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Rules: carry, lift, ball handling question

I received this question via email this past week.  I thought I'd pass
on my response for any interested parties.  As always, constructive
feedback is welcome.


From tdh Sun Apr 19 12:42:41 -0500 1998
> From: Todd <>
Date: 19 Apr 1998 12:09:02 -0500
Subject: carrying question
Lines: 131
X-Gnus-Article-Number: 58   Sun Apr 19 13:10:02 1998

In our previous episode, K. wrote:
>i have a problem with people using open palms to make contact with the 
>ball. it appears to be a carry a lot of the time. i am referring to the 
>hands being either below the waist or around the waist area with an open 
>palm and fingers at impact. i play in a church league which has many 
>unexperienced players and it is hard for them to understand many of the 
>rules and it is also hard to convey them to the people properly. i have 
>read the rules that you have posted on a "carry" but i can't seem to 
>locate just the right words one way or another. i understand that the 
>ball should not be carried or thrown. 

You are correct, contact with an open hand upwards from the waist is
often (but not always) a fault, especially among inexperienced

Here's all that the rulebook says about ball contact:

1997-98 USA Volleyball Indoor Rules:
   14.4 Characteristics of the hit
   14.4.1  The ball may touch any part of the body.
   14.4.2 The ball must be hit, not caught or thrown.  It can rebound in
   any direction.
   14.4.3 The ball may touch various parts of the body, provided that the
   contacts take place simultaneously.  EXCEPTIONS:
  During blocking, consecutive contacts may occur by
           one or more blockers provided the contacts occur during one 
  During the first hit of the team (not blocking), the
           ball may contact various parts of the body consecutively,
           provided that the contacts occur during one action.
          Commentary The first hit of the team includes
                   reception: (a) of the serve; (b) of an attack hit
                   by the opponent [this may be a soft or hard
                   attack-hit]; (c) of a ball blocked by one's own 
                   team and (d) of a ball blocked by the opponents.
                   During the team's first hit successive contacts
                   with various parts of the player's body are permitted
                   in a single action of playing the ball.  These
                   include contacts involving "finger-action" on the ball 
                   and contact with the foot.  The ball, however, 
                   may not be caught and/or thrown.


>can we define a "carry" or  "contact" a little more. 
>if i am to make contact with the ball with two  open hands side by
>side, would this be considered a carry?

Such generalizations on particular methods of contact are discouraged
by USA Volleyball.  In training officials, they stress that the
contact itself is all that should be judged.  "We don't call ugly" is
a phrase that is in common use today.  Judgement should be based on
the legality of the contact rather than form.  

Categorizing certains forms of contact as illegal is something that's
prevalent among untrained or inexperienced officials.  For instance,
some recreational officials will blow their whistle anytime someone
contacts the ball underhand near their waist just after a
block--regardless of whether they actually saw the contact, or whether
the ball was popped up cleanly.

That being said, contact with 2 open hands side by side below the
waist can present two _potential_ faults: 

	1) if the play was on the 2nd or 3rd team hit, this _could_
	   be a double contact if the hands are not joined together.  Rule above explains why certain multiple contacts are legal
	   on the first team hit.

	2) an open palm can easily lend itself to a carry.  As you see the
	   contact, does the ball visibly come to rest in the hand, or
	   does it rebound somewhat crisply off a stiff palm?  The
	   likelihood of a carry increases if the fingers of the open palm
	   are formed around the ball.  If the fingers are pulled back,
	   and the palm stiffened, however, it's easier to pop the ball up
	   cleanly without carrying it.  

> one open hand?

This would remove problem #1 in the previous paragraph.  You would
have to judge the contact based on #2 alone.

>i understand that if the person lifts the ball this would be 
>considered a carry but if the ball pops off the open hands, what is
>this  considered to be?

If the ball pops off the open hand, it's legal, albeit ugly.

This is a difficult area to develop.  Every official calls ball
handling a little differently.  USA Volleyball recognizes this, and
teaches us to strive for consistency.  In games without officials, you
suddenly have 12 different opinions of proper ball handling on the
court!  It's also worth noting that the rules have been evolving to
give the defense more latitude in keeping the ball in play.

I have refereed and played in C-level recreational leagues in the
past, and will agree that consistently sloppy play can be frustrating.
As a referee, you don't want to have your whistle decide every point
when the participants are there for recreation.  As a player with good
skills, you don't like to see the other team gain an unfair advantage
by using illegal tactics to compensate for a lack of skill.  If your
attempts to sensitize the masses to these ball handling rules fail,
your only recourse is to seek out a higher level of play.

Best Regards,
                  Todd H.
USAV Regional Referee, Great Lakes Region, Palatine, IL
Todd's Volleyball Referee Page
"So you're a Ref and an engineer? Oh that explains it...."

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