Have You ever been to a volleyball game and heard people shout "side out" but had no idea what it meant?

Don't worry, you're not alone! Many new volleyball fans don't know the finer points of the game and that's perfectly okay.

In this article, we'll look at the basics of volleyball so that you can understand the rules and terminology with confidence.

What Is A Side-Out?

In volleyball, a "side out" refers to a crucial play that determines the exchange of service possession between the competing teams.

It occurs when the serving team fails to score a point or commits an error, causing the receiving team to gain the serve.

The term originates from the early rules of the sport, where a team could only score a point while serving. Hence, if the serving team failed to score, the receiving team would earn the right to serve.

A side out marks a pivotal moment in a game, shifting the momentum and allowing the previously receiving team to take control of the play by serving and aiming to score points themselves.

It represents a strategic opportunity for the receiving team to capitalize on the momentum shift and gain an advantage in the match.

The team that has just won the point will now have an opportunity to serve and continue their rally until they lose the point or are called for a violation.

This term is used in all levels of volleyball play, from recreational to professional.

How Do You Win Points In Volleyball?

Scoring in volleyball is achieved through successful plays that result in the ball hitting the ground within the opponent's court boundaries.

Each rally begins with a serve, and points are scored when a team manages to ground the ball on the opposing side, following the rules and regulations of the game.

To earn a point, the ball must touch the opposing team's court floor within the boundary lines, or if the opponent commits a fault, such as hitting the ball out of bounds, failing to return the ball within three touches, or making contact with the net during play.

Points are not awarded when the ball hits the ground outside the court's lines, touches the antenna, or if a team commits a fault.

Successful scoring requires strategic plays, precise ball placement, effective teamwork, and tactical execution of skills like spiking, blocking, setting, and serving to outmaneuver the opposing team and ultimately win points.

To win in volleyball, your team must be the first to reach 25 points with at least a two-point lead over your opponent.

You can also win if your opponent commits an error or reaches their limit on errors (which can vary depending on the level of play).

Each time your team scores a point, they will have an opportunity to serve again until they are called for an error or lose the rally.

Photo by Ildar Garifullin / Unsplash

What Are The Basic Rules Of Volleyball?

The basic rules of volleyball are fairly simple: each team has six players (three attackers and three defenders) who stand on opposite sides of a net that divides them into two halves.

Players must use their arms only (no kicking allowed!) to pass, set, and spike (throw) the ball over the net; each team gets three touches per rally before sending it back over; and points are scored when your opponents commit an error or fail to return the ball over the net on their third attempt.

It's important to note that there are other rules governing things like substitutions, timeouts, penalties, etc., but those aren't as essential for understanding side-outs as knowing how points are scored and how rallies work.

Some Final Thoughts

Now that you know what side-outs mean in volleyball, you'll be able to follow games with ease!

Understanding how points are won in volleyball is key—once you know that teams score by winning rallies and gaining control of serves after winning them, everything else will make more sense.

So don't worry if you don't understand every detail right away—just keep these basics in mind while watching games or playing yourself and soon enough you'll be shouting "side out!" along with everyone else!


What is a side out in volleyball?

A side out in volleyball occurs when the serving team fails to score a point, leading to the opposing team gaining the serve.

How is a side out achieved in volleyball?

A side out is achieved when the serving team commits a fault or fails to score a point, resulting in the opposing team gaining the right to serve.

Why is a side out important in volleyball?

It's important because it grants the receiving team an opportunity to serve and score points, thus potentially shifting the momentum in their favor.

What happens after a side out in volleyball?

After a side out, the receiving team gains the right to serve, starting their opportunity to score points and change the course of the game.

Does a side out result in a point for the opposing team?

No, a side out does not result in a point for the opposing team. It simply grants them the chance to serve.

When did the concept of a side out originate in volleyball?

The concept of a side out in volleyball originated in the early rules of the sport when a team could only score while serving.

Can a team win a game through side outs alone?

No, a team cannot win a game through side outs alone. Points are scored through successful plays, not just through gaining the serve.

Is a side out common in volleyball games?

Side outs are relatively common in volleyball games as teams frequently switch possession based on successful and unsuccessful serves.

Can a team call a timeout after experiencing a side out?

Yes, a team can call a timeout after a side out to regroup, strategize, and break the momentum of the opposing team.

Does the term "side out" have any variations in different volleyball cultures?

While the term "side out" is widely used, some variations exist in different volleyball cultures, but they all generally refer to the concept of a change in serving possession due to the serving team's failure to score.


Do you know what a side out means in volleyball? No, it's not some exclusive hangout spot for volleyball players. It's a term used in the game's scoring system.

With the rally scoring system, only the serving team can earn a point.

But in the side out scoring system, only the team receiving the serve can earn a point. Confused yet?

Don't worry, it's easy to understand. If the serving team hits the ball out of bounds, into the net, or if the receiving team wins the rally and gets the next serve, then it's a side out and the other team gets a chance to serve and earn a point.

So next time you're watching a volleyball game and hear the term "side out," you'll know the volleyball rules and exactly what's going on.

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