Reflections on Net Heights & Court Dimensions

Nov. 04, 2009, 4:29 p.m. (ET)

I find it baffling that the coaches in our sport do not understand the importance of practicing OVER the net. We take 15 minutes to set up the net - then ignore it for half an hour, letting the players pepper in front of it, throwing balls from in front of it, and generally using it as a wall, not the net that it is. In my clinics, i will put up this NET RULE sign, which you can get by CLICKING HERE, which pretty much says it all.

The thing is, when a girl hits 13 years old, and a boy hits 15, the object that we put up in their way to play over will remain that height for decades of their playing experience - 32 years for a woman and 40 years for the men. It then drops by a whopping 2 inches in height, and the women have to clear that height for another 30 years.  The specificity in training core concept that means we need to  TRAIN IN REALITY, thus tells us we will have to hit over this dang net which is always over 7 foot high, for all our playing lives. Yet even though this valuable "regulatory stimuli," to quote the motor skill researchers, is going to be in our way, we spend valuable minutes in practice ignoring it. 

The NET is Gold, the BALL is Silver, and the LINES are bronze, in my Citius, Altius, Fortius Junior Olympic based world. So I spend alot of time putting up at least twice as many nets as the court might officially fit, and get the kids to have more chances to play OVER the net.

Another suggestion to those of you growing the game, is to work hard and campaign to KEEP A NET UP ALL THE TIME. You see, if you look around the gyms of America, even at the elementary school level, you will see how many basketball nets up?, 4, wait no, there are SIX up in most gyms. If a kid wants to practice hoops, what does it take? Just a ball and voila! they are shooting in seconds. What if that same boy or girl wanted to serve or spike a ball? It takes a quarter of an hour, perhaps more, to unlock the nets, haul out the standards, raise the basketball backboard and tighten up the net. When i was coaching at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I was able to lobby successfully to have one of the Rec Center gym courts, to have the net up all the time. Students could then just check out or bring a volleyball, and in seconds, they too could be doing more deliberate, but fun/uncoached volleyball. The basketball players? They sure could use the court, but they had to 1. lower the backboards, 2. take down the net and then when done, put the net back up, and raise up the backboards. Just like we do in the reverse all the time....

So just one court....for our lifetime, Olympic level, coed, non-contact, amazing, powerful, athletic sport deserves it, as do the kids and adults wanting to learn to get better at it. Oh, and while I am at it, since I am always getting this question, I thought a fast summary might help....


The net heights are the same for indoor and beach volleyball (and all outdoor surfaces such as grass).  The net is measured from the center of the playing court with a measuring device such as a "Rite Height," or a premeasured long pole.  The two ends of the net (over the sidelines) must both be at the same height from the playing surface and may not exceed the official height by more than 2 cm (3/4").

                                          FEMALE                                MALE

Men                                    *************                            2.43m (7'11 5/8")

Women                               2.24m (7'4 1/8")                    *************

Mixed Six (Coed)                 2.43m (7'11 5/8")                  2.43m (7'11 5/8")

Reverse Coed                     2.24m (7'4 1/8")                    2.24m (7'4 1/8")

Standing Disabled              2.24m (7'4 1/8")                    2.43m (7'11 5/8")

Wheelchair Volleyball          1 m or 1.75m                       1.15m or 1.75m

Sitting Volleyball                1m                                       1.15m


70 years and above             2.19m (7'2 1/8")                    2.29m (7'6")

60 years and above             2.19m (7'2 1/8")                    2.38m (7'9 1/8")

55 years and above             2.19m (7'2 1/8")                    2.38m (7'9 1/8")

45 years and above             2.19m (7'2 1/8")                    2.43m (7'11 5/8")

15 years and above             2.24m (7'4 1/8")                    2.43m (7'11 5/8")

13-14 years and under         2.24m (7'4 1/8")                    2.24m (7'4 1/8")

11-12 years and under         2.13m (7'0")                           2.13m (7'0")

10 years and under             1.98m (6'6")                           2.13m (7'0")


The indoor court size in all 220 nations of the International Volleyball Federation is 9x 18 meters.  This is 29'6" x 59'  The attack line is a 3 meters (9'9"). The Olympic doubles court is 8 x 16 meters, This would be 26' x 52'. The National HS Federation, and some outdoor court groups, still say the court is 30'x60', and thus have a "10 foot attack line." If you are putting up a new court, the right size to make it is 9x18m.

Courts which are 30x60' are still legal until repainting can occur. To make a larger outdoor court the official Olympic doubles size, you bring the corners in .5 meters on the endlines and 1 meter on the sideline.  A minimum of 2 meters of free space must surround each court for indoors and 3 meters for outdoors. The more space you can create the better. Thus each court side by side will need to have 4 meters of space minimum to the other court, in case a divider net is also used.  Some older gyms do not have walkway space behind a court or a full two meters to the endline, so a step-in line is placed for the server to have the full two meters.

Remember to use the "Hollywood Star" concept to reward the farthest successful pursuit of a ball off the court by a team player. It is important to keep all water bottles, sweat shirts and coaches clipboards up on chairs or places far from the court - and keep the FREE zone really free of anything the pursuing athelte - who is looking UP at the ball, not at the floor - might step and slip on. This is especially true in tourneys, where the players often congregate between courts, cheering and hoping to get in. These atheltes put their water bottles on the floor and when a teamate goes in off court pursuit, the subsititues scatter to make room, but leave a family of ball bearing like water bottles behind in the hustling ball pursuiing teammate's path. Keep the bottles and everything off the floor, so you can scatter and leave a safe path of pursuit for every athlete.

Thanks for helping us get more nets up, and thus grow the game better and faster.

This information was taken from the 2009-2011 USA Volleyball Rulebook, and can be bought or downloaded at our web site, where tons more information exists on growing the game.