Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Referee Calls Explained: Back Row Attack

Published on March 19, 2010 by   ·   1 Comment

One of the most confusing aspects of a volleyball game for many players and spectators, is the referee’s hand signals. Today we’re going to go over the distinction between two common calls: illegal back row attack and illegal net penetration. referee hand signals back row attack

As you can see in the graphic, the hand signals used by the referee to indicate these two faults are very similar. The signal on the left is for illegal net penetration, which occurs when a front row player puts their hands into their opponent’s court space too soon.

In a nutshell the blockers must allow their opponents a fair chance at setting up an attack. They can’t be putting their hands over the net and interfering with the set, otherwise no one could ever complete a play. This fault occurs most often when a pass is very tight to the net and the setter is jumping up to try and intercept it.

If the setter is clearly attempting to pull the ball back into his/her court space but the opposing blocker interferes by penetrating his/her hands over the net, the over the net call will be made.

It’s important to remember that if the setter is trying to dump the ball (i.e. send it over the net on the second touch rather than set it to one of his/her hitters) then the blocker is free to put his/her hands over the net to prevent this from happening. The dump is considered an attack and the blocker can defend against it just like a hard-driven hit.

If the blocker simply jumps and keeps his/her hands parallel with the net and does not penetrate the plane of the net, they’ll be safe from this call. This is what many blockers will do because they have a chance of rattling the setter by being in his/her face but aren’t in danger of being called for illegal net penetration.

The second image is the call for an illegal back row attack, and it can signal one of several things:

  • The libero has overhand set the ball inside the 10-foot (3-meter) line on his/her side of the net.
  • A back row player has jumped to attack the ball while on or in front of the 10-foot line.
  • The setter’s hands were above the plane of the net when s/he set or dumped the ball over the net and the setter is a back row player.

All of these are instances of an illegal play by a back row player and will result in the illegal back row attack call.

The difference in hand motions should be clear if you have a good referee. The over the net call should involve very little movement; just the ref’s hand extending over the net from the side on which the fault was committed. For the back row attack call the ref should make a downward motion with his/her hand, as illustrated in the graphic.

My goal is to cover one or two common calls every Friday for the next few weeks, so if you have a ref call that’s confusing you drop a line in the comments and I’ll answer your question next week.

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Readers Comments (1)

  1. [...] Practice both attacking and blocking tight passes by having a friend toss several right on top of the net. Remember to wait for at least part of the ball to make it onto your side of the net before acting to avoid an interference call. [...]




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