Volleyball Rules - 1897



The game's first rules, from the Official Handbook of the Young Men's Christian Associations of North America.

Volley Ball is a new game which is pre-eminently fitted for the gymnasium or the exercise hall, but which may also be played out-of-doors. Any number of persons may play the game. The play consists of keeping a ball in motion over a high net, from one side to the other, thus partaking of the character of two games -- tennis and hand ball.

Play is started by a player on one side serving the ball over the the net into the opponents' field or court. The opponents then, without allowing the ball to strike the floor, return it, and it is in this way kept going back and forth until one side fails to return it or it hits the floor. This counts a "score" for one side, or a"server out" for the other, depending on the side in point. The game consists of nine innings, each side serving a certain number of times, as per the rules, per inning.



The game consists of nine innings.


An inning consists of: when one person is playing on each side, one service each side; when two are playing on each side, two services each side; when three or more are playing on each side, three services each side. The man serving continues to do so until out by failure of his side to return the ball. Each man shall serve in turn.


The court or floor space shall be twenty-five feet wide and fifty feet long, to be divided into two square courts, twenty-five by twenty- five feet, by the net. Four feet from the net on either side and parallel with it shall be a lin e across the court, the Dribbling line. The boundary lines must be plainly marked so as to be visible from all parts of the court. Note--The exact size of the court may be changed to suit the convenience of the place.


The net shall be at least two feet wide and twenty-seven feet long, and shall be suspended from uprights placed at least one foot outside the side lines. The top line of the net must be six feet six inches from the floor.


The ball shall be a rubber bladder covered with leather or canvas. It shall measure not less than twenty-five inches, nor more than twenty-seven inches in circumference, and shall weigh not less than nine ounces nor more than twelve ounces.


The server shall stand with one foot on the back line. The ball must be batted with the hand. Two services or trials are allowed him to place the ball in the opponent's court (as in tennis). The server may serve into the opponents' court at any place. In a service, the ball must be batted at least ten feet, no dribbling allowed. A service which would strike the net, but which is struck by another of the same side before striking the net, if it goes over into the opponent's court, is good, but if it should go outside, the server has no second trial.


Each good service unreturned or ball in play unreturned by the side receiving counts one score for the side serving. A side only scores when serving, as a failure to return the ball in their part results in the server being put out.


A play which hits the net, aside from first service, is called a net ball, and is equivalent to a failure to return, counting for the opposite side. The ball hitting the net on first service shall be called dead, and counts as a trial.


It is a ball striking the boundary line. It is equivalent to one out of court, and counts as such.


Any number may play that is convenient to the place. A player should be able to cover about ten by ten feet.Should any player during play touch the net, it puts the ball out of play and counts against his side. Should any player catch or hold for an instant the ball, it is out of play and counts for the opposite side. Should the ball strike any object other than the floor and bound back into play, it is still in play. To dribble the ball is to carry it all the time, keeping it bouncing. When dribbling the ball no player shall cross the dribbling line, this putting the ball out of play and counting against him. Any player except the captain, addressing the umpire or casting any slurring remarks at him or any of the players on the opposite side, may be disqualified, and his side be compelled to play the game without him or a substitute, or forfeit the same.

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