5 Reasons – Volleyball Players Prefer Standing on Sidelines!


why do volleyball players stand on sidelines

While watching a volleyball game you can clearly see that players outside the court as well as the coaching staff are all standing on sidelines pretty close to the playing zone. This might seem strange for you if you are used to other sports where non-playing players are sitting on the bench. Indeed …

Volleyball players usually stand on sidelines because of the nature of the game that involves constant rotations and substitutions. Substitutes should always stand just outside of the playing zone, so the substitution happens fast to not disturb the rhythm of play. This also makes the communication better overall.

In this article, I breakdown even more reasons for that, I also explain the difference between standing on sidelines vs sitting quite far on the bench and the impact of each approach on the game in general.

5 Reasons volleyball players stand on Sidelines

1. In any sport, communication is an important element and the support from the side-line can be an important boost for the players in the court! Cheering them on, especially if there is no crowd to get behind them.

Of course the coach has the main role in determining the strategy and tactics. But often other players one the side can also spot flaws or mistakes, and make suggestions.

2. Also, when it comes to replacement time, players want to be front and centre of the coach’s mind.  Standing on the sideline sends a clear message that they are ready to take their place when the occasion arises.

And it also means they can take their place on court quicker than somebody who is sat down.

3. In addition, having players instead focused on what is happening on the court, even when they are not playing, helps keep them mentally prepared when it is their turn to take their place on the court.

4. Standing on the side-line can also be used as an “intimidation” tactic as well, so the opposite team will feel that they are facing a full team made of dozens of players rather than just the 6 players on the court.

5. This is also justified by the field size which could be (most of the times) quite small, that is little space between the playing zone and the crowd seats.

What does the volleyball rules say about that?

Volleyball rules discourage players from standing on the side-line, and encourage them to sit down when benches are available.

Indeed, in competitive matches, especially where teams have quite a few players on the roster, officials may rebuke a team for having too many players along the sideline.

That is to preserve the integrity of the match by making sure that only players that are actually involved in match are in the playing zone (there have been incidences where bench players have played a shanked ball).

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The rule of the sport explicitly state that a ball is out if it touches an object outside the court, including a person who is out of play.

That’s why it better for players to keep their distance in order to minimise the risk of the ball accidentally striking them, thereby giving an automatic point to their opponents.

Could those players impact the players on the court?

Players standing on the side-line can impact the players on the court, and this can be both a positive and a negative thing.

On the plus side, they can act as cheer leaders and supporters, providing encouragement to their team mates, especially at the amateur level when there are no crowds involved.

There are negative aspects to this as well. Some players can become nervous if their team mates are standing too close to them, especially if they are having a bad game.

Again, those on the sidelines can also impact the game if the ball happens to strike them. Although this may be accidental, but as I’ve said earlier, according to the sport rules, when this happens the ball is automatically deemed out, and the point will be awarded to the opposing team.

Would sitting on the bench be a better option?

Sitting on the bench might be a better idea, but, for some players, standing is ingrained in them!

That is because young players usually play in multi-court gyms where there are no benches set-up, so they become used to standing, even when they graduate to an environment where it is possible to sit.

There may not always be room for everybody to sit anyway, because volleyball teams can be too large for everybody to be accommodated on the benches, once coaching staff are considered as well.

For those watching the game, sitting does not offer a good and angle as standing. Coaches, for example, will rarely sit down in the course of a match because they cannot view properly what is happening on the court, particularly at the net where most actions take place.

Siting on the bench can help give tired legs and knees a rest, especially in long matches that can stretch over the two hour mark …

But, at the same time, there is a risk that muscles and joints can seize up with the sudden lack of activity. Standing at least keeps the circulation going.

For most players, standing may be preferable to sitting anyway. This is because, when they are standing, they are in the eyeline of the coach and serving as a reminder that they are fit and available for action.

Any other sport where players stand on the side-lines?

There are a number of other sports where players stand on the sidelines …

One example is Amateur Soccer, where substitutes will typically warm-up by sprinting from the centre line to the dead-ball line and back again, often indulging in stretching exercises as well.

And, at an amateur level, where games are played in parks or on waste ground, there may be no benches or seats provided so players not involved in the action may have no option but to stand anyway.

American Football is another sport where there will be a lot of people standing on the side-line during a match – players, coaches, match officials, doctors, performance trainers, and others …

There are no benches provided because it would be dangerous given that the momentum of a receiver taking a pass, or somebody who is blocked, can take them off to the side, and they could injure themselves by colliding with a fixed area like seats.

There can be up to 300 people standing on the side-line during an NFL game. Team personnel are mainly required to stand within a box that is defined by a solid yellow line parallel to the field, although some leeway is usually allowed.

Field Lacrosse is another sport where you will notice pretty much the same thing! Players who are not on the starting team are required to stand or sit several years back from the side of the pitch, and must remain in the out-of-bounds area.

The reasons why they stand are the same as with other sports. In many cases there is no alternative, because lacrosse is often played on pitches where there are no benches or other seating options available.

Standing is also a better way of keeping warm and maintaining the circulation, especially in cold or damp weather.

Final Thoughts …

In my humble opinion, I believe that for high pace and agility sport like volleyball, it is a better idea for non-playing players and even coaches to stand on sideline with the option of sitting on the bench if they want …

The only thing they should consider is to keep at least 4 to 5 feet from the playing zone just to make sure to not touch the ball while the game is actually taking place.

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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