What Is A Side Out In Volleyball? [Sideout Mean]

Micah Drews


Many people enjoy playing and watching volleyball because it is a fast-paced and exciting sport. You might have heard the term “side out” and wondered what it meant if you’re new to the game. This article explores what is a side out in volleyball, its significance, and its impact.

What Does Sideout Mean in Volleyball?

What Is A Side Out In Volleyball

What does sideout in volleyball mean? Sideout is a term used to describe an old volleyball scoring system that hasn’t been used since 1999. Currently, it is defined as ‘any point won by a team when the opponent serves’… but really, there’s more to it than that.

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What Does ‘Sideout’ Actually Mean?

We can make more sense of things using the old scoring system.

*What is sideout scoring in volleyball? A team had to serve to score a point in the old ‘sideout’ scoring system.
Take a look at it this way:

The old scoring system prevented you from scoring while the opponent served.

Serving teams were the only ones to score points. It may be necessary to serve an ace in that case. There’s a possibility that it’s a monster block.

The rally may be ended by a pin hitter crushing a high ball down the line after an incredible defensive play.
In any case, you would never be able to score a point in the old method of receiving a serve, setting the middle, and bouncing the ball.

However, things like that still happen. It happens all the time. When your opponent is serving, you might argue that winning the rally is even more important.

There was a problem teams had to deal with:

How can I convince my team to win the rally, knowing that we can’t score any points? ’

For instance, saying:

‘This point,’ OR

‘Let’s score here’ as well as

‘Let’s stop them from scoring while also giving us the chance to score the next point,’ is simply a little too complicated for many people.

Thus, it was named ‘Let’s sideout’.

The point doesn’t get scored, but you get a chance to be the offensive team.

The problem has been solved.

It’s awkward, isn’t it?

It is a little awkward to look at this ‘sideout’ artefact when you consider how rally scoring works today (where all rallies are awarded to the winning team regardless of whether they serve or not).

Regardless of whether we are serving or not, we can still say: ‘This point,’ and ‘Let’s score here.’

Also, the sideout means that we can end the match on match point-which is how most games end, and it’s a huge relief if you’re up 24-23.

That’s not so fast.

There are a few benefits to ‘sideout’ before we get too down on it.

Firstly, it provides a ready-to-use language everyone understands and can use as shorthand for another awkward phrase: “let’s score the point on serve receive”.

As an alternative, we can simply use the term ‘sideout’ and everyone is pretty much aware of what’s going on–even if it no longer makes much sense.

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How Does a Side Out Occur?

What Is A Side Out In Volleyball

There are several situations that can lead to a side out:

  • Serve by the serving team lands out of bounds.
  • Serve by the serving team hits the net and does not cross.
  • Serving team members step on or over the service line, committing a foot fault.
  • Defending and returning the ball successfully results in a rally victory for the receiving team.

How Do People Describe Sideouts in Today’s Volleyball?

There are a few different uses for sideout today.

  1. In the form of a verb: ‘Let’s sideout this point.’;
  2. In the form of a noun (object): ‘We just need one sideout.’; AND

It can be a little confusing if you are new to volleyball. Never fear: You can understand ‘sideout’ by following one simple rule.

If the other team serves, your team must sideout and needs to do so.

What is Rally Scoring in Volleyball?

Today, most forms of volleyball follow the rally scoring system. Whenever the referee blows their whistle to begin the rally, one team scores (unless a replay is requested).

Matches in volleyball are easier to manage when rally scoring is used. When the sideout system was used, matches could go on for ever and ever.

Fans of volleyball were upset about this–who wants to sit around for 6 hours to watch volleyball? Perhaps you do, but the general public switched off after the first set.

Volleyball matches can be predicted much better with the rally scoring system. That’s really helpful. Consider your own experience: Has your court ever gone way over time during a tournament before yours? Originally, your match was scheduled for 1 p.m., but you aren’t due to play until 2 pm now that the women’s match went to a tiebreaker.

The sideout scoring was similar but more intense.

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Side Out vs. Rally Scoring

As volleyball has evolved over the years, its scoring system has evolved as well. Before the advent of side out scoring, volleyball was exclusively played with side out scoring. In modern volleyball, rally scoring is often used. The rally scoring system determines whether points are scored on each rally, regardless of who serves. Fast-paced and competitive gameplay has resulted from this change.

Does it take more effort to score sideout or while serving?

The biggest advantage teams should have as they work their way up the volleyball ladder is in sideouts. Because technically you should be the one to attack first.

It’s important to note, however, that serving can definitely be an advantage if your team has an extremely strong server.
In high-level volleyball, teams typically aim to score 60% or more in sideouts (with some teams scoring much better than that). Thus, teams would score on serve only 40% of the time or less.

This is important to keep in mind if you are the team captain and have to make a decision at the coin toss. You might not be able to justify your decision to Coach with this stat alone (and there is definitely an argument for serving first), but if you’ve got nothing else, at least you can use it to justify your choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens after a side out in volleyball? 

The receiving team has the opportunity to score points after a side out.

Can a side out lead to a team’s victory in a game? 

Getting a side out can be crucial for a team to win a game since it allows them to score points.

Is rally scoring or side-out scoring more common in modern volleyball? 

The rally scoring system is now more commonly used by both amateurs and professionals in volleyball.

What is the significance of a strong serve in avoiding side outs? 

The receiving team may be under pressure from a strong serve, making it harder for them to return the ball effectively and gain a side out.

Do all volleyball games use side out or rally scoring? 

In some tournaments and leagues, side out scoring is not used; it is determined by the specific rules and regulations.


Prior to 1999, sideout was basically the same term, but it now has a slightly different meaning. In addition to providing your team with a point, it allows them to serve.

How do you feel about this? Would the sideout system have been better? Is rally scoring a positive change in the game?

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below.

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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