Yellow Card in Volleyball: What You Need to Know?

Micah Drews


My memory of playing against legendary volleyball coach, Arnie Ball, includes watching play being stopped so he could be escorted from the gym for waving his backside at the head referee.

It was a lot of fun.

I had never seen a penalty card really mean anything in volleyball, but it was an eye-opener.

s a result, I thought I would put our VolleyPedia resources to the test to answer the following question:

hat does a yellow card in volleyball mean and how does it affect the game? A yellow card does not constitute a sanction in volleyball. Once a yellow card is shown, your team has now reached what is known as the ‘Sanctioning Level’ in the official warning system. This phase can result in penalties ranging from loss of points to expulsion.

Volleyball is such a complex game that even someone who makes a living playing volleyball has never fully grasped the intricacies of yellow cards, red cards, and sanctions.

his post is, in my opinion, the most complete guide we have found on Card Penalties in Volleyball available freely online.

Get ready for your next altercation on the court by reading this guide.

What Is A Yellow Card In Volleyball?

Yellow Card in Volleyball

In volleyball, penalty signals are controlled by colored cards, just as in soccer.

The token system might seem simple, but in volleyball circles… No one quite understands what it means.

or heated situations, head referees keep yellow and red cards in their stand along with instructions on how to use them properly.

There can be severe penalties in volleyball. The consequences of particularly violent outbursts range from being asked to leave the court to disqualification from the tournament.

In volleyball, the process leading up to the most serious charges is generously long, since it is a gentleman’s (and lady’s) sport.

This ‘warming up’ phase still includes yellow cards.

Prior to entering the ‘Sanctioning’ phase, players or teams must pass two stages.

When is the Yellow Card Issued?

Both players and fans must understand when a yellow card is issued. Several actions can result in a yellow card, including verbal dissent and unsportsmanlike conduct. In determining the appropriateness of a warning, the referee’s discretion plays a pivotal role, emphasizing the need for consistent and fair judgment.

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What Is A Minor Misconduct In Volleyball?

There’s a whole section in the FIVB official rulebook dedicated to minor misconducts.

Generally, minor misconducts don’t result in sanctions, but they are strongly discouraged.

Referees will give the first warning by simply reminding them.

The most common example of this is volleyball.

Players will get fired up during intense play, and the referee will wrangle the captains into a private meeting.

Most of the time, these warnings are simply friendly reminders not to go overboard. According to the FIVB, the duty of a Head Referee includes this:

Sanctions are not applied to minor misconduct offenses. FIVB-Volleyball Rules 2017-2021 states that the 1st referee is responsible for preventing teams from approaching sanctioning levels.”

What Does A Yellow Card Actually Mean In Volleyball?

Yellow cards are presented as part of the minor misconduct section at stage 2.

Volleyball always has dramatic moments, but when nothing really happens, it can feel anticlimactic.

Whenever a player is given a yellow card, play will pause so that the scorer can record the incident in the score sheet.

f a player makes a mistake and gets a yellow card, don’t worry. The player will be under closer scrutiny for future outbursts. No harm will come to you or your team if you do not repeat the offense.

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What Happens After Receiving a Yellow Card?

Yellow Card in Volleyball

Players receive yellow cards when they fail to correct their behavior in order to avoid further penalties. The performance and team dynamics of players who commit repeated offenses may be negatively impacted.

How And Why Are Players Carded In Volleyball?

In volleyball, the penalty system consists of two phases:

  1. Misconduct of a Minor Nature. Furthermore,
  2. It is now time to sanction.

You may end up in either category (or perhaps both) based on your behavior.

Volleyball competitions are full of minor misconduct examples, and depending on your referee, you may or may not be called on each violation.

Here are some examples:

  • Language that is unsavory or sweary;
  • When celebrating a massive kill block, direct negative attention to your opponent (such as shouting); and
  • Intentionally or illegally delaying the game-such as requesting a substitution after the serving whistle has already blown.

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What Leads To A ‘Sanction’?

In the Sanctioning stage, more serious offenses will be dealt with.

The referee should treat these behaviors according to how seriously they should be taken:

Rude Conduct: Any action considered to be in violation of good manners or moral principles.

Offensive Conduct: Insulting, vulgar, or defamatory behavior directed toward officials. Making obscene gestures or swearing as a sign of disrespect.

Aggression: Exactly as it sounds. In this category, referees, players, or officials are physically aggressive. Behavioral threats as well as physical attacks are both possible (Kubiak might get into trouble for this).

here’s plenty of room for interpretation within the severity categories, although they make sense in terms of severity.

Who’s to say what’s an expression of aggression and what’s just a celebration that violates good manners?

It is up to the Head Referee to make this decision, according to the FIVB.

It pays to be nice before the coin toss since first referees determine sanctions and penalties.

There are no sanctions associated with these categories, however. Behaviors are described in these terms in order to place them in a certain level of sanction.

We’ll now discuss what the consequences of each of these behaviors actually look like, along with which cards will be assigned to them.

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Contrasting Yellow Card and Red Card

Yellow cards contrast with their more serious counterparts, the red cards, in order to understand the severity of offenses. When a player receives a yellow card, it serves as a warning, whereas a red card results in immediate removal from the game. Fans, coaches, and players must understand the distinction.

What Does A Red Card Mean In Volleyball?

Yellow Card in Volleyball

The red card is the symbol of what is known as a ‘penalty’ in volleyball.

Sanctions in volleyball follow a three-step process.

There are three categories of volleyball officials, I know. In the case of a penalty, the team that committed the offense immediately loses a point.

In the sanctions phase, any new offenses will be dealt with after a red card is issued to a player or coach.

As a matter of fact, you can receive the red card for the smallest offense once you are sanctioned.

In the next section, we’ll discuss which behaviors will get you in trouble, and what card you’re likely to receive.

Common Misunderstandings About Yellow Cards

There are many misconceptions surrounding yellow cards. This clarification promotes a better understanding of the rules, so that players and fans alike understand their importance in maintaining the integrity of the game.

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What is the worst that can happen?

Yellow Card in Volleyball

Volleyball sanctions levels

FIVB sanctions are as follows:

Level 1: Penalty: Loss of a point with a red card given to the offending player or coach.

Level 2: Expulsion: Expelled players or coaches are prohibited from participating in the remaining set. The coach must also move away from the bench and sit in the penalty area.

First referees hold a red and yellow card side-by-side to signal an expulsion.

Level 3: Disqualification: Disqualified players must leave the field immediately and be substituted. That’s not all. It’s required that they leave the Competition-Control Area for the remainder of the game.

It is interesting to note that disqualification can occur in a few ways.

  1. An act that falls under the category of ‘Aggressive’;
  2. Having committed two offenses related to ‘Offensive conduct’;
  3. ‘Rude conduct’ has been displayed three times in this article.

Disqualification is signaled by a Red card and a Yellow card shown separately by the first referee. It’s time to move toward the bench and exit the court area as soon as you see that one.

It is likely that Arnie Ball was shown this during the conference-play match:

He managed to sneak back into the stands without the referee’s notice, where he watched the remainder of the match.

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How Yellow Cards Shape the Volleyball Community

Yellow cards affect the volleyball community beyond individual games, affecting local and international competitions. In addition to fostering camaraderie among teams, the establishment of a global standard of fair play contributes to the positive image of the sport.

Addressing Controversies Surrounding Yellow Cards

Yellow card calls are bound to cause controversy. In order to maintain the integrity of the game and prevent controversies from overshadowing the sport, it is important to evaluate instances of disputed calls and enhance transparency in officiating.


Can a yellow card be overturned?

A yellow card is usually not rescinded once it has been issued. While the game is in progress, referees make final judgments in real-time.

How does a yellow card impact a player’s statistics?

Players are not directly affected by yellow cards, but repeated offenses may have more serious consequences.

Are there different rules for yellow cards in youth volleyball?

There are some variations in the rules and consequences of yellow cards in youth volleyball leagues, but the basic principles are the same.

Do yellow cards carry over between games?

Cards issued for yellow are usually game-specific, and their impact lasts only for the duration of the game.

Can a team appeal a yellow card decision?

The governing body can reverse yellow card decisions after a game if teams express their concerns.


Taking a deep breath and relaxing will help you or your teammates deal with yellow cards in the future. We tend to give people the benefit of the doubt since volleyball isn’t an aggressive sport.

This infographic might make things a little easier to understand if all those categories and sanctions seem confusing.

There isn’t another resource out there showing the different levels of sanctions in volleyball, which is probably the most intuitive way to understand them.

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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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