Water Volleyball Rules

General Information

The rules of water volleyball are very similar to the rules of volleyball, with the obvious exception that the players are limited by the presence of the pool water. Teams are typically made up of 4 on each side (4×4) or 6 on each side (6×6). Co-ed teams are usually comprised of 3 men and 3 women.

Each team should have a team captain. The captain is responsible for the roster of the team and making sure that rotations and substitutions happen appropriately.


The equipment needed for a game of water volleyball is quite minimal. You will need a good, waterproof water volleyball. You can have a fun casual game with a light inflatable ball, but for a serious game you will want a weighted ball that is easy to see and soft on your hands. A net is a must as well — for a casual game, a floating net will do, but a serious game will require an installed net with post anchors or weighted anchors. The ideal length of the water volleyball net is 20 – 40 feet (depending on the pool size) and the ideal height is 4 to 5 feet high out of the water. Water volleyball equipment can be purchased individually or as part of a complete set.

Game Play

Water volleyball is played as a best of out of three set of games (the winner is the first to win two games).

Coin toss should decide which team starts with the serve first.

Water volleyball is played as the first team to score either 11, 15, or 25 points. Teams should agree which length of game will work best for the teams and players. The winning team must have a 2-point lead to end the game. If the there is only 1 point separating the teams at the agreed-upon end point, then the teams will play until one team has a 2-point advantage. The teams should declare “match” or “advantage” after each serve to identify which team (if any) has the lead.

Each team should rotate clock-wise after the team wins a service (gets the serve back from the other team).

The server should call out the score before serving the ball on each service.


Points are scored in Rally Scoring, regardless of which team is serving. Every serve will result in a score, regardless of which team is serving.

A point is scored when any of the following happens:

  • A member of the opposing team double-hits the ball
  • The ball hits the water over the net and within the boundary lines on the opponent’s side
  • One player makes an illegal hit – pushing, carrying, or catching the ball
  • The ball is hit at the same time by two players on the same team
  • When a player touches the net while the ball is in play


Although an overhand serve is the most common water volleyball serve, a player may also serve from a sidearm or underhand service as long as the ball is hit (not carried) and the ball is hit above the water.

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