Substitution In Volleyball: Basics, Rules, Types

Substitutions in Volleyball and its rules are strategic maneuvers that involve replacing a player on the court with a teammate from the bench.

The primary goals of substitutions are to maintain player stamina, capitalize on specific skills, and adapt to the game’s ever-changing dynamics.

Teamwork, strategy, and precision are needed in volleyball’s quick speed. The key to the game is player substitutions. Team effectiveness and competitiveness depend on knowing when and how to substitute.

This guide explains volleyball substitution rules.

Substitution rules In Volleyball

Basics of Volleyball Substitutions

Understanding the Role of Substitutions

Volleyball substitutions are strategic maneuvers that involve replacing a player on the court with a teammate from the bench. The primary goals of substitutions are to maintain player stamina, capitalize on specific skills, and adapt to the game’s ever-changing dynamics.

Unlike other sports, volleyball allows for unlimited substitutions throughout a match, making it crucial for coaches to make informed decisions.

Key Elements of a Substitution

Before we explore the rules, let’s understand the key elements of a substitution. In volleyball, a substitution is a strategic player switch made during a stoppage in play. Key elements of a substitution include:

Sr NoKey ElementDescription
1Request by CoachA substitution typically begins with the coach signaling a desire for a player substitution. Coaches communicate with referees to initiate the process.
2Player NotificationThe player entering the game must be notified, and the substituted player should leave the court promptly. The substitutions are often planned and communicated during team huddles.
3Referee ApprovalThe referee must be aware of the substitution request and approve it before allowing the new player to enter the court. This ensures adherence to substitution rules.
4Positional IntegrityThe substituted player must leave the court from the correct position, and the entering player must take the same position. This maintains the positional integrity of the team.
5Record KeepingReferees or scorekeepers document substitutions to track player rotations and ensure compliance with substitution rules, such as the maximum number allowed per set.
6TimingSubstitutions typically occur during a stoppage in play, ensuring a smooth transition without disrupting the game’s flow.
Understanding and executing these key elements is crucial for effective substitutions in volleyball, allowing teams to optimize player skills and adapt to the dynamics of the match.
Key Elements of a Substitution

When Can Substitutions Occur?

Dead Ball Situations

Substitutions can only occur during dead ball situations, ensuring the game is not disrupted. Deadly ball situations include timeouts, intervals between sets, and other instances when the ball is not in play.

Coaches must capitalize on these opportunities to make strategic substitutions that can positively influence the game’s course.

Injuries and Timeouts

Along with regular substitutes, coaches can make injury replacements. The coach can substitute an injured player. Timeouts also allow teams to regroup and adapt their strategy by allowing substitutes.

It’s important to note that substitutions due to injuries must be legitimate and certified by the match officials.

When Can Substitutions Occur

Rotation Rules and Positional Changes

Rotations and Positional Changes

Volleyball follows a rotational system where players must move clockwise when their team wins the serve from the opponents. Understanding the rotation is crucial for making effective substitutions and maintaining a balanced team.

Coaches can strategically substitute players to optimize the team’s position on the court, ensuring each player complements the others regarding skills and strengths.

Libero Substitutions

Libero players, specialized in defensive skills, have unique substitution rules. Liberos can replace any back-row player without prior notice to the officials, adding an element of surprise to the game.

However, coaches must be mindful of libero substitution rules, such as not allowing the libero to serve, hitting above the net height, or block.

Rotation Rules and Positional Changes

FIVB Rules For Substitutions In Volleyball

The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) allows substitutions in volleyball, and the procedure involves specific rules.

Sr NoRuleDescription
1Number of SubstitutionsThe FIVB rule permits each team to make a maximum of six substitutions per set.
2Substitution PositionsTeams can substitute players for any reason during a match. The substituted player must leave the court before the replacement enters.
3Multiple SubstitutionTeams can repeatedly substitute the same player.
4Referee AuthorizationThe referee must approve substitutions to keep the game running well and respect the rules.
These regulations are FIVB standards and may apply to international volleyball competitions.
FIVB Rules For Substitutions In Volleyball

Coaching Strategies for Effective Substitutions

Strategic Substitutions

Successful coaches employ strategic substitutions to gain an advantage over the opposing team. This involves analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of both teams, identifying critical moments in the game, and making substitutions that capitalize on favorable matchups.

Coaches should consider factors like player fatigue, opponent strategies, and overall team dynamics when substituting.

Communication and Team Dynamics

Effective communication is paramount in executing successful substitutions. Coaches must convey substitution plans clearly to the players, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and adaptability.

Building a solid team dynamic ensures players seamlessly transition in and out of the game, maintaining a cohesive and efficient playing style.

Coaching Strategies for Effective Substitutions

Types of Substitution in Volleyball

Volleyball allows various types of substitutions during a match. Here are the main types:

Injury Substitution

When a player is injured and not able to play, then injury substitution is incurred.

red card substitution

If a player gets a red card for any misconduct, then a red card substitution can be made.

Clausal, verbal, and nominal substitutions

Substitutions depending on communication. Verbal substitutions employ speech, while nominal substitutions use phrases or words. Clausal substitutions replace players with entire sentences.

Strategic Substitutions

Pinch Server: Bringing in a player specifically for serving.

Defensive Specialist: Substituting a player skilled in defensive plays.

Middle/Libero Server (USA): Utilizing a player with specific serving abilities.

Second Setter: Bringing in a second setter for tactical advantages.

Power Substitution: Introducing a player for increased offensive capabilities.

On-Court and Off-Court Substitutions

In play, on-court substitutions replace a player, while off-court substitutions occur during timeouts or between sets.

Requesting substitutes

A team can request multiple substitutes at the start of a set or during a timeout.

Types of  substitutions in volleyball

How many substitutions are allowed in volleyball?

The number of substitutions allowed in volleyball can vary based on the level of play and the governing body overseeing the competition:

High school and collegiate volleyball?

The number of substitutions allowed in high school and collegiate volleyball can vary. Different sources provide different information:

  1. According to one source, in high school and collegiate volleyball, 15 substitutions are allowed in each set, providing teams with ample subbing options.
  2. Another source mentions that in NCAA (collegiate) volleyball, there is a maximum of 15 substitutions allowed per set.
  3. However, a contrasting view suggests that youth volleyball permits 18 substitutions per set, while collegiate volleyball allows 15 substitutions per set.

The variation in information highlights the importance of referring to the specific rulebook or regulations provided by the governing bodies overseeing high school and collegiate volleyball competitions for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Club Volleyball

The number of substitutions allowed in club volleyball can vary, and it depends on the specific rules and regulations set by the governing bodies or organizations overseeing the club competitions.

While some sources indicate that are 15 substitutions allowed per set in youth volleyball and 18 substitutions permitted in collegiate volleyball, it’s crucial to note that rules may differ based on the level of play and the governing body involved.

For precise information on substitutions in club volleyball, it is recommended to refer to the official rulebook or regulations provided by the specific governing body or organization managing the club competitions.

International volleyball (Olympics)

Teams can make six substitutes per set in international volleyball, including the Olympics. This regulation requires players to be adaptable and well-rounded because substitutions are strategic.

The referee must authorize substitutions and the coach or game captain might request them. The Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) sets these rules for most volleyball leagues worldwide.

In the United States, under United States of America Volleyball (USAV), teams are allowed 12 substitutions during a game.

How many substitutions are allowed in volleyball

Who Authorizes A Substitution In Volleyball?

Referees authorize volleyball substitutions. The referee oversees games, enforces regulations, and ensures fairness. The referee approves substitutions once the coach or game captain signals them.


How many substitutions are allowed in a volleyball game?

The International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB) is the most popular governing body around the world which allows 6 substitutions per set.

What is exceptional substitution in volleyball?

An exceptional substitution is a special substitution that lets a sick or injured player leave the game and come back in without having to go through a normal substitution. This rule is meant to deal with health problems that come up during a match.

What is rolling substitution in volleyball?

Rolling substitution lets players come in and out of the game without asking the judge for permission. This keeps the game moving. It gives teams planning freedom and keeps interruptions to a minimum.

Can a libero be substituted?

Yes, a libero can be substituted, but the substitution must follow specific rules. Libero substitutions do not count towards the team’s regular substitution limit, and the libero must enter and exit the court from the back-row position

Can one person sub for multiple people in volleyball?

No, each substitution involves one player replacing another. A single person cannot substitute for multiple players simultaneously.


In conclusion, mastering the substitution rules are crucial for coaches and players alike. I hope my blog has explored the basics of volleyball substitutions, the situations in which substitutions can occur, rotation rules, and coaching strategies for effective player management.

In this blog, I also discussed how many substitutions are allowed in volleyball, which would be helpful for you. By adhering to these rules and incorporating strategic substitutions, teams can enhance their performance and improve their chances of volleyball court success.

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