Blocking a Volleyball Serve: Can you do it? Is it Allowed?

can you block a serve

One of the easiest ways to score points in volleyball is by simply blocking the other team’s attacks. Some national teams have won big trophies by mostly relying on that …

Generally, to be able to block you need to take a position close to the Net when somebody from the opposite team is about to hit or spike the ball while building up their attack …

But, what about doing that to block the serve, wouldn’t be this be even better?!

In this article you will learn whether you can block a serve in volleyball!!

Do rules allow blocking a serve in volleyball?

The rules of volleyball explicitly forbid a receiving team from blocking – or spiking – a served ball.

Specifically, anybody inside the 10 ft line when the serve is made is not allowed to return it immediately, even if the serve is short.

Why can’t you block a serve in volleyball?

The reason for such a rule has to do with fair play. The sport was originally devised as an equal opportunity sport, open to all ages, regardless of sex and athletic ability. And the sport’s governing body, FIVB continues to promote their vision of the game as a fun and exciting game.

It would be contrary to the spirit and ethics of volleyball to allow a team of very tall players to effectively hijack games by blocking every serve that came their way, just by virtue of their height.

This is especially true for junior and non-professional players, who enjoy the sport for the exercise and camaraderie, but do not necessarily take it too seriously. Constant blocking of the serve would soon rob the sport of any enjoyment for them.

It also would rob the serving team of many of the advantages of serving. To avoid the block, they would be forced to use high looping serves, which would be easy to deal with, enabling the receiving team to set-up and spike at their leisure.

This would rob the game of much of its spectacle.

Can you block a serve in volleyball without jumping?

It is illegal to block a serve without jumping, although the definition of a block in the rules makes no mention of jumping, only that the contact with the ball occurs above the net.

That means that a very tall front row player is not allowed to contact the ball when it is served, even if they are tall enough to reach over the net.

Where there is some ambiguity is that anything below the height of the net is not classified as a block, but is categorised as an attack instead.

In practical terms, though, it is difficult to conceive a situation where a ball has partially crossed the net, part of it is below the top of the net, and the contact is entirely beneath the top of the net.

Important Side Note: If you are struggling a little bit with your vertical jumps in volleyball, then you might think about using a specific kind of volleyball shoes that have a solid Grip and Cushioning  that will help promote higher jumping and safe landing. For example, these quality volleyball shoes have these features and can give an interesting advantage for your jumps.

Can you send back a serve from first touch?

It is possible to send back a serve from the first touch, although this might not be advisable, as it will usually give the serving team an advantage

That is because when it does happen, it normally occurs in the junior levels of the sport, where there is a good server on one side, and the receiver is unable to control their return.

Playing the serve back immediately usually gives the serving team time to get into position and to set the ball allowing one of their front players to spike it.

Beach volleyball, though, has slightly different rules, and states that players cannot play the serve directly back over the net, if the ball is in the front zone, and entirely above the height of the net.

Can you block the view of the server in volleyball?

It is specifically against the rules of volleyball to block the view of the server. This is defined as screening, which has multiple applications.

Given that most points start with a jump serve, referees are often reluctant to make a screening call. This is partly because it can be difficult to judge the line of sight from their position on the side of the court, so they will often wait for the serving team to call the foul.

And the server also has the right to change the angle and trajectory of the serve, or rely on the fact that, if their serve is charged down at the net, this could be deemed an illegal block, and they would be awarded the point anyway.

What is an illegal block in volleyball?

Apart from preventing the serve from reaching the intended receiver, there are a number of other actions that can be deemed an illegal block …

When a hitter strikes the ball off the hands of the intended blocker and the ball ends up out of bands, this is known as tooling, which results in an automatic award of the point to the offensive team. That is because the last one to make contact with the ball was a member of the blocking team.

Any contact made with the net by a player while they are executing a block will be deemed a violation, even if it is wholly accidental.

Equally, if the foot of the blocker crosses the centre-line of the court while jumping or landing – even if just by a fraction of an inch – this will be called by the umpire as a net violation. The point will be awarded to the other team.

In a similar vein, reaching, where the hands of the blocker cross the net in the course of a point is equally illegal and will result in the loss of the point.

Last, but not least, there Is the back row block. This is what happens when somebody who is in the back row for a particular rotation attempts to block the ball at the net. This is not allowed because they are expected to maintain their relative position on court during that point. It often happens when a setter finds themselves in the back row, momentarily forgets the rules, and attempts to block the ball at the front of the net.

For more, I strongly encourage you to check these other illegal moves in volleyball … You will learn a lot!

Can you block a serve in sand volleyball?

Just like with indoor volleyball it is against the rules for any player to block or spike the serve in the beach version of the game, and for much the same reasons…

In fact, the regulations are quite explicit on this, stipulating that a block or contact can only be initiated after the attack hit has been executed. By definition, if the serve is not complete, then the attack hit has not been fully executed.

Final Thoughts …

I highly encourage you to keep checking those details oriented articles where you can learn and understand the details related to volleyball rules …

The importance of such rules (like what you should avoid while blocking in volleyball) is not only about being compliant, but also about helping you becoming overall a better player as you will adjust your style to those rules.

Finally, if you want to become good at blocking from a skills perspective, then I urge you to have a look at these volleyball blocking practicing ideas … You can practice those drills at home if you want!

Carissa Harmer

Carissa Harmer has over 6 years of volleyball experience between playing the sport at a semi-professional level, following the biggest volleyball teams & leagues out there as well as helping beginners to get started on the right path.

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