A Simple Guide on How to Keep Score in Volleyball

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Learning how to keep score in volleyball is fairly easy once you learn the rules of the game. There are a few different ways you can win a point for your team. There are also a few ways you can create a fault and give the other team the point.

To keep things simple in this guide, I will refer to the two teams as Team A and Team B. That way you can keep up with how each team receives a point.

How Points Are Awarded in Volleyball

A point is awarded to one team every time the other team is unable to defend and the ball hits the floor. The only exception to this rule is if there is a fault in the game. This could be when the referees deem the play is undecidable due to coach confrontation.

Or, it could be a random act and a do-over is called. This means the entire play will be ended without a point given. The same team starts with another serve.

When Team A wins a point, they also get the ball and are able to serve the ball. There is no limit to how many serves a person gets. Their turn to serve is over once Team B scores a point.

The next time Team A wins a point, they get to serve again. However, they will now rotate into new positions at this time. This allows everyone to get a turn at serving during the game.

Here is a guide to how many points are needed to win a game of volleyball.

How To Keep Score in Volleyball

There are a few different ways you can score a point in volleyball. Here is a breakdown of some of the main ways you can score or give the other team a point during the game.

Woman jumping high while hitting volleyball

Earning a Point

Scoring a point directly from the serveAce
Scoring a point by hitting the ball into the opposite side of the courtSpike
Scoring a point by blocking an attack from the opponentBlock

There are a few popular ways for each team to earn a point for their team and secure the right to serve the ball.


The serve is one of the most important parts of the game. No volleys can happen until the ball is sent over the net. If you are unable to serve the ball, or if your serve goes wild and out of bounds, you automatically give the other team a point and the volley ball.

You can also score a point on your serve alone. You may find a weak spot on the court where there is no good coverage. Or, your serve may be too awkward for the other team. This could be due to its sloping angle or powerful punch.

If Team A is unable to hit or return a serve that is inbounds, then Team B will earn a point. Team B will be allowed to serve again.


The spike is one of the best ways for teams to earn a point. This is because you are able to have the ball set up at a higher level. Another player gains momentum running and jumping in the air to hit the ball down onto the other team’s court.

This high powered hit is not easy to bump back up. Many teams are able to score points on the spike. There are players who are practiced with moving to and defending spikes. They either block them or dig the ball (which means being low enough to pop the downward ball back up into play). These defensive moves will help players keep the ball in play and allow them to try a spike of their own for a point.


As previously mentioned, a block is a way to stop a spike. When Team A starts to spike, two players from Team B will move up to the net. They will jump at the same time, with their arms straight up in order to stop the spike from coming over the net. This move requires a lot of power and support from the player and their volleyball shoes, which is why it is key to sport quality volleyball shoes for jumping.

This action will ricochet the ball back onto Team A’s side of the net giving them three chances to hit the ball again. However, you can easily earn points on the block due. This is the case if Team A is not ready to receive the ball back on their side of the court.

Since the spike is coming hard when it is blocked, the ball will ricochet in a fast motion. Unless the players are set up and anticipating a good block, it will be very difficult for them to get the ball back into play.

Giving the Other Team a Point

You can also have bad plays or mistakes. These will stop the play and give the other team a point.

Hit the Net

While the net is very important during the game, it is also just as important to not hit the net while the volley is going on. Any player contact with the net is considered a fault and will automatically give the other team a point.

Girl hitting a white volleyball

A few ways you can end up in the net is if you:

  • Lose footing and fall
  • Jump into the net while hitting or blocking
  • Stand too close to the net while making a play

There are many tips and tricks to help you play close to the net while maintaining a safe volleying distance. Then, you are not called for this fault.

The ball will sometimes get hit into the net and ricochet out. The ball is allowed to hit the net, even during the serve. This allows the players to keep playing until the ball hits the floor or the whistle is blown.

Get Out of Rotation

Since you rotate every time the serve changes teams, it is fairly easy to get out of rotation. When you add in more advanced positions such as middle hitter and rotating setter then it can get even more complex to where players are supposed to be.

Some coaches and referees really watch this. Coaches may hope to get a point or two from the off rotation.

In order to reduce the confusion, players need to remember who is originally stationed on their left and right. They also need to hold their before serve standard rotation position before they run to the advanced setup for better offense and defense.

During the serve is also when a lot of out of rotation plays are called. This is because the people keeping the books are watching to see who is serving next. If the player doesn’t align with who is on the books then the referees will be notified and that team will lose the serve.

Hit Double or Hit Extra

One of the main rules in volleyball is about the hit count. Three hits per side and no player is allowed to hit the ball twice in a row. One player can hit the ball twice in a bump, set, and spike. This can happen as long as they have another player receive the ball between their two hits.

If the ball does not go over the net in three hits, the play is called and Team B gets the point.

There is also a fault called a “Double Hit.” This is mainly geared towards anyone who sets. When you perform a set, you need to keep your hands level and make quick, efficient contact with the ball.

Women volleyball players practicing in court

If your hands are not level, a resounding two hits on the ball will be seen/heard. This will count as you hitting the ball twice, even though it is happening within milliseconds of each hand connecting with the ball.

Some referees will be very strict on this play. Others will be more lax on the set, depending on the grade levels playing.

Be Out of Bounds

The volleyball needs to remain inside of the lines during a volleyball game. If the ball is hit over the net by Team A and does not land inside of the court, then Team B will be given a point and the right to serve.

The ball is allowed to be played out of bounds only when it stays on one side of the net. This allows a level of bad hit forgiveness when the first hit on Team A’s side of the court goes off-kilter.

The second and third hit from Team A will be used to chase the ball and get it back into a good play. Team A just needs to get the ball under control and send a good in-bounds hit to Team B.

There are two individuals who will stand at opposite corners of the volleyball court with flags. These non-players are called line judges. They will raise the flag up if an untouched ball is hit over the net and is out of bounds.

The flag will be pointed down towards the line if the untouched ball was hit inbounds. Balls that land on the line are considered in bounds and playable.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about scoring in volleyball.

How Do You Win in Volleyball?

In order to win in volleyball you need to win 3 sets out of 5. On each set, you need to score 21 points and have a 2-point lead. For example, you can only win a set if you have 21 points while your opponent has 19. If your opponent has 20, while you have 21, the set continues until one team gains a 2-point lead.

What Is the Most Used Skill to Score in Volleyball?

The most used skill to score in volleyball is passing and setting. Contrary to what people believe, setting is considered much more important than spiking. This is because setters are able to read the game and create a play that concludes with a point.

Which Role Scores the Most in Volleyball?

The roles that tend to score the most in volleyball are strikers. This is because they tend to finish the plays that are created by their teammates. Therefore, their only objective is to translate their teammates’ tactics into a point.


When you are learning how to keep score in volleyball, the best thing you can remember is that a referee will blow the whistle to begin a play with the serve. They will also blow the whistle to end one when the ball goes out of bounds or a fault is committed.

The referees will also use hand signals to explain what they are calling. It is good to learn some of these signals, since you may not always see each play as it unfolds due to all the things there are to take in during a game.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.