The Surprising Truth: Can You Kick the Ball in Volleyball?

Can you kick the ball in Volleyball

Volleyball is a fun and fast game known for its powerful aces and quick moves. 

Most people think that players only use hands and arms in volleyball.

However, some players skillfully use their heads or feet to play the ball in big matches and international games.

Can you kick the ball in volleyball? Yes, you can use any part of your body to hit the ball, according to the rules defined by FIVB and USAV Rulebooks. However, many U.S. schools do not permit the use of feet, reflecting variations in regulations at different levels of play.

Also, there’s more to think about than just the rules.

How does kicking the ball alter the gameplay in volleyball?

Why do some coaches dislike it while others think it’s a good skill?

In this article, I will shed light on these questions.

Whether you play volleyball, coach it, or just enjoy watching it, this article will help you understand this exciting part of the game.

Can you Use your Feet in Volleyball?

According to the USAV Rulebook, players can contact the ball with any body part, including their feet.

This rule aligns with the international standards set by the FIVB, as outlined in their rulebook in Section 9.2.2.

Both rulebooks establish that while traditional volleyball primarily involves hands and arms, using feet is legally permissible under official volleyball regulations.

The international and professional leagues embrace this flexibility, and you will see players using feet in those matches.

However, many educational institutions in the U.S. have more restrictive rules.

This variance often comes from safety concerns and the desire to develop fundamental skills in younger players.

I will discuss that restriction in more detail later in this article.

In practical gameplay, using feet can be particularly helpful in specific scenarios.

For instance:

  • A quick kick can be the only way to keep the play alive when the ball is far out of arm’s reach. 
  • A well-timed foot contact can redirect the ball unexpectedly, creating opportunities for the team. It can also add a surprise element for the opponents.
  • In situations where bending or digging might pose a risk of injury, using a foot to play the ball can be a safer alternative.
  • In beach volleyball, where movement in the sand can be challenging, a swift foot movement to keep the ball in play can be crucial.
Two players trying to kick a ball
Photo by Mark Cristino

Just like the old rule of ‘sideout‘ scoring in volleyball evolved, the rules regarding footwork have changed.

Previously, using feet was not allowed, similar to the deprecated sideout system. 

This evolution reflects the dynamic nature of volleyball and opens up new possibilities for players to use their skills in different scenarios.

Role of Kicking in Different Volleyball Formats

The rule of using feet in volleyball applies to professional matches.

While not the most common technique, skilled use of feet in indoor volleyball can surprise opponents and lead to impressive plays.

From high school games to beach volleyball, the role of kicking differs, impacting the game level and the strategy.

1) Can you Kick a Volleyball in High School?

In the U.S., high school volleyball rules about using feet are typically more restrictive.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), intentionally using feet is often not permitted.

I am personally a fan of this rule due to the following three reasons:

  • The kicking rule in high schools minimizes the risk of injuries from accidental kicks, particularly in crowded plays.
  • This approach aims to focus on developing fundamental volleyball skills with the hands and arms of young athletes.
  • It also promotes safety and a consistent style of play.

2) Beach Volleyball Rule

Beach volleyball typically follows FIVB rules, allowing players to use any part of their body, including their feet.

The sandy court surface makes using feet not just a legal move but often a strategic one.

This approach has the following pros:

  • Quick Reaction Saves: The sandy surface makes moving quickly challenging, so kicking can effectively save a ball.
  • Adaptability: The unpredictable nature of beach volleyball requires adaptability, where using feet can provide a crucial advantage.

How does Kicking Volleyball influence Game Strategy?

Kicking the ball can influence the game’s strategy in several ways.

It adds an element of unpredictability, challenging the opposing team’s expectations and defensive setup.

For instance, a sudden foot save or a kick pass can create more scoring opportunities.

In tight situations, where the ball is too low for a hand contact, a well-placed kick can keep the rally going and create chances for scoring maximum kills.

However, despite its potential benefits, kicking is not widely embraced by coaches in volleyball.

The coaches prefer players to use their hands and arms, and there are compelling reasons for this preference.

Firstly, controlling the volleyball is typically more precise with hands than feet.

Moreover, they are concerned about the potential for bad habits.

They worry that players who frequently kick may neglect developing essential hand-based skills.

This reliance might slow down the development of more effective and traditional skills.

Players who overuse this method might be disadvantaged when precision and control are crucial.

As an experienced volleyball coach, I suggest you use kicking as a last resort rather than a primary method of play.

Scenarios where using feet is not allowed

A critical scenario where using feet is not allowed is during the service.

The ball must be hit with one hand or any part of the arm during a serve, according to FIVB Rulebook, Section 12.4.

Players must be particularly cautious during service as violating this rule results in a point loss and can lead to a penalty card.

Safety is another critical factor where using feet might be implicitly discouraged.

When many players are near the net or moving quickly, kicking the ball could hurt someone.

It’s usually better to use your hands and arms in these busy moments to keep everyone safe.

Remember, the rules about using your feet can change depending on the game.

In official games, everyone sticks to the same rules and usually doesn’t use their feet.

But people might not be strict about these rules if you’re just playing for fun, like at the park or beach.

A player using his feet in kick volleyball match
Photo by Dannie Polley

Tips for Incorporating Footwork in Volleyball

Footwork in volleyball is an often underappreciated skill, yet it can be a game-changer in specific scenarios.

While many coaches dislike using feet in volleyball, I personally appreciate it, especially during intense matches where every play counts for saving the game.

Here are some tips and techniques to help you incorporate footwork effectively.

  • Set up drills where the ball is directed towards your lower body, and practice using your feet to keep the ball in play.
  • Exercises like balance board training or agility ladder drills can enhance your balance and coordination.
  • Train to use your feet as a last resort, especially when the ball is too far to reach with your hands or in a dive.
  • Watch how professional players use their feet in matches. Notice their timing and the situations in which they use their feet.
  • Include simple soccer-style warm-ups to get comfortable with the ball at your feet.
  •  Focus on using the right leg power to keep the ball in play without sending it out of bounds.
  • Learn and practice hitting the ball with the top of your foot upward. This method ensures better control and is ideal for defensive plays.

Recommended Reading: For more insights into volleyball rules and techniques, also check out my related articles:

What is Kick Volleyball?

Kick volleyball, also known as Sepak Takraw, is a unique and dynamic sport like volleyball’s adventurous cousin!

It’s played by two teams, each with two to four players, on a court similar to badminton.

Instead of just using hands and arms, players in kick volleyball use, you guessed it, their feet!

It’s not your typical volleyball game but it adds a twist to the traditional bump, set, and spike. 

This sport is wildly popular in Southeast Asia, and the International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF) mostly arranges its tournaments.

So, if you’re up for some foot-juggling action mixed with the thrill of volleyball, kick volleyball might be your new favorite sport.

Can you Use your Head in Volleyball?

Yes, you can use your head in volleyball, apart from using it for thinking up strategies only.

The official FIVB rules give the thumbs up for this move called a “header,” along with any body part to hit the ball.

The players at all levels can use it to their advantage, adding an unpredictable element to their game.

You can use this technique defensively to save a ball from hitting the ground or throw the other team off as an offensive move.

So next time you’re in a tight spot on the court, remember your head might be the key to turning the game around.

Final Words

From the high school gyms where the rulebook says ‘no’ to feet, to the sun-kissed beach courts where feet dance in the sand, volleyball’s story is one of evolution and thrill.

As players or fans, we see how a simple kick can turn an ordinary play into a memorable moment. 

Like the kicking rule explained in this guide, understanding volleyball rules boosts your confidence and skill on the court.

In the end, volleyball isn’t just about hitting a ball.

It’s about enjoying every surprise and challenge in this dynamic sport.

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