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FAQ Rules addition: Deflecting ball with hands behind net

Bonjourno, ev'rybody!  

At long last, here is the FAQ addition for that Todd H. and I have been
working on.  This is for the case where a ball is driven into the net and
an opponent places their hands in such a way as to deflect it.
If you've lost interest in this thread, hit 'n' now. :)



FAQ addition for volleyball                           vers. 1.0
Rules Section:                                                 11 July 97

Q.  Say I pass the ball a little too hard and it is about to go into
    the net.  Can a blocker on the other side of the net run up to the net
    and place his hands such that the ball hits the net into his hands and
    deflects the ball down?  Is this legal?

A.  It depends.  Whether or not this action is legal is a factor of
    which ruleset you are playing under, and whether or not the player
    contacts the net in the effort to deflect the ball.

    As is commonly known, the player should not be held at fault if the
    impact of the ball drives the net into him or her.
    However, under all of the rulesets commonly used, if a player
    initiates the contact with the net, then they should be called for a 
    net fault.

 ** USAV Rules:

    USAV Indoor 16.4.3/ Outdoor 15.3.2
    "When the ball is driven into the net and causes it to touch an
    opponent, no fault is committed."

    Tom Blue, the USAV National Rules Interpreter, has further clarified
    the issue, providing for a clearer description of the situation and
    the action which the referee should take:

    "At this point, the decision to be made by the referee is whether the
    player has committed a net violation:  i.e., did the player initiate
    the contact with the net, or did the ball force the net into the 

    Therefore, if the player is at the net with his or her hands
    in a position such that the flight of the ball forces it
    into the net and then deflected off the player's hands, then the
    play is legal.  However, if in the referee's judgement the player
    initiates the contact with the net, then the player has commmitted a
    net violation.

 ** NAGWS Rules:

    The relevant NAGWS rule is:
    9.7 Commentary - A Ball crossing vertical plane of net

    (irrelevant parts snipped for clarity)
    "_It is legal for a player to be contacted by a ball hit into
    the net by an opponent, unless the referee deems the contact to be an
    intentional effort to prevent further play._"  

    This commentary was incorporated into NAGWS rules for the 1996-97 season.
    Thus, under NAGWS, the referee must determine if this was an 
    intentional play.  This is different from USAV Rules, where the 
    official is only judging whether or not a net violation occured.

    Ann Fruechte, the NAGWS Rules Interpreter,
    offers this interpretation:

    "Commentary 9.7 sums up the NAGWS position well.  A player
    cannot intentionally touch a ball that is in the body of the net; the
    referee obviously determines intention.  The general guideline is if a
    player is positioned close to the net and is merely standing with hands
    out and the ball and net move into the hands, it is an unintentional act
    (passive); if the player makes movement with the hands toward the ball
    then it's intentional (active).  If the referee determines the act is
    intentional the proper call is net violation."

    A referee should exercise some judgement if a player puts her hands up
    to protect herself and deflects the ball.  The key concept here is that
    the official must judge whether or not the contact was intentional,
    unlike in the USAV interpretation, where a net fault is called only if
    the player initiates the net contact.

 ** FIVB Rules:

    Neill Luebke, Chairman of the Rules of the Game Commission for USAV
    and an International Referee, supplies these thoughts:

    "No organization interprets a Rule more literally than the FIVB.  Do 
    not read ANYTHING into the Rule."

    FIVB 12.3 (irrelevant parts removed): 
    "Contact with the net is a fault ... 
    When the ball is driven into the net and causes it to touch an opponent,
    no fault is committed."
    Neill adds that "nowhere does it state intent or describe a caveat for
    performing such a feat.  If it is not written, it is legal.  The FIVB
    tries very diligently to remove the referee's intent and his own
    interpretation from influencing a play."

    So, FIVB rules the same as the USAV set.  If the player places his or 
    her hands so that the ball pushes the net into them, it is a legal play,
    but if the player initiates the net contact, it is a net fault.
    Several FIVB officials from countries around the world concur.

    Rainer Perske (GER) gives these observations:

    "If the player on the other side makes any movement towards the ball
    while the ball is already touching the net, the player is _actively_ 
    going into the net. Net Fault.

    If the player on the other side stops any movement towards the net
    before the ball begins touching the net, the player is _passive_.
    No Fault, no misbehaviour, even if he did so intentionally."

    Christian Perrier (FRA) adds:

    "The ref has here to decide whether the contact with the net was
    caused by the ball driving the net into the player or not. Of course,
    as described [in the question above], the net hits the hands of the
    player, so there is no fault.  However, the ref may also decide that
    the net violation was due to an action of the player."

    Jeffrey Gogol (CAN) says:

    "In Canada, we have interpreted this play as legal as long as the player
    does not move their hands either forward or to the side so that the 
    _ball contacts them_ through the net.  They can set their hands in front
    of them but they cannot make a play for the ball."

 ** High School (NFSHSA, or "Federation") Rules:

    No official ruling has been received for this ruleset.  If you have
    one, please let us know!

Q.  Yeah, but is it sportsmanlike?

A.  Well, that's a question to be debated outside of the rules.  As far
    as the rules go, it's either a fault or it isn't.


    The compilers of this addition to the FAQ would like to recognize
    the following people for their contributions of wisdom and prose
    to this document:  Tom Blue, Ann Fruechte, Jeffrey Gogol, Kevin Lentin,
    Neill Luebke, Christian Perrier, Rainer Perske, and Joel Reinford.
    Excellent peer review and commentary was provided by Rob Peglar, Joel
    Reinford, and Neill Luebke.


    All of these rulesets are publically available, and can be obtained

    USAV rulebooks:   Volleyball Informational Products
                      1-800-275-8782   (8am - 5pm Mtn. Time)

                      online _information_ at:

    NAGWS rulebooks:  National Assoc. for Girls & Women in Sport
                      1900 Association Dr.  Reston, VA  22091
                      (703)-476-3400      FAX: (703)-476-9527
                      email:  NAGWS@AAHPERD.ORG

    FIVB rules:       Available online at:

This FAQ addition was compiled by
Michael Bertz ( and Todd H. (
General FAQ questions or concerns can be sent to
Tom Jack (

Michael Bertz
Georgia Institute of Technology

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