What does a match in volleyball consist of? A step-by-step explanation.

A volleyball match has different steps. We are going to discuss everything from leaving the house to having a drink after the game. Most players have a match every week when they participate in a competition. This ensures that they can evolve quite fast as they can practice the basic volleyball skills over and over again. 

1/ Getting there: travel to the sports arena

In most competitions, one game is played in the home arena and one game is played in the arena of the other team. It can take quite some time to travel to the other arena. This can be a great moment to connect with the rest of the team and to get to know each other. Some competitions even involve traveling by plane as you have to go to another state. You have to wash your gear in advance and make sure that you have everything with you. 

2/ Dressing room: getting ready

Every player dresses up. You often get the matching outfit from the team so that everyone has the same colors. Some players wear knee pads, hair bands, tape, or glasses. All of these can take some time to get on. It is also possible that the coach will give a short briefing about the other team and will discuss the strategy. This often takes about 45 minutes in total. The trainer gives some short bullet points and mentions some things that you have to pay attention to. 

3/ Warming up

The next step is to warm up. This can be done with drills without a ball, such as running. Once this is done, players tend to warm up by passing to each other. The goal is to start slow and gradually increase the speed. This makes it harder to keep the ball in the air for a longer period of time. After this, players often serve the ball to ensure that they use the correct amount of force. In some instances, this is not possible as the other team is on their half of the court. Your team can arrive earlier so that they can practice this anyway as it is an important part of a match. The same is true about spiking. This might be harder to do as well when the other team is warming up. 

4/ First set

Depending on the competition the home team can start or it is decided by the referee. The game starts when one player is serving the ball. He or she is standing behind the line of their part of the court and needs to get the ball over the net at once. It is possible that the starting team already scored a point and can serve again. If the other team has scored a point by dropping the ball in the part of the court where their opponent is standing, they get to serve.  The team that wins two sets (for women) or three sets (for men), wins the game. The maximum is three (for women) or five (for men) sets as each team can win some sets but only one team can win two (for women) or three sets (for men).  The goal is to use an uneven number of sets so that each game has a winner.

The referee checks who scores a point and also makes sure that players don’t make mistakes (such as holding the ball in their hands, crossing the line under the net, touching the ball more than once).

Photo by Stephen Baker on Unsplash

During the game, it is possible to ask for a time-out. This is not limited and most competitions only grant two timeouts per team. The coach can use this to discuss some strategies or to give the players a rest. This only lasts thirty seconds so there is not a lot of time to discuss things.

In beach volleyball, the first few ball touches often don’t count as this is part of the warmup.

5/ Half time

There is an extended pause between the second and third sets. This can be considered as a half-time. During this period players can drink some water and the coach can discuss some strategies. Often players are substituted. This part of the game can be quite suspenseful as a winner will be decided after this. The team that wins the final set also wins the match.  During games that have five sets, there is often a break between the fourth and fifth set as well. Players have been active for a long period of time by then so they enjoy the short break. This only lasts about five minutes so you don’t have time for a nap. 

In beach volleyball there is no half time and the teams keep playing.

6/ Last set: all or nothing

The final set is quite important as the teams might be quite close. The set keeps going on until one team has scored two points more than the other. In some instances, the ball can go back and forth a long time before a point is being scored. Professional teams often play for more than an hour before they can end the match. 

In some tournaments, the final set can decide which team is going to the next round and which team has to go home. This can lead to very intense matches where players are fighting for each point. This is volleyball at its best.

Let’s take a look at the longest set:

7/ End of the game

The match ends as soon as one of the teams has won three (or five) sets. The referee indicates which team has won. After this, the teams shake each other’s hands to show that they respect their skills. It is very exceptional if a team doesn’t do this as it shows bad sportsmanship. Some teams celebrate after they have won but this is often just a short cheer and they go to their fans to thank them for their support. 

8/ Shower: time to refresh

Once the match is over, it is time to refresh. Everyone is showering and putting on new clothes. This makes it possible to enjoy the victory or learn from the defeat. 

The coach often enters the dressing room after the game to discuss the results. They will often focus on the positive aspects as everyone is quite tired at that point. 

9/ Having a drink after the match

Volleyball is a team sport and it is very important that you get along with your team members. After the match players often drink something together to discuss what went well and what went wrong. This also allows time for players to discuss certain things that annoyed them. For example, if a player didn’t get the pass that they wanted it can be discussed at this point. This makes sure that everyone gets along and that there are no further issues. 

10/ Drive back home

The drive back home can be very cheerful if the team has won. If the team lost, people might be angry and quiet. The coach has to make sure that the team is getting along and he or she might have some conversations while the team is traveling. Some players are sleeping as well as they are tired of playing the match. 

To conclude, we can state that a volleyball match has several steps. From preparation to warm-up and the final game. Players often have a match every week so they are used to this routine. They still might feel some stress but they are not overwhelmed by it anymore.