What Does Side Out Mean in Volleyball?

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If you’re a beginner in the world of volleyball, you might have heard some terms that you don’t understand. Nowadays, many players wonder “what does side out mean in volleyball?” and if that term is still being used in professional matches.

What Does Side Out Mean in Volleyball?

A side out in volleyball means that a team has lost its right to serve. This is commonly used while playing under the “side out scoring rules”. Here, the teams are only allowed to score when they have the right to serve the ball.

However, this type of scoring rule could be considered old and outdated, which is why it is not currently used in professional volleyball matches. After all, these rules were left behind because they resulted in very long and tedious games.

Though, over the years, the term “side out” had gained a new meaning. Digging deep into these terms and learning about their meaning can help you communicate better inside of the court. Thus, allowing you to become a better player.

Volleyball players men playing volleyball

What Does Side Out Mean Nowadays?

Even though this is an old term, volleyball fans started using it to encourage their team to score a point. This happens very often in tournaments where many people are on the bleachers.

For example, the team you are cheering for just lost a point, meaning that the serve goes to the opponent. Here, you and the other fans would begin to scream “Side out!, Side out!” as a way to encourage your team to score a point and get the serve back.

In other words, this term basically means “Get the ball back and keep scoring points” and it’s only used by the fans or players who want to encourage their team. This motivation is known to highly affect the athlete’s performance inside of the court.

What Is Side Out Scoring?

In this type of scoring, only the team who serves the volleyball can score a point.

The receiving team’s main objective is to correctly defend the ball and earn the right to serve. If the serving team commits a mistake, a side out is called and the serve goes to the opponent.

Here, the opponent doesn’t get a point when the serving team fails to return the ball over the net. For example, your team served the ball and it fell outside of the court. In this situation, a side out is called and the opponent gets the serve, however, they do not get a point.

Women hitting volleyball

What Is Rally Scoring?

In rally scoring, the team that manages to make the opponent fail to return the ball over the net scores a point and gets the serve. Here, even when the serving team misses a shot, the opponent gains a point as well the right to serve.

For example, if your opponent is serving and misses by throwing the ball out of the court, then your team scores a point and wins the right to serve.

What Are the Main Differences Between Side Out Scoring and Rally Scoring?

Rally ScoringSide-Out Scoring
Both teams can scoreOnly the serving team can score
Teams need 25 points to winTeams need 15 points to win
Current systemOutdated system

Being able to differentiate these two types of scoring fully allows you to have a better understanding of the game. Here are the main differences between side-out scoring and rally scoring:

  • Inside out scoring, you can only score a point when your team has the serve.
  • In rally scoring, both teams can score a point, it doesn’t matter who is serving.
  • The side out scoring is outdated and it is no longer used in professional volleyball.
  • Rally scoring is currently being used in almost every professional volleyball match.
  • Under side-out scoring, the team who scores 15 points with at least 2 points of advantage wins the set.
  • Under rally scoring, the team who scores 25 points with at least 2 points of advantage wins the set.
  • In sideout scoring, a point is NOT awarded to the opponents when the serving team throws the volleyball out of bounds or commits a fault. In this scenario, they will only get the right to serve.
Team uniting each other
  • In rally scoring, if the serving team throws the volleyball outside of the court or commits a fault, both the serve and the point are awarded to the opponent.

Related Questions

Here are some related questions about side out in volleyball: 

When Did Professional Volleyball Stop Using the Side Out Scoring?

The FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball by its French initials) changed the rules and discarded the side-out scoring in 1999. At the same time, they introduced rally scoring which is the system that has been used for the last decades.

Why Is Rally Scoring Better Than Side-Out?

Since side-out scoring encourages lengthier matches that finish in a tie, the rally scoring system is considered superior. After all, this might lead to an uninspiring game for both viewers and players.

As a result, the modification was made to shorten the time of these matches and make the game more appealing,

Which Position Is More Prone to Committing a Side-Out?

Although all players can throw the ball out of bounds, the position that is more prone to doing it is the spiker. After all, their objective is to send a powerful ball, and if they don’t do it correctly, it can end up out of bounds.


There are many terms used in volleyball, some of them have been forgotten, while some have changed. Since it has evolved, the term “side out” is a good example of this.

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.