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Grass Volleyball Rules

HotMess Sports Grass Volleyball Rules

I. The Players 

  1. Each team must consist of at least six (6) active players 

  2. A team must have four (4) players to avoid a forfeit (3 players for 4's leagues)

    1. If you do not have 4 people at 5 minutes after the start (ie. 12:05 for a 12 pm game), you lose the first set. 

    2. 15 minutes later (ie. 12:20), you lose the 2nd set (and the match). There is no waiting period for the 3rd set (loss recorded as 0-3).

  3. ​​​​​​​No substitutions or non-registered Players are allowed unless they have registered under their city’s substitution registration

II. Uniform 

  1. HotMess tank tops are encouraged but not required to be worn during games. 

  2. Casts are illegal

  3. Clothing that has blood on it must be removed before the player may continue competition 

    1. A substitute player should enter the game to allow the player with blood to remove the soiled clothing

    2. When ready to return, the player may return to their original spot at the next rotation of their team

III. Substitution

If you wish to use substitutions during your match you have two options: 

  1. Substitutions can be one in and one out after the rotation. 

    1. Substitutions can occur on either side of the court

    2. The player who came out must stay in order and allow other sideline players waiting to rotate first, before rotating back in. 

    3. Substitution can occur on one or both sides of the court. You must keep the one in and one out consistent during the set. 

    4. If you choose this method all players on the team are involved.

    5. Many people would call this the PE method that was used in high school.

  2. If you wish to use substitutions during the set, you can use the “Buddy” sub option. Players that will be subbing for each other are dubbed “buddies.” When a buddy is the right player and teams rotate, they will move to the sideline for their Buddy to come in and serve. Thus, each Buddy will wait to sub in until their Buddy has played all 6 positions. 

    1. Players may not sub for their buddies unless at the front right position.

    2.  You may have more than one “buddy” system. 

    3. You must notify the ref if you will be using the “buddy” system before the set starts. 

    4. You cannot use the “buddy” system if you have 6 or fewer players

    5. See Figure 1 for reference

  3. Substitutions must remain consistent. If you do it once in a set you must do it the remainder of the set. Substitution systems may be changed each set but not during a set. The only exception would be due to injury which must be approved by the referee.

IV. Games and Scoring 

  1. A match is three (3) sets.

    1. The first two (2) sets are to 25 (rally score), win by two (2) with a cap at 27. 

    2. The third set is to 15, win by two (2) with a cap at 17. 

    3. All three (3) sets in each match will be played. 

  2. Rally Scoring: - A point shall be scored by the opponent each time a team commits a fault 

    1. If the serving team wins the rally, it scores a point and continues to serve 

    2. If the receiving team wins the rally, it scores a point and gains the serve. All players on the team rotate before this next serve.

    3. Definition of rally: A rally is a sequence of playing actions from the moment of the service hit by the server until the ball is out of play. A completed rally is the sequence of playing actions that result in the award of a point. 

  3. A team scores a point: 

    1. By successfully grounding the ball on the opponent’s court

    2. When the opposing team commits a fault. 

    3. When the opponent team causes a ball to contact the ground out of bounds.

V. Play 

  1. During the serve, the ball may not be attacked by the receiving team (cannot spike or block a serve) 

  1. It is LEGAL, however, to set a serve as a receiver 

  1. During the serve, the ball is live if it contacts the net and passes over (let serve), as in the normal course of play

  2. The ball may legally contact any part of the body. This allows any action with the foot, ankle, and lower leg that would be allowed with the hands or arms. 

    1. If contact is made below the knee, the foot must be planted firmly on the ground (no kicking the ball). 

    2. You may not kick the serve

  3. A player may not intentionally or incidentally contact the net with their body to alter the net’s height or position. To do so will result in the forfeiture of the rally and the point is awarded to the other team.

  4. Each team may contact the ball a total of 3 times before it has to be passed over the net. 

  5. A player may not contact the ball 2 consecutive times. 

  6. A player may not have prolonged contact with the ball (longer than a split-second) or “possess” the ball (eg. “lift” or “carry”).

    1. An underhanded and open-palmed hit will often result in a lift being called. 

  7. A ball may be played off of the net.

    1. The ball hitting the net does not count as a team touch. 

    2. A player may not hit the ball into the net and then hit it again immediately after. 

  8. The ball may not cross the net while in out-of-bounds territory

    1. A player may hit the ball across the net from out-of-bounds as long as the ball enters (while in the air) into fair territory before crossing the net.

  9. After each set (3 sets in a match), teams will switch sides

VI. Player Alignment 

  1. There are no restrictions on player alignment when you line up at the beginning of a set. Once the set starts, you must stay in that rotation and rotate so every person plays every position. 

  2. All 6 players will rotate clockwise. (You may use any of the substitutions during rotation).

  3. You must rotate the serve. 

  4. For 4's leagues players are not required to rotate position, but they must still rotate the serve.

VII. Disputes 

  1. Any disputes are decided by the referee after input from captains.

VIII. Sportsmanship

  1. Though games are often competitive, ensuring participant safety and providing a comfortable LGBTQ+ atmosphere is of utmost importance to HotMess Sports. Proper sportsmanlike behavior is subjective and should be viewed as how a reasonable person would interpret the behavior in a game. However, certain instances are inherently unacceptable, and the HotMess Sports staff will exercise zero tolerance when handling these situations.

  2. There is a zero-tolerance policy for the following behaviors:

    1. Public drunkenness

    2. Physical violence or threats of violence

    3. Excessive swearing or swearing of any kind toward any umpires or opposing players

    4. Discriminatory comments (including transphobic remarks or repeated misgendering of an individual)

    5. Name-calling

    6. Sexual harassment or inappropriate touching of any other individual

    7. Creation of any conditions of an unsafe environment

    8. Bullying of any kind

  3. The umpire has the discretion to give warnings and ejections for violations of the code of conduct or the rules of sportsmanship described herein

  4. Captains are responsible for maintaining proper sportsmanlike behavior for their team.

  5.  In addition to penalties enumerated above, the HotMess Sports staff  reserves the right to apply additional penalties as it sees fit.

  6. Ejections: Players that are ejected from a game or sitting out from the game due to an ejection must immediately leave the park until they are allowed to play again.

    1. Any team that has a player fail to adhere to this rule will automatically forfeit the game.

  7. Sportsman-like Conduct at Affiliated Events: the HotMess Sports staff reserve the right to eject or expel any players found engaging in egregious conduct toward other players (e.g., physical violence, bullying, sexual harassment, or abuse).


Fig 1. Buddy system of substitution. You may have as many or few pairs of Buddies as possible, but there are only two people involved in each pair of Buddies.