NFHS Volleyball Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis for 2017-18

Below are the NFHS rule changes and Points of Emphasis for the 2017-18 season.  Please contact Lisa Brinkmeyer at with any questions.

5-5-3b(12): Outlines mechanics for the second referee to sound a warning whistle at 45 seconds or any other time when both teams take the court ready to play before the audio signal (horn) is sounded at 60 seconds. Clarifies all time-outs are officially ended with the audio signal (horn).

Rationale: The defining end of a time-out shall be the horn and the warning of the impending end of the time-out is the second referee’s whistle at 45 seconds or at any other time when both teams take the court ready to play before the audio horn is sounded at 60 seconds.

5-4-3c(17): On a time-out, the first referee shall whistle the warning if the second referee is still checking the scoresheet.

Rationale: A procedure is needed for the sounding of the warning whistle should the second referee still be involved with checking the scoresheet.

5-8-3a: Outlines the new procedures for the timer to give the audio signal (horn) only to officially end a time-out and no longer for the warning at 45 seconds into the time-out.

Rationale: Clarifies that the audio signal (horn) shall only be sounded to indicate the official end of a time-out.

9-8-2 New: A replay, is considered, to be a part of a single play action. Therefore, once a replay has been called, by the first referee, no requests, e.g., time-out, service order, lineup, substitution, libero replacement, etc., may be recognized until after the rally is completed.

Rationale: A replay is a single action to repeat the start and completion of a rally that was interrupted under Rule 9-8-1. Clarifies when resuming play, all circumstances should be the same and no requests shall be recognized for, e.g. time-out, service order, lineup, substitution, libero replacement etc.

Officials Signals: Omit the illegal substitution signal (Signal # 20) as the penalty is Unnecessary Delay if attempting to enter the set and illegal alignment if observed in the set.

Rationale: The penalty for illegal substitution is “unnecessary delay–administrative yellow or red card;” there is no longer a need to have two penalty signals, illegal substitution and unnecessary delay.



2-1-5: Clarifies the language regarding the attack line shall be solid and one clearly visible color.

5-2-1b: Clarifies when the second referee will indicate both the nature of the fault and the number of the player committing the net fault.

2017-2018 Volleyball Editorial Changes
4-1 Penalty 3, 4-2 Penalty 2, 10-3-3, 11-2 Penalties 1 and 2, Sample Sets


2017-18 Volleyball Points of Emphasis
1. Conduct and Privileges of Assistant Coaches
2. Court Boundary Lines and Attack Lines
3. Second Referee-Handling of Request for Third Time-Out
4. Letters of Authorization
5. Mechanics of Signals and Communication

Conduct and Privileges of Assistant Coaches

The assistant coach has fewer privileges than the head coach. The assistant coach may only stand to ask the second referee, during a dead-ball situation, to review the accuracy of the score, verify the number of time-outs used, request the serving order of his/her team or to verify the proper server for the opponent. He/she does not have the privilege to address the referees on other matters. The assistant coach may also stand at the bench to great a replaced player, confer with players during time-outs, spontaneously react to an outstanding play by a player(s) of his/her own team, and attend to an injured player with permission of a referee. The assistant coach does not have the privilege to stand at the bench area during play. An assistant coach who tries to engage the second referee in discussion regarding a ruling is inappropriate and may result in a card. Likewise, an assistant coach who continues to stand and lingers once play has resumed is inappropriate and may result in a card. It is important that the second referee sets the boundaries for assistant coaches based on the rules from the onset. Preventive officiating will allow the second referee to professionally address the assistant coach in a manner to guide the coach to follow the spirit of the rules, avoid rushing to a penalty and maintain administrative order in the match as intended.

Court Boundary Lines and Attack Lines

The NFHS Volleyball Rules Book is very specific regarding the dimensions, colors, etc. of the court boundary lines, center line and attack lines. These rules should be reviewed prior to any new logos, decals or painting of court surfaces. Rule 2, Section 1, Articles 2-5, specifically address the center line and the attack line, and should be closely reviewed by school administrators, athletic administrators, coaches and contractors. As noted in Rule 2-1-4, a shadow-line is permissible for only the center line. A shadow-line is not permitted for the attack line or boundary line. The attack line and all boundary lines shall be a solid line, free of shadowing and in contrast to the surrounding court.

Second Referees Responsibilities on a Third Time-out Request

As Rule 5-5-3-11 states, it is a responsibility of the second referee to “grant time-outs.” Rule 11-2-3 specifies the number of time-outs: “two time-outs per set.” If a third time-out is requested by a coach, it is suggested the second referee use proactive officiating to let the coach know he/she does not have a time-out remaining. This can be done with a gentle shake of the head or a quick question, “Coach you want to request a third time-out.” If the coach persists in his/her request for the third time-out, the second referee shall recognize the time-out request and access an unnecessary delay. The play must resume immediately as the requesting team has no time-outs. Coaches attempting to use the third time-out and unnecessary delay to break momentum of the opposing team are violating the spirit of the rule. Increased instances of this violation of spirit of the rules may contribute to a review of the penalty for requesting a third time-out. It is recommended that coaches use bench personnel and bookkeepers to keep them informed of the number of time-outs used.

Letters of Authorization

Authorization is required from the state association for any special accommodation for an individual player, a memorial patch on the uniform or any other special circumstance not specifically covered in the rules. It is the responsibility of the school coach to contact the appropriate staff of the state association to seek the authorization following the established procedure set forth by the respective state association. Appropriate support material and early contact by the school to the state association is expected and prevents confusion when a player shows up and is not in compliance with the rules and not permitted to play by the game officials. It is NOT the responsibility of the officials to seek the authorization. It IS the responsibility of the coach to obtain the authorization before the contest and to present such authorization to the officials prior to the start of the match.

Mechanics of Signals and Communication

The proper execution of the mechanics of signals and position of the second referee and line judges are critical elements of the responsibilities of the officiating crew. The quality of the signal mechanics is the major means of communication between referees, officiating crew, coaches, spectators and media. A one, two, three approach to the signal will assist officials when signaling and meeting the responsibility of good communication. One is the proper signal with attention to how it looks. A sharp signal communicates confidence in the call and clearly indicates the result of the play. Two is to hold the signal long enough that the officiating crew is aware of the signal, the table officials know the call and can accurately record play results and coaches, fans and media are able to keep up with the play action. Three is a release of a signal and confirming with necessary members of the officiating crew that the action has been properly attended to such as substitution, request of a time-out or turning the set back to the first referee to the next serve. Sloppy or lazy mechanics will create confusion of the result of play action and could lead to a coach getting upset unnecessarily. Poor positioning will place the second referee or line judges in a location that inhibits their ability to make correct calls. Signals are the universal language for the officials. Your communication depends on them.

Lisa Brinkmeyer

Assistant Director

IGHSAU Volleyball Administrator