There’s a lot of talk going around the volleyball community globally about the rules changes FIVB is looking at potentially institute in the future. Volleywood has a post which tracks the recent changes regarding new rules for the current cycle, which includes the rule against taking serves overhead that was going to go in, but got postponed.

Here are some of what is being talked about by the powers that be:

  • Require servers to land behind the end line
  • Back row attackers must land behind the 3-meter or 10-foot line
  • Eliminate open-hand tip
  • Eliminate overhead serve receive serve
  • Penalties for a missed serve
  • Free substitution – any player can sub for any player at any time
  • Any contact with the center line is a violation
  • Any net touch by an athlete is a violation
  • Decrease the number of points per set

Personally, I’ve long been opposed to the rules changes allowing center line touch/penetration and net contact. Aside from it being a question of player safety, I also think body control is a key skill in volleyball and letting players swim in the net and such detracts from that.

The requirement that players land behind the end line on a jump serve probably wouldn’t have much impact (except in gyms where there isn’t all that much area behind the line to start with). Not allowing back row attackers to broad jump to hit things like BICs would be meaningful, though.

I’m not sure about dropping the open-hand tip. Sounds like it’s mainly intended to eliminate setter dumps with the idea being they are rally killers. I may be OK with it on that basis (though my immediate question is why not just play better defense?), but I’m mixed in terms of taking the tip away from hitters. Some suggest a roll shot can be used instead, which is fair enough, I suppose.

On the penalties for missed serves, I understand that they want to cut down on what is a pretty dull play and reduce the amount of time players just go back and bomb away. Missed serves are already penal, though, and not just in terms of giving the other team a point (see my post about when not to miss your serve).

In terms of free subs, you can see something moving in that direction in play in the US women’s collegiate game – which always seems to play just a bit differently than everyone else. There they use the libero (who can serve in one rotation) plus have 12-15 subs (it seems to change periodically). That obviously creates a lot of specialization opportunity. There is something to be said for having the best possible line-up on the court at all times for the highest level of play. I’d want to see exactly how this would be instituted, though. I personally would like to see the core rotational nature of the game being maintained.

And of course there’s the no overhead passes on serve receive rule which was to go in this year but his been pulled back for further review. I personally like cleaning up serve receive passing to get rid of the doubles, though completely ruling out the overhead pass seems unnecessarily restrictive. The hard bit will be having a whole generation of players who’ve come up playing with their hands suddenly having to change.

What about you? What are your thoughts?

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

    6 replies to "Proposed FIVB rules changes ahead"

    • John Forman

      Yeah Pat, that’s why I linked to it in the post 😉

    • John Forman

      The Junior Volleyball Association has a good post on the subject as well for those who may not have seen it yet:

    • John Forman

      There’s also a conversation going on about the FIVB’s proposal to cut sets to 21 points going on at Volley Talk: That one is in reaction to this article at Volleywood:

    • Chris

      I’m all for contact with the net is a fault. Something I’ve wondered through the years is why is it ok for FIVB to allow jewelry and the USAV/AAU/JVA doesn’t allow for that at the younger age groups. Is it really a question of safety? I’d prefer that they don’t wear jewelry, but what’s the reasoning behind it?

    • John Forman

      Unless they’ve changed it, the NCAA doesn’t allow jewelry either. I once witnessed a player have an ear stud cut out of her ear – ironically, by a ref who had a number of piercings herself. It is definitely a safety issue as the justification.

    • Allen

      Net violations (and centerline violations) would be nice…for player safety (and the body control argument). Impact on the jump serve/end live would be more prevalent in higher levels of play as would the 3M line rule…but I like them both. I’m with you on the tip as well, maybe a rule eliminating a setter attacking a ball (without a ‘swing’ ) so as not to remove the option from the hitters…but better defense does seem to be a first step. Overhead passes…just rule them the same as sets. Nice article.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.