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Basic Backyard Volleyball Rules, Court Ideas, and Best Sets

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Our oldest daughter has a backyard volleyball net, and we love playing at family gatherings. Now, we aren’t professionals by any means, but we do enjoy competitive games, and from time to time, we argue about what is acceptable or not. So, I decided to put together a summary of the basic rules.

Do you want to play some volleyball but don’t know the rules? Or maybe you’re looking for some ideas for your backyard volleyball court. Either way, this blog post is for you. I go over the game’s basic rules and give you a few ideas for court layouts and best sets.

Basic Backyard Volleyball Rules

You don’t need to be too serious when playing backyard volleyball; however, knowing the basic rules can reduce arguments and increase the fun.

Here are the fundamental backyard volleyball rules or guidelines.

Three types of hits/passes

  • Each team gets three chances to pass or hit the ball to the team’s side of the net.
  • They can do so using either a pass/set/spike.
  • Spikes are a popular form of offense, and players use them to jump and hit the ball down to the opponent’s side.
  • Sets and passes are done between members of the same team. A set is the second step of a pass. In a pass, players just pass the ball to a teammate who may be in a better position to put the ball across. The perfect set is a high ball inches away from the net.

Rotation

  • This occurs after a side out. When a team wins a rally, it gets the right to serve. 
  • Rotation also occurs when the serving team makes an unforced error, or the receiving team wins a point. The players have to rotate and switch serves.
Picture of people playing backyard volleyball.

Touching the Net

  • Players must not touch the net with any body part other than the hair. They may touch the net with the ball.
  • A ball that touches the net can still be played.
  • Players may reach above the net without touching it to play the ball.

Out of Bounds

  • A ball is out of bounds if it touches any surface, object, or ground outside the court.
  • If a ball lands out of bounds, it wins a point to the team that did not touch it last.
  • Out of bounds is accepted when players hit the ball back into the play.

Service

  • The team that won the last point serves.
  • The player who serves must stand behind the back line. S/he may use underhand or overhand to serve.
  • The ball should be hit over the net and in bounds on the opposite team’s side.

Ball Play

  • Players may play the ball using any body part. Most players use hands or forearms.
  • The ball cannot be held, thrown, or pushed.

Scoring

  • A team wins a point each time they send the ball to the opponent’s side that they fail to return.
  • The team will also score a point if the opponent hits the ball more than three times before returning the ball over the net or when the opponent hits the ball outside the legal boundary.

There are several variations of volleyball that you can play in your backyard. Each version can be as exciting as you want it to be. 

The basics of backyard volleyball are the same as that of beach volleyball or indoor volleyball: two teams compete to put down the ball across the net on the opponent’s side of the net.

How Do You Make a Volleyball Court in Your Backyard?

The experts at Volley Ball USA recommend the following steps to create a volleyball court in the backyard. Please note that these are not official regulations but suggestions.

Play area – How Big Should a Backyard Volleyball Court Be?

  • Recommend backyard volleyball courts are 50 x 80 feet; however, you can play on a one 29.6 x 59 feet. You can build courts in a smaller area as well.
  • Note: International tournaments are played on 70 x 100 feet courts. They also recommend a 20-foot buffer on all four sides.
  • A 2 on 2 court is 26’3″ x 52’6″.
  • If you play casually or practice, you can adjust the size per your backyard space availability.

Net and Pole Height

  • Men’s net height should be 7 feet to 11 5/8th feet or 2.43 meters
  • Women’s net height is 7’4” ⅛ or 2.24 meters
  • For our backyard games, we typically set the net height at 6.5 ft. (we are short)
  • You should use 10.5 ft to 12 ft. tall poles.
  • 8.5 to 9 feet of the pole should be above the ground.
  • Choose poles of wood or pipe.
  • Pad the poles to prevent injuries to players.

Preparation of the Ground – Drainage

We set up our volley games in the yard where the ground is nice and dry and take the net down after we finish. We don’t always use the same location. If you intend to set up a permanent playing area with sand, then proper drainage is essential; without it, you’ll likely have a massive puddle in the middle of it.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Install a drainage ditch from the lowest point of the ground. You will need professionals for it.
  • Next, lay a perforated drainage pipe with a clean-out on its high side and the other open to the drainage ditch across the court. (Do not use corrugated drain pipe as it won’t be able to withstand the weight of the sand above it.)

Adding the Gravel

  • Next, add between 1 to 2 inches to 1-foot thick pea gravel.
  • If budget is of concern, only add the pea gravel around the perforated drain pipe.
  • Pea gravel is crucial as it can prevent the holes of the PVC pipe from plugging.
  • Now add geotextile fabric to prevent the sand from washing away.

Add the Volleyball Sand

Volleyball sand is different than golf course sand or washed masonry sand. It should be low in the dust- so aim to find the cleanest sand. You will need to buy a lot of sand; I recommend getting an experienced person over to measure the depth and size of your desired court for an estimate.

  • When buying sand, you can check for its abrasiveness by kneeling over it while wearing shorts—test for wet and dry conditions. You may also want to test for current dust. 
  • Add up to 2 feet of volleyball sand over the prepared area.
  • If budget is of concern, add in lesser sand but be prepared to rake and shovel back sand from the middle of the dished-out courts to the sides every now and then.

Add Boundaries and Net

  • Boundary lines are comprised of 1/4 inch rope or 1-1.5 inch webbing secured with anchors to the corners.
  • The boundary lines should contrast with the color of the sand to allow for easy visibility.
Picture of a family playing volleyball in the backyard.

5 Best Backyard Volleyball Sets

I decided to put together my own set; I bought a heavy-duty net from Amazon for just under S90.00. Then used two cast iron umbrella stands I had at the house. Next, I purchased two 2-inch diameter poles eight-foot-long and drilled five holes in each, and attached eye bolts to tie the net.

I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone; if I didn’t have the umbrella bases, it would’ve cost me an additional $100.00, then add on the costs for the poles and eyebolts, and you’d be well over $200.00. Even with my savings, I probably would’ve been better off buying the Patiasy portable volleyball net set. I’m ordering one for our oldest daughter’s house.

Patiassy Portable Outdoor Volleyball Net Set for Backyard Beach with Anti-Sag System, Height Adjustable Poles, Volleyball with Pump and Carrying Bag

Top Choice: Patiassy Portable Outdoor Volleyball Net Set for Backyard

Patiassy portable volleyball net will make your outdoor fun even more exciting. This regulation-size net comes with adjustable poles, a high-quality ball with a pump, and an anti-sag system. You also get a carrying case with it.

Features

  • Premium steel poles with push-button locking for easy on/off
  • Anti-Sag system
  • Regulation-size PE volleyball net with yellow tapes for visibility. It also has side straps to hold tension in the net
  • Six powder-coated steel poles
  • PU ball with 8.5 inches diameter
  • One ball pump with a needle
  • 600D oxford carrying bag

What we like about it

  • Easy to set up for kids
  • Premium-quality and well-made
  • Height adjustable feature
  • Easy storage and portability due to sturdy bag
  • I love being able to tighten the net quickly
Volleyball Net Outdoor - Portable Volleyball Set for Backyard with Professional Volleyball Net, Wrap Yarn Volleyball and Pump, Boundary Line, Carry Bag

Zdgao Store – Portable Volleyball Set

This set comes with a heavy-duty net that has reinforced edges. Made of durable polyethylene material, the Zdgao volleyball set is durable and weather resistant. The well-designed regulation size net has vinyl tapes on all sides to distribute tension evenly.

It is designed for an official court size of 60 x 30 ft. The only reason I like the Patiasy portable volleyball net set better is because of the anti-sag system.

Features

  • Includes six poles/6 steel stakes  – top, middle, bottom; official size (size 5) volleyball, carrying bag, guide rope, and a marker for court center.
  • Volleyball is made of 6mm PU wrap yarn and machine stitched
  • Regulation (official) size net
  • 1.5-inch diameter poles with 0.8 mm thickness
  • Soft volleyball can be filled with a pump that comes with two needles.
  • Water-proof sturdy carrying bag for storage. It is made with 600D polyester and has YKK zippers.
  • Suitable for 2, 4, or 10 players

What we like about it

  • Water-proof and rust-resistant; supports all-weather playing
  • Easy to set up and take off due to press-button poles
  • Great for beach, backyard, lawn, and other outdoor scenes.

What we don’t like about it

  • It cannot be adjusted for men’s or women’s height as the poles are over 8 ft tall. Taking off one tube might help.

What we don’t like about it

  • Stakes get bent out of shape when pushed at an odd angle.
Franklin Sports Volleyball Set - Backyard Volleyball Net Set with Volleyball, Portable Net & Ground Stakes - Beach or Backyard Volleyball - Family

Best Inexpensive set: Franklin Sports Portable Volleyball Net Sets 

Enhance family fun at your next party, beach outing, or game night. Franklin Sports portable volleyball net set comes with the net, a volleyball, a pump with a needle to fill it up, and stakes to set up the net. In short: it contains everything you need to get started with this great game.

Franklin Sports volleyball net set is sturdy and well-made. It is also lightweight, so you can easily carry it outdoors. It even comes with a carrying case to ease the task.

Features

  • Net measures 20 inches x 1. 5 inches
  • Poly pole diameter is 1.25 inches with a height of 8 inches
  • Polyester cloth ball with a diameter of 8 inches

What we like about it

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to set up and assemble
  • Durable and sturdy
  • Great for gifting
  • Value for money

What we don’t like

  • The ball is too soft, and most people bought another one separately.
Baden Champions Volleyball Set Blue

Baden Backyard Volleyball Set with Carrying Bag

Whether you have a family cookout, want something to keep your kids away from the screens this summer, or simply want a game to stay more active, this backyard volleyball net set from Baden Backyard is perfect for all ages. Baden Backyard is known for its premium game sets. They also have a Champions line and premium Pro Series in their game products – the latter is the one to go for if budget isn’t an issue.

Durability won’t be an issue when you buy the Baden Backyard volleyball set. This is a set that is going to last for years to come. It is a stable and sturdy set that can resist heavy winds. The lightweight set is great to carry to the beach or wherever you want to play volleyball.

Features

  • Weather-resistant boundary lines
  • Heavy-duty, powder-coated steel poles and stakes (1.5 inches)
  • Includes a volleyball
  • Regulation size net – 9.5m, field 9m x 18m comes with adjustable drawstrings to tighten/loosen the net as needed.

What we like about it

  • High-quality, durable, sturdy, dependable
  • Easy to assemble
  • Value for money

What we don’t like

  • The drawstring on the net comes out and is painful to put back in
  • Most balls required filling frequently.
Forever Champ Volleyball Net System - Includes 32x3 Feet Regulation Size Net, 8.5-Inch PU Volleyball, Carrying Bag, Boundary Lines, Steel Poles & Pump - Height Adjustable for Men, Women & Co-Ed Games

Forever Champ Volleyball Net System

The Forever Champ volleyball net is regulation size so that you can make every game official.

It is effortless to install indoors and outdoors, and the durable net has a thick cable size with a standard hole size. Its soft PU material is rain-proof and long-lasting. Forever Champ volleyball net is also double-stitched to prevent wear and tear.

Features

  • Regulation size: 32 x 3 feet
  • All-weather, rust-resistant poles.
  • It comes with a carrying bag, a ball, a pump, steel poles, boundary lines, etc.
  • Soft 36-ply knotless PE net
  • Heavy-duty canvas borders
  • It can be height-adjusted and rolled up for easy storage and transport

What we like about it

  • Strong and durable
  • Height-adjustable
  • Value for money

What we don’t like 

  • Not for windy areas
  • Instructions are unclear.

Conclusion – Basic Backyard Volleyball

Backyard volleyball is a great game to add to your list of backyard games. It is excellent for stress relief and taking to beach parties, cookouts, camping trips, etc. 

We recommend the Patiasy portable volleyball net set; it’s made of high-quality material and has an anti-sag system. If you’ve played volleyball much, you know this feature will come in handy. If you’re looking for an inexpensive model, check out the Franklin Sports Portable Volleyball Net Sets; it is lightweight, portable, easy to set up, and great value for money.

Check out our other recommendations too.

Below is a YouTube video of a family volleyball game; as you can see, you don’t need an official court to play and have fun.

FAQs – Backyard Volleyball Rules and Sets

What is the main difference between outdoor and indoor volleyball?

The main difference between indoor and outdoor volleyball is the ball. Outdoor volleyballs are lighter and softer than ones made for indoor play. The light weight allows outdoor volleyballs to float and take advantage of the outdoor elements.

How wide is a backyard volleyball net?

You can have regulation-size backyard volleyball nets of 32 x 3 feet. The height is different for men and women.

How big is a backyard volleyball court?

A backyard volleyball court is usually 50 x 80 ft. if you play casually, you can set up the court to fit your backyard.

Can you play volleyball on concrete?

Yes. You can use the outdoor or backyard volleyball sets to play the game on concrete. However, you’ll have to insert the stakes or poles in the grass beyond your concrete slab or find another method to hold the poles.  

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