It is 29 feet and 6 inches across. This is the line that divides the front zone from the backcourt. Players in the backcourt have to be careful of where this line is because they must hit from behind it on jumping attacks. The attack line also acts as a substitution line, as normal players must sub in and out in front of it, and the libero must enter and leave the court behind it. Liberos are also not allowed to overhand set the ball while standing on or in front of the attack line.
The sidelines on a volleyball court signal where a ball is in or out of bounds. Sidelines are 59 feet long, so each team has 29.5 feet of depth on their side. These lines run under the net, so there is a space between the net poles and the sides of the court. The poles themselves are 36 feet across. If a ball lands entirely outside of these lines, it will be called out. However, if any part of the ball touches the line, it is in. Line judges watch these sidelines, as well as the baselines, to determine if a ball is in or out.
Baselines are lines at the back of the court on either side. Similar to the attack line, baselines are 29 feet and six inches across. It is behind this line that servers will serve the ball. Line judges watch this line to determine if a ball is in or out and to look for foot faults. If the server steps on the baseline while serving, they will have committed a foot fault and will lose the point. Servers can jump during their serves and land over the line only after the ball has been hit.
The center line lies directly underneath the net on a volleyball court. This is a line to divide the two sides of the court. This line is also 29 feet and six inches across. If a player steps over this line, they will be called for a center line violation and lose the point. This line exists to ensure the safety of both teams on the court so that they do not interfere with each other intentionally or accidentally.
Aside from the lines marking different areas on a volleyball court, there are other components of a court that allow the game to proceed as intended. Read on to learn about each of these components and what impact each has on a game of volleyball.
The Net and Antennae
The net acts as the physical divider of the court. A lot of action, blocking, and attacking happens here. In men’s volleyball, the net is just short of eight feet, and the women’s net is seven feet and four inches. Players must hit the ball over the net in order to try and land the ball on the opponent’s side of the floor. Touching the net or failing to get the ball over the net in three touches will result in a point for the other team.
The antennae stand on either side of the net, directly above the sidelines. It marks what is in-bounds and out-of-bounds when the ball travels over the net. If a ball hits the antenna or crosses the net outside of it, it will be called out of bounds.
The area between the net and the attack line is known as the front court, also called the front zone. Players who are in the front row to begin a point must line up in front of the attack line. Any player who is lined up in the back row is not allowed to attack a ball that is above the net in this zone. Liberos are also not allowed to overhand set in the zone, but every other play can.
The back court, or backcourt, is much larger in size than the front zone. Players and the libero who begin the point in the back row must stay behind this line until the other team has served. Any player can attack from the backcourt, but back-row players must stay in this zone while attacking. Most spikes and opposing attacks will land somewhere in the backcourt, making it an essential place for back row players to defend.
The service area is the space behind the baseline where servers will start play from. Depending on the court, the space in the service area will differ, but there will always be hash marks to label the sides of the area. Players must serve from inside those hash marks. The hash marks are 29 feet and six inches apart, the same length as the baseline itself.
The free zone is the area outside of the court’s boundaries. Players come here during timeouts, and it is also where the team’s benches and scorers table resides. A shanked ball can still be played in the free zone as long as it does not touch the ground. Any attack that lands in the free zone is considered out of bounds, and a point will be awarded to the opposing team, as long as it was not touched by the defending team.
Before substituting into the game for another player during gameplay, a player must wait off the court in the substitution zone in front of the scorer’s table. Once both players meet at the substitution zone, they must wait to exchange spots until the scorer gives them the okay. This is only required for non-libero substitutions.
Libero Replacement Zone
Before the libero player enters the game during gameplay, they must wait in the libero replacement zone in front of the team bench. They do not need to wait for the scorer to allow them to enter and can substitute as much as they desire. Libero substitutions do not count towards a team’s substitution limit.
The front row is the set of three players who begin the rally in front of the attack line. These players are allowed to attack and block from anywhere on the court. In the most basic formation, the front row is divided between an outside hitter, a middle hitter, and an opposite hitter. These players are usually considered the main attackers on a team. In some cases, teams will allow the setter to play the front row in order to allow them to get to a pass more easily.
As opposed to the front row, the back row is the group of three players that must line up behind the attack line to start a point. These players can only attack from behind the attack line and mainly serve defensive purposes. In a basic formation, the back row will typically consist of a libero, a setter, and a defensive specialist. If a setter is in the front row, a team may employ an extra defensive specialist or back row attacker instead.
Coach Restriction Zone
There is a specific location where coaches are allowed to be during a game. They must remain behind the attack line on their sideline and cannot step onto the court during the game. If the coach steps over the 10-foot line and is causing issues, the referees can penalize them with a yellow card as a warning or a loss of a point.
The volleyball court is split into six zones called the serving zones, three in the frontcourt and three in the backcourt. There is one zone per player on the court. From left to right, zones four, three, and two are in the frontcourt. From left to right, zones five, six, and one are in the backcourt. These zones are here to help coaches communicate with their players where to hit. During games, you may see a coach signal to the server with their fingers a number to tell them where to serve.
What are the dimensions of a volleyball court?
A standard volleyball court, not including the area beyond the boundary lines, measures 18 meters long and 9 meters wide (59 feet by 29 feet, 6 inches). The area surrounding the boundary lines of the court, known as the free zone, measures 24 meters long and 15 meters wide (78 feet, 9 inches by 49 feet, 2.5 inches). Each half of the court measures 9 meters, or 29 feet, 6 inches, in length. Each half of the court has an attack line running across it, which is located 3 meters (or 9 feet, 10 inches) from the net.
Where is out of bounds on a volleyball court?
Determining where the out-of-bounds areas of a volleyball court are can be tricky at first glance because volleyball nets extend beyond the boundary lines of the court on both sides. However, the rules of volleyball are clear on the out-of-bounds zone, stating that if a ball being volleyed lands outside the boundary of the sidelines or baselines, it is out. Thus, even though the posts holding up the net are part of the net, they are out of bounds. However, a volleyball player can step out of bounds in certain circumstances to prevent a ball from going out when they are attacking, so long as the ball does not touch the ground beyond the lines.
What are the zones of a volleyball court?
Numbered one through six, the zones of a volleyball court are the six quadrants into which each side of the court is divided. Each of the six players on a team covers the area roughly around their zone. The zones are also commonly called service zones, as a server will aim their serve at one of the six zones. Zones one, five, and six represent the areas covered by the players in the backcourt–outside hitter, setter, and middle blocker or libero, respectively. In the frontcourt, positions two, three, and four are covered by the outside hitter, middle blocker, and opposite hitter, in that order.