Can You Reach Over the Net in Volleyball?

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The net is not just a physical barrier, it also has an important role in every volleyball match. If you just started playing this game, you might wonder if you can reach over the net in volleyball and if this can be penalized.

Can You Reach Over the Net in Volleyball?

According to FIVB rules, you can legally reach over the net only after the opposite team has made three hits. This way you can block or hit the ball before it reaches your side of the net. 

Although, there are other situations where you can legally reach over and attack the ball. If you want to improve your understanding of the game, you must learn these situations and the rules that influence them. By doing this, you can grow as a volleyball player.

Man playing beach volleyball

When Can You Reach Over the Net in Volleyball?

Most of the time, reaching over the net to hit a ball is considered an illegal move, making your team lose a point. However, there are specific situations where you can quickly attack the ball and unexpectedly score a point. Here are the situations when you can reach over the net:

Three Hits

Each team has three touches before having to hit it to the other side of the court, if they fail to do it, they could lose the point. That being said, when a team spends their last touch by executing a weak attack, you can block it by quickly reaching over the net. 

You do not need to wait until the ball reaches your side of the net in this situation. After all, the opposing team can’t strike it again, and if they did, they would lose the point.

You can reach over and block any ball as long as they don’t have any hits left.

Setters Mistake 

When the volleyball is directly above the net, it is considered to be playable for both teams, meaning you can attack it. Therefore, if the opposite setter sends the ball too close to the net, you are legally able to quickly reach it and interfere with the opponent’s plays. 

This is considered a setter mistake and it can make you score a quick and unexpected point. However, you need to be careful when performing this move. If the ball remains on your opponent’s side of the court, you can not reach over and interfere with their play.

This would be considered an illegal move and you would lose the point. You should also consider that losing points like this, can highly affect your mentality throughout the match.

Girls' volleyball team playing

No Opponents Close

You can reach over and attack the ball if your opponents hit it too close to the net and there are no opposing players to make a play on it. For example, if your opponent hits the ball poorly and no one else on their team can reach it, you can attack it by reaching over the net.

This is a situation where referees must make quick decisions; after all, there could be a debate as to whether the other team was still capable of making a play on the ball or not.

When Can You Not Reach Over the Net in Volleyball?

According to the rules, there are certain situations where you are not able to reach over in volleyball. If you break these rules, you can lose the point, and the right to serve.

Here you can see the rules that influence reaching over the net.

  • You cannot intervene or block your opponent’s space on their side of the court.
  • You cannot touch or interfere with the ball when it is on the opposing side of the court and the opponents still have three touches.
  • You cannot attack nor block a ball before it reaches your side of the net.
  • It is illegal to reach over and touch an opponent, even when the ball is not in play. This can be considered a violation of the rules of conduct.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the net in volleyball:

Can You Step on the Other Side of the Net in Volleyball?

You cannot have an entire part of your body on the other side of the net. However, you are allowed to slightly make contact with your opponent’s court as long as you don’t interfere with their actions.

Woman reaching the volleyball over the net

For example, if your foot slightly touches the opponent’s side of the court while landing after a jump, it is considered a legal move. On the other hand, if half of your foot makes your opponent trip when trying to reach a ball, it is an illegal move.

Can You Reach Over the Net While Spiking in Volleyball?

Yes, even though a spiker needs to attack the ball on his side of the net, he is allowed to slightly reach over the net after spiking. However, spikers need to be careful not to touch the net because, if they do, it can be considered an illegal move.


Since most of the time is considered an illegal move, reaching over the net can be a risky action to perform. Although, under the right circumstances, it could make you score an unexpected point that can greatly benefit your team.

Alfonso Andrade is an avid sportsman, growing up playing soccer and volleyball. He is a coach and sports analyst, studying the game to analyze performance and help create improvement.