What Is Considered A Carry in Volleyball?

Micah Drews


A casual fan may have difficulty picking up some of volleyball’s rules since it has many different rules. In some cases, the referee makes the call so quickly that it is difficult to figure out why your team lost.

What Is Considered A Carry in Volleyball?

What Is Considered A Carry in Volleyball

The term “carry” in volleyball refers to when a player has extended contact with the ball. If the contact is not clean, quick, then it can happen during any type of hit.

There is a misconception that a carry can only be called when you’re volleying the ball, but that’s not true. Following is an example of a “carry” being called in each type of ball contact.

Carrying While A Volley

Section 9.2.2 of the FIVB Volleyball Rules prohibits catching or throwing the ball. Often, volleys and catch-and-throws can appear to be very similar. During the volleying motion, referees are trained to determine when there has been too much contact and when it has crossed the line of a “catch and throw.”

The ball should not be “possessed” by you for more than a brief period of time when you volley. The ball should be absorbed quickly by your hands and flicked back out with one continuous motion. It won’t take long for a player to get called for it when they struggle and extend that time a little.

Carrying While A Pass

Passes or underhand strikes that involve extended contact with the ball are known as lifts. Lifts and carries are both breaking the same rule, the fact that the ball should be in a clean, momentary contact.

When a player is trying to swing their arms and they don’t time it properly, this can happen. Remember, don’t swing your arms! Is that what I sounded like? If you need more power, you can use your legs to drive the pass. Your arms should create a platform, and your legs should drive the pass.

Carrying While The Attack

During an attack, players are sometimes called for a carry. Attacks are defined as hits that direct the ball toward your opponent. Players may tip, but the ball must be “clearly hit” and not “caught or thrown” when attacking (Rules Section 13.1.2).

Players who drag the ball through the air become more like throwers than tippers, hitters, or spikers. It is often possible to avoid this by being careful with how you place your hands.

 Hands under or behind the ball are more likely to be called for carries than hands overtop.

Carrying While A Save

All bets are off during a one-armed save! Desperately scrambling and diving for the ball, we’re in desperation mode. We make all kinds of errors when we lunge like this.

When you make a clean strike, regardless of how twisted around you are or how far you are going to send the ball, you’ll get the ball further, which is usually the goal.

Carrying the ball in other unusual ways

A carry on the serve may be the most unlikely call.

There is a possibility for a carry-like call when coaching or playing at a lower level with servers who hit the ball underhand. It would really be a call against throwing or releasing the ball at the service. It is not uncommon for young or novice players to forget to toss the ball and hit it while their toss hand is moving up. There is a violation here.

As the referee moves her hand palm up directly in front of her, it looks like a carry. Referees call carry calls by moving the open palm from waist height to chest height, while not tossing fouls are simply outstretched arms.

Coaches who have beginners on their team should focus on the mechanics of the toss to avoid penalties like these. The player should work hard on the overhand serve as soon as he/she is capable. It is sometimes impossible to avoid a catch violation. When appropriately instructed, practiced, and focused, violations can be limited.

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Different Types Of Carries In Volleyball

What Is Considered A Carry in Volleyball

A carry in volleyball occurs when a player guides the ball with their hand or fingers instead of hitting it cleanly. When a player is not confident in their ability to hit or tries to control the ball too much, this can happen.

In volleyball, there are several types of carries, including:

Finger tip carry

Players use their fingers to guide the ball instead of hitting it cleanly. Among inexperienced players, this is a common mistake.


Using the palm of your hand to guide the ball instead of hitting it cleanly. Usually seen in more experienced players, this is an advanced form of a carry.

Double hit

When a player hits the ball twice in succession, rather than once. The opposing team receives a point for this violation.

Net carry

When a player guides the ball with the net rather than hitting it cleanly. As a result of this violation, the opposing team gains a point.


It occurs when a player rolls the ball rather than hitting it cleanly. The opposing team receives a point for this violation.

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How Can You Tell The Call Was “A Carry?”

What Is Considered A Carry in Volleyball

Multiple faults or rules violations may be signaled by the referee at the same time in volleyball. Carry faults are usually signaled the same as lift faults, but the official name is “catch fault.”

As soon as the whistle is blown, the referee extends his or her arm toward the floor, palm upward, then bends the elbow and raises his or her hand.

For lifts and carries, the fault is usually the same.

During an attack, the referee may signal an “attack hit fault” if they determine that the contact is a carry. The sign will appear as a slow-motion spike.

It appears odd to do the hand motion pictured above when the player looks like they are spiking or tipping, but referees make this mistake frequently. If a “catch” violation occurs, the correct signal is the one shown above.

Several hits at once

Multiple players making contact in a split-second or all making contact at once are common circumstances for players to be called for a carry. It can be difficult to determine if the hits were legal because of the speed and/or confusion.

All types of hits are allowed, but they must be simultaneous. It must be hit with two hands simultaneously, with the same motion. It is legal to hit the ball with another player (or even three players) at the same time, but it will count as multiple hits (Rules Section

Is A Power Tip A Carry?

Volleyball rules are pretty straightforward and clear. The written list of legal and illegal hits does not distinguish between tips and power tips.

Power tips in volleyball are attacks that fall somewhere between tips and spikes. There is a forward and downward dumping motion, but usually, it is softer than a traditional spike strike.

Does it qualify as a carry or is it legal? Referees decide that. Depending on how you interpret the rules, some calls can be very subjective.

Most refs will let one or two questionable “power tips” pass, but if the same hitter is doing it repeatedly, they may start calling it a carry. As a human, if you see something repeated a few times and you are on the lookout for it, you probably become more picky.

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Can You Carry The Ball During A Serve?

Underhand serving is common in younger age groups, so you might hear a carry call during the serve. It is sometimes possible for servers to move their hand that is holding the ball in order to use their striking hand as more of an underhand throw, even though the referee might not call it a carry exactly.

Players who struggle with this should be helped to work on the proper mechanics. Striking the ball, delivering a punch or pop contact to it will yield much greater success than dragging it.

Technically, it’s “Ball not tossed or released at the service hit.” The referee will make the “catch” sign, but instead of bending at the elbow, they’ll keep their arm straight.


What happens if a player is called for a carrying violation in volleyball?

The offending team loses the serve when it commits a carrying violation, which results in a point being awarded to the opponent.

Are carrying rules different in beach volleyball compared to indoor volleyball?

Even though the fundamental principles are similar, the carrying rules may vary between different formats.

Can carrying violations be challenged using video replay?

It depends on the rules of the volleyball competition whether video replay can be used to challenge carrying violations.

How often do carrying controversies impact the outcome of volleyball matches?

In high-stakes matches, carrying controversies can have a significant impact on the outcome.

What is the role of coaches in preventing carrying violations among their players?

Coaching is crucial to teaching players proper ball-handling techniques and fostering a culture of clean play.


To conclude, volleyball players, coaches, and fans must understand what is considered a carry. This not only enhances appreciation of the sport, but also promotes fair and competitive play. As long as the volleyball community acknowledges the historical context, dispels misconceptions, and adapts to evolving rules, the game can thrive and be enjoyed for years to come.

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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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