Volleyball Points of Emphasis - 2020-21

By NFHS on April 17, 2020 Volleyball Print

Bench Behavior/Sportsmanship

Volleyball is a dynamic sport that displays both athleticism and tenacity through both individual and team play. It is important that all team members feel engaged in a contest whether they are on the court or on the bench. Student-athletes should have an opportunity to celebrate when exciting athletic plays occur in a match. Rule 12-2-7a allows bench personnel to, "Spontaneously react to an outstanding play by members of their own team." It has become apparent that these spontaneous reactions have become, at times, more than a short-lived spontaneous reaction. Bench personnel are coming to the sideline or even onto the court to celebrate. These excessive and disruptive reactions may result in an unsporting conduct penalty as described in Rule 12-2 PENALTIES. The goal of this Point of Emphasis is NOT to prevent engagement and celebration, but to remind coaches to educate their teams of appropriate ways to celebrate.

Management of Non-Team Personnel

Volleyball has grown significantly in both participation and popularity earning the respect of the school community as well as local communities as a major interscholastic sport. This increase in popularity has created increased desire for non-team personnel to be involved in match day affairs, which has created both excitement and confusion. It is necessary to remind coaches of their responsibility to educate school administration and their school community as to the sportsmanship nuances of the game of volleyball. This should include, but is not limited to:

  •  Appropriate times cheerleaders may or may not cheer and proper location to cheer;
  •  Appropriate comments, timing of announcements and good sportsmanship by PA announcers;
  •  Appropriate time for music and sound effects (1-8);
  •  Appropriate location and behavior of fans and mascots, etc.


Officials have the responsibility to enforce rules that apply. Inappropriate behavior of non-team personnel is the sole responsibility of home management (12-3).

Officials’ Communication

The officials’ pre-match conference is a vital tool for all officials, regardless of experience, and should be used to set the ground rules in a proactive approach to officiating. The first referee (R1) should be deliberate in the topics that are discussed in the pre-match conference. The second referee (R2) should be prepared to ask questions and to understand the expectations of the R1.

One topic of discussion should be the administration of penalties (unnecessary delay and unsporting conduct). Clarifying the responsibilities and mechanics will create a seamless penalty administration.


Second Referee Initiating Penalty Administration

  •  When the R2 administers an unnecessary delay, the R2 shall step to the side at fault, whistle and signal unnecessary delay (signal 20). The R1 mimics the unnecessary delay signal with the appropriate card, without a whistle.
  •  When the R2 requests a card due to a behavior issue (unsporting conduct), the R2 uses the appropriate card at chest level. The R1 can accept the request with a whistle and display the requested card.


First Referee Initiating Penalty Administration

  • When the R1 administers an unnecessary delay or a card for unsporting conduct, without the R2’s request, the R1 will whistle and show the appropriate card using the appropriate signal.
  • Following the assessment of a card, the R2 will communicate with the scorer and then the offending team’s coach, while the R1 communicates with the offending team’s captain.

The review of informal signals should also take place during the pre-match conference. It is essential for officiating crews to be on the same page when it comes to both the delivery and the receipt of informal signals.


Review of Informal Signals

  • The R1 will discuss his/her need for potential back-row situations from the R2.
  • Only the R1 signals "below" when the potential back-row player contacts a ball that is not completely above the height of the net. Only the R1 signals "behind" when the potential back-row player attacks the ball over the net, if the player attacks the ball legally from behind the attack line. The R2 does not use either of these signals.
  • The R2 whistles an antenna fault when the ball contacts the antenna on his/her side of the net. The R2 will provide an additional signal indicating that the ball was off of the attacker or blocker.
  • When the ball contacts the net tape and goes immediately out of bounds, the R2 will assist the R1 by indicating which team contacted the ball last, without a whistle (Out, off you).


Uniform Bottom Compliance

For the 2020-21 season, the NFHS Volleyball Rules Committee is emphasizing the importance of adhering to the uniform rules as they apply to uniform bottoms – specifically, manufacturer logos. Rule 4-2-1f states, "A single partial/whole manufacturer's logo/trademark/reference, no more than 2¼ square inches with no dimension more than 2¼ inches, is permitted on each piece of the uniform provided placement does not interfere with the visibility of the player's number." Manufacturers are producing spandex marketed for volleyball with multiple large logos along the waistband. These bottoms, worn with uniform tops tucked or untucked, violate Rule 4-2-1f.

The committee understands that many times players and parents are responsible for purchasing uniform bottoms. It is the responsibility of the head coach to ensure that his/her players are properly equipped, which includes items purchased by the individual athlete. Additional rules relating to uniform bottoms can be found in Rule 4-2-1i.