Can You Touch the Net in Volleyball? [Official Rules]

Micah Drews


Getting your way around that large two-post netting strip can be challenging if you’re new to volleyball.

Being in the middle of something is hard enough, but what happens when you get too close?

Can you touch the net in volleyball? Whenever you are playing the ball, you should avoid touching the net anywhere between the two antennas.

Touching the net posts and pads has the same legal status as touching the net between the antennae and net posts, as long as it doesn’t interfere with play.

It may seem simple enough, but we’ll explore some specific situations in this post where the net touch guidelines might seem unclear.
Here’s what we’ll learn:

  1. Introducing this rule;
  2. How the previous rulings were made (and in which countries/competitions); and
  3. There are situations where it is okay to touch the net.

In addition, we will address some basic questions, such as ‘What is the name of the motion when you touch the net in volleyball? ’ As well as specific cases, such as ‘Can your hair touch the net in volleyball?’

First, let’s go over what the current ruling is and when it was first introduced.

Can You Touch The Net In Volleyball?

Can You Touch the Net in Volleyball

It is a fault if a player contacts the net between antennae when playing the ball, according to the FIVB 2017-2020 Rule book.
International tournaments aren’t the only ones that do that. As far as domestic and local rulings are concerned, the USAV uses the same wording:
Fortunately (and it doesn’t always work that way!).

There are two net posts or poles between which the net is set up, as you are well aware. For now, we are only concerned with touching it, not the height of the net or the distance between poles.

It is the thin white and red sticks that mark the playing area that are called antennae. For a point to continue, the ball must travel between these antennae, just as many volleyball actions do. Touching the net is included.

Approximately 25.5 feet, or 9 meters, is the distance between antennae.

In other words, it is technically permissible to touch the net in the space that fills the space between the net post and the antennae.

In practice, things don’t always work out like this, as we’ll discuss later.

You can’t go wrong with these terms if you’re wondering when a volleyball player touches the net:

  1. Net violation; and/or
  2. Net touch.

It’s not uncommon for volleyball rule makers to use ‘net touch’ as the standard for these things.

The net can’t be touched where we can’t reach it. How about that?

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Net violations

A fast-paced game can make net calls confusing, so Brennan clarifies some misconceptions about legal and illegal plays:

  • During ball contact, touching the net is legal.
  • It is legal to hit the net while turning away after playing the ball.
  • Contact between hair and the net is legal. Jerseys and shoes contacting the net are illegal.

What Do They Mean By ‘In The Action Of Playing The Ball’?

The rule books differ slightly here. As in the FIVB rulebook, the main chunk is the same: ‘The action of playing the ball includes (among others) taking off, hitting (or attempting to hit) and landing safely, ready for another action.’

However, the USAV goes on to add: ‘Any player close to the ball during play, and who is himself/herself engaged in the play, is considered part of the action.’ – USAV Domestic Rules and Interpretations.

It’s a good idea to know the official wording, even if it’s likely both referees will interpret it the same way (especially if you ever want to dispute the call!).

As an example, here are a few:

  • Setting the ball by jumping;
  • Following through on your spike after attacking the ball;
  • When a block move touches the net’s top;
  • When you jump up to block or spike, you touch the bottom of the net;
  • In the process of recovering a ball close to the net, you may touch any part of the net; and
  • When a spike, block, or set lands in the net before the rally has ended.

In addition to these examples, there are several others you should keep an eye out for.

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Can Your Hair Touch The Net In Volleyball?

A player’s hair or jersey touching the net during play is not considered a violation by FIVB or NCAA rules, but it is generally believed that referees won’t call that a violation.

It should not be possible to actually impact the game regardless of how hard your hair or clothing hits the net.

The net will be considered a violation if your hair gets caught in it and moves around as a result – although I have never personally seen this happen.

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When Can’t You Touch The Net In Volleyball?

When playing the ball, you can’t touch the net between the antennae – this includes digs, sets, spikes, and blocks, as well as your jump takeoff or landing.

It will also be considered a violation if you contact the net outside of the antennas, if you use the net, ropes, referee stand, or post for support.

There is also an addendum here by USAV, which states,

Players who are close to the ball as it is played, and who are also trying to play the ball, are considered in the play, even if they never make contact with it.

USA Volleyball Rulebook

In most cases, this happens when two blockers attempt to swat the ball, but one makes successful contact with it while the other misses and contacts the net instead.

A fault has been committed here.

The Old Net Touch Rules In Volleyball

Can You Touch the Net in Volleyball

When we look back at the rule book from 2010, we see something completely different:
Unless it interferes with play, a player’s contact with the net is not a fault. – FIVB 2010.
The head referee decided if a player’s touch on the net interfered with play every time he touched it.

Although referees had a wide range of interpretations, they generally followed the following guidelines:

  1. Blocking or hitting actions that involve any blatant pulling or touching of the net; and
  2. In the event that a player lands violently in the net (which is just dangerous, if not specifically distracting).

A number of experiments were conducted with net touch rules on different parts of the net prior to the rule change from ‘interfering with play’ to ‘in the action of playing the ball’.

In the past, the net rules included specifications such as: “Touching the top of the net is not allowed, but touching the rest of the net is acceptable.”

That would certainly cause controversy.

But ref, it was at the bottom of the net? ?! The net tape hangs from the top of the net.

Can you touch the top of the net? How about the bottom? Can you tell me what the fifth square from the left looks like? It’s six squares high.

It is understandable that you are confused.
The current ruling is most straightforward when compared to the old rules. Basically, it says:

Don’t touch the net, and everything will be fine. Referees in modern volleyball.
All of us can get behind this philosophy. Since these changes were only made last year (2014), let’s get you guys in on the action:

Is there anything else you would like to see changed about this rule? Will the net post be included in the next update as an out-of-bounds area? Would they decide to penalize net violations even if players are not ‘actively playing the ball’?

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When Is It Okay To Touch The Net In Volleyball?

Can You Touch the Net in Volleyball

It is not a violation of the rules if the ball touches an opponent when it is driven into the net.’ – FIVB Rule book 2017-2020.

In terms of net touches, there is a common question from players: ‘What happens if the net bumps into you? As you might expect, the answer is (thankfully) yes. Play continues, and there is no fault.

The FIVB, however, stipulates that touching the net is acceptable under certain circumstances.

If you brush against the net while setting up to block the ball on the other side of the net, that would be fine.

It’s fine as long as you don’t interfere with the game.

Interfering with an opponent is a vague concept in and of itself.

Is it possible that you might distract your opponent by touching the net?

Although it may seem like a minor point, it could be next on the list of things to change in the rule. The game will ultimately move toward simpler rules and less confusion, right? We will have to see how long this point of confusion survives since it is the only unnecessary point of confusion left.

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Can You Touch The Net In Beach Volleyball?

Can You Touch The Net In Beach Volleyball

Volley-Pedia tends to focus on the indoor game, but if any of you are in the beach community, I’d like to give you a shout-out.

This is mostly due to the fact that it’s so simple in this case.

Beach volleyball rules are different from indoor volleyball rules, but this one is a piece of cake:

Both indoor and beach volleyball have the same net touch rules.

Here is exactly what the FIVB Beach Volleyball Rules book 2017-2020 says: “Players should not make contact with the net during ball play when they are between their antennae.” In addition to taking off, hitting (or attempting), and landing safely, the players play the ball. And yes, the USAV wants to add its own exception to this rule.

Regardless of whether contact is made with the ball, a player who is close to it and actively playing it is considered to be playing it. – USAV Beach Volleyball Rules and Interpretations 2017-19.

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What Happens If You Touch The Net In Volleyball?

Can You Touch the Net in Volleyball

A team that touches the net against the rules will receive a point if a referee calls a net touch violation.

When you and someone on the other side of the net illegally touch the net simultaneously, what happens? A replay will be requested in this case by the ref.

Why We Have Net Violations In Volleyball

These net touch rules are in place for two primary reasons: safety and fairness.

It can be a pretty dangerous situation for young volleyballers who lack body control to jump too close to the net.

The phrase “during an action of playing the ball” includes jumping actions that require a safe landing without contacting the net in order to prevent unsafe jumping.

Consequently, it’s still considered a net touch violation if you jump, spike the ball, crosses the net before you land, and then touch the net as you are landing, even though the ball crossed the net before you landed.

Another reason pertains to fairness, as I mentioned earlier.

While you’re hitting the ball, you’re giving yourself an unfair advantage if you jump to spike the ball.

There has now become a blanket rule that all net touches are either unsafe or create unfair advantages because it can often be difficult to determine whether a touch actually created an advantage.


Playing the ball involves keeping your hands off the net while you touch the net.

Additionally, so long as it does not interfere with the play, you are allowed to touch the net if you are not involved in the play.

When spiking, avoid touching the net at all times, and ensure you are able to land safely without catching yourself in it!


It is important to note that all points mentioned in the NCAA and FIVB rules are agreed upon.

NCAA and FIVB rulebooks can be downloaded here.

About Micah Drews

After playing volleyball at an international level for several years, I now work out and write for Volleyball Blaze. Creating unique and insightful perspectives through my experience and knowledge is one of my top priorities.

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