Can you use your head or kick the ball in volleyball? Surprising Answer

Volleyball has a lot of rules and it can be hard to know what is allowed and what isn’t. In this post, we are going to discuss if you can kick a volleyball during a match or if this is illegal given that this sport is played with the hands. The same is true about touching the ball with your head. Let’s dive in to learn more.

Yes, it is allowed to kick a volleyball during a match. The official rules state the following:

In volleyball, you are allowed to touch the ball with your whole body.

This includes feet as well. This is allowed in the FIVB and NCAA rules and therefore is allowed in almost all of the volleyball competitions that are being organized. You can touch the ball with any part of your body (including your feet) as long as you touch it only once. In beach volleyball, it is quite common to touch the ball with a foot. In indoor volleyball, it is not that common as it is quite hard to control the ball in this way as players are wearing shoes.

In practice, it is mainly used when a libero or defender is not able to dig and has to use their feet as an alternative. It can help when the ball is outside the court and you want to save the ball anyway. If you use this, it is essential to pay attention to the surroundings as you can run into a wall if you don’t pay attention. It is also the reason why it is forbidden in some tournaments that take place in smaller sports arenas. This is not often worked on during training sessions as there are not a lot of drills to improve it. 

Another situation is when the ball is close to the net and the player uses a foot reflex to keep the ball in the air. It can be hard to dive close to the net as you are not allowed to go under the net. Therefore a touch with your feet can keep the ball in the air.

Photo by Stephen Baker on Unsplash

It has to be noted that some tournaments and competitions have limitations on this as they don’t want to create dangerous situations. For example, if the sports arena is small it can be dangerous if you start to run around and kick the ball. Check with your coach what is allowed in the given competition. In a lot of local games, they don’t allow it as the sports arena is too small and the accommodations don’t support this type of play.

Some professional volleyball players are quite good at saving a volleyball rally with their feet. It can be quite hard to do but work quite well if you are able to do so. The rest of your team has to be able to work with this ball. You will mainly see it when players are desperate and want to find a solution to a difficult situation.

It can work but is quite exceptional as the ball is often quite far away from the net at this point. It is quite hard to pull off as a volleyball court is quite small. You also have to be careful that you don’t hit the ceiling or net when you do this. Furthermore, it is hard to control the ball with your feet. Volleyball shoes are not made for this and controlling a ball in the air is not an easy feat.

 You won’t see it that often in college or high school volleyball as it is not really encouraged to do and not a lot of players know that they are allowed to do it. It can give players that work on this an additional edge over their competitors as they can defend in more ways.

Not a lot of coaches will work on this during training as they often feel that it is an edge case and training other skills are more useful. Balls are quite strong and kicking them shouldn’t damage them but it is just not part of the volleyball culture to do it often. The sport is mainly played with the hands as this offers more precision and control.

Let’s take a look at some spectacular foot saves during volleyball matches: 

Kick volleyball is a variation on volleyball in which players use their feet at all times. This results in very spectacular matches. The sport is not that well-known but is becoming more popular in the past few years. It is a very intense sport to play as you have to jump a lot. Therefore matches don’t last that long. Players are kicking the ball over the net and using their feet all the time instead of their hands. It is mainly popular in Asia at the moment.

Using the right shoes in volleyball is essential as they provide more grip and allow you to be more agile. We have discussed volleyball shoes in more detail here.

Can you use your head in volleyball?

Coaches would joke that you have to as it is needed to think a lot in volleyball. A lot of players are dreaming during a match and it is quite common to say that they have to use their heads.

Jokes aside, you can also touch the ball with your head. In fact, any part of the body is allowed to be used according to the International Volleyball Federation. Players don’t use their heads that often as it is harder to control the ball. It is used in similar situations as feet: when the ball is outside the court and the player wants to retrieve it because one of their own team members touched the ball last. It can also be used when players misjudged the ball and their head is nearby.

In a lot of instances, players get hit in the head accidentally. This can be quite painful as the ball can gain a lot of speed. It can be necessary to pause the match if this happens to let the player recover for a while. A substitution might be needed if the player is not able to continue. Every volleyball player has this experience and it can be quite annoying if it happens to you.

So in the NCAA, NFHS, and FIVB rules, it is allowed to use your head when you want to touch the ball. From college to the Olympics, it is generally allowed to use your head to control the ball.

Not a lot of players use their heads during a match as it is quite hard to control the ball by doing this. Your hands offer a lot more precision and control over the ball.

It can be spectacular when they do. Let’s look at some players that mastered using their heads during a volleyball rally. It can be a great way to save a ball that is going outside and was touched by someone on your team. Finding the right balance between power and precision is quite hard. This is the reason why volleyball players prefer to touch the ball with their hands.

To conclude, we can state that it is legal to kick the ball and touch the ball with your head in volleyball. This is the case in both high school and college-level volleyball competitions in the USA as in international matches that are governed by the International Volleyball Federation.

It doesn’t happen often that a player is kicking a ball in a volleyball match but it can result in spectacular images and saves. Not a lot of players practice this during training and it can be difficult to pull off. The sports arena has to be big enough and in some instances, there are limitations on this as they don’t want to create dangerous situations.