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Rules: Block vs. Attack on tight overpass to net (was: Please, help)

Tom, National and FIVB officials..I need some input.  See below.

<pre> writes:
> If somebody wants to help me, please, answer the following questions
> at:
> 1) What's the hight of the net for men? I guess 245, but am not
>    sure. Some say 243.

From the Frequently Asked questions list at

   3.  How high is the net?    
        FIVB, USAV, CBVA, WPVA     Net height for Men Co-ed Mixed 6 
        2.43 meters or  7'11-5/8"

> 2) If your side attacks and the pass is bad and goes over the net and you 
>    smash it on side of opponent, is it allowed?
>               /--
>           you/   -
>         hand/   (   )
>   your side/   |    -            opposite side
>           /    |   ball
>                |  
>               net
>    To my opinion, it's your 3rd touch, but on the other hand you shouldn't
>    play on the other side (except blocks).

Your ASCII art got munged with the use of tabs.  I attempted to fix it
above.  :-) The answer to your particular diagram is easy--if (as your
diagram suggests) the contact with the ball occurs while the ball is
in the plane of the net, then it's legal.  However, your written
description hints at the more interesting situation of a block/attack
when the ball has not yet broken into the plane above the net.

The relevant FIVB rules are here  (or the rules attached way below):

If the contact is made while the ball is still completely on the
bad-passing team's side of the net then legality is based on the
official's judgement of

        a) whether the "smash" is considered a block or an
        b) whether any member of the receiving team could have made a
           play on the ball.

> 3) The other team attacks, the pass is very close to the net and you
>    don't want to wait for smashing and touch this ball (still on the
>    other side).  Is it allowed? (I quess that it's a normal block,
>    but I don't know, how the BLOCK is defined in the rules. Some
>    say, that is not a block, for block is just when attacker
>    smashes.)

I'm not sure I'm understanding this question.  I think it boils down
to the same issues, though.

Question a) is the contact within the opponent's space a block or an attack

        If the official judges it as an attack, then it's an illegal
        attack in opponent's playing space.

        Else (ref judges the contact in the opponent's space as a block)
Question b) did the block interfere with an opponent's attempt to play
            the ball?  In other words, was anyone of the opponent's
            team close enough to make a play of the ball had it not
            been blocked.  

            If the opponent could have made a play, then it's an
            illegal block in the opponent's space.  If they could not
            have made a play or it was their third hit, then the block
            would be legal.

Tom, et. al,

I'd interested in any further guidance on the determination of block
versus attack in this situation.  In previous discussions in this
forum, the most experienced officials have voiced that an out and out
one handed hammer of the ball would be considered an attack hit, while
a 2-handed blocking motion would be considered a block.  

In my view, a strict reading of the rules would mitigate in favor of
calling both of these scenarios "blocks," but I've been dissuaded from
this view by Tom Blue, USAV rules interpretter (see below).

Has anything changed on this issue in the past year?  I've attached a
1997 email exchange with Tom Blue on this issue for reference.

>_rom: <>
>Cc: Todd H <>, Jim Coleman <>,
>        Michael David Bertz <>,
>        Russ Rose <>
>Subject: Rule Interpretation: Block v. Attack
>Date: Tue, 5 Aug 1997 13:49:46 -0500 (CDT)
>In-Reply-To: <>
>This is an excellent and extremely lucid presentation of the issue I
>raised some months ago as a result of a discussion on the
> internet newsgroup.  I'm happy to see that it is
>being given careful consideration.  I agree that the results of this
>interpretation could have a substantial effect on the game and that
>many officials subjectively differentiate between block and attack
>despite the current wording of the rules.
>Thanks for pursuing this further.
>Best Regards,
>Todd H
>USAV Regional Referee
>Great Lakes Region
>In a previous  previous episode, Tom Blue wrote:
>>Several months ago I received inquiries regarding the "Block v.
>>Attack" issue from several volleyball participants.  I promised I
>>would make inquiries with those who interpret volleyball rules in the
>>various arenas of volleyball in the USA and offer an interpretation.
>>     At this point, the issue has been presented to rules
>>     interpreters >for FIVB, NAGWS and National Federation rules, but
>>     the opportunity for those people to carry the question to their
>>     rule making bodies has >not occurred.  Nevertheless, the
>>     question remains and some confusion exists within the sport as
>>     to which way to presently interpret >actions falling within the
>>     context of the issue.
>>The final interpretation of this question will affect the play of the
>>game in a major way and, accordingly, is not one which should be made
>>in haste.
>>     The issue arises as follows: The USA Volleyball definition of a
>>block (taken almost verbatim from the FIVB rules): "Blocking is the
>>action that deflects the ball coming from the opponent by (a)
>>player(s) close to the net reaching higher than the net." Given that
>>definition, why should the manner in which a ball coming from the
>>opponents is contacted matter? Logically speaking, a blocker could
>>use a passive motion with hand(s) above the height of the net to
>>deflect the ball or an active swing of the arm contacting the ball
>>with one hand to deflect and the result is a blocked ball.
>>     However, in the present state of volleyball play and rules
>>     interpretation, there is a differentiation in the minds of
>>     players, referees, coaches and spectators between an attack
>>     (active swing of the arm with contact by one hand) and a block
>>     (relatively passive placement of the hands and arms in the path
>>     of the ball coming through the crossing space). At this time,
>>     even if the ball is coming from the opponent's side, it is
>>     considered an attack if the player aggressively hits the ball
>>     back.
>>     Obviously, the main result of this proposed change is permitting
>>     a much more aggressive contact of the ball coming from the
>>     opponent, giving the blocking team an advantage. Moreover, if
>>     the interpretation of the action of actively swinging at a ball
>>     coming from the opponents is changed from "attack" to "block,"
>>     several sub-issues arise, for instance:
>>          1. In the situation where a player swings at a ball coming
>>             through the crossing space and hits the ball into the
>>             net, that player would now be permitted to retrieve the
>>             ball from the net for the team's first team contact.
>>          2. Under Mixed-Six rules, a back-row male blocker (legal
>>             when only one male is in the front row) would be
>>             permitted a much more aggressive return of the ball.
>>     If these changes are to be permitted, I maintain that there must
>>     be first a very active and thorough consideration of the changes
>>     by all rule-making bodies in the USA and agreement that this is
>>     the way we want to play the sport.
>>     Accordingly, until the rules interpreters have the opportunity
>>     to carry the question to the Rules Committees, there will be no
>>     resolution of the question and the interpretation of the action
>>     will remain as it is, that is: The first referee must make a
>>     determination on the manner in which the contact of a ball
>>     coming from the opponents is made and differentiate between a
>>     relatively passive "block" and a relatively aggressive "attack."
>>     Tom Blue            National Rules Interpreter
>>     USA Volleyball


FIVB rules from

15.1.1 Blocking is the action of players close to the net to intercept
       the ball coming from the opponents by reaching higher than the
       top of the net.

In blocking, the player may place his/her hands and arms beyond the
net provided that this action does not interfere with the opponents'
play. Thus, it is not permitted to touch the ball beyond the net until
an opponent has executed an attack-hit.

14.1.1 All actions which direct the ball towards the opponents, with
       the exception of service and block, are considered as

14.1.2 During an attack-hit, tipping is permitted if the contact is
       clean and the ball is not accompanied by the hand.

14.1.3 An attack-hit is completed the moment the ball completely
       crosses the vertical plane of the net or is touched by an

14.2.1 A front-row player may complete an attack-hit at any height,
       provided that the contact with the ball has been made within
       the player's own playing space (except Rule 14.2.4).

14.2.2 A back-row player may complete an attack-hit at any height from
       behind the front zone:

a) at his/her take-off, the player's foot(feet) must neither have
   touched nor crossed over the attack-line;

b) after his/her hit, the player may land within the front zone (Rule

14.2.3 A back-row player may also complete an attack-hit from the
       front zone, if at the moment of the contact any part of the
       ball is below the top of the net (Diagram 7).

14.2.4 No player is permitted to complete an attack-hit on the
       opponents' service, when the ball is in the front zone and
       entirely higher than the top of the net.

a) A player hits the ball within the playing space of the opposing
   team (Rule 14.2.1).

                  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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