NFHS Releases High School Volleyball Rules Changes for 2018

  0 Braden Keith | May 01st, 2018 | High School, News

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the overarching governing body for most high school sports in the United States, has released its rules changes for the 2018-2019 season.

Among the highlights were a change to the rule 10-2 where after a team is charged with unnecessary delay, no substitutions may be requested after a completed rally. According to the NFHS, “This change eliminates further delay of the set by removing the option of requesting additional substitutions after a team is charged with an unnecessary delay.”

The NFHS also changed the signal for “unnecessary delay,” signal number 21 in the rules book. The new mechanics call for the official to raise the hand on the side of the offending team, beside the head with palm facing the shoulder, and hold the appropriate card on the wrist of the raised hand.

“Previously, the mechanics were awkward and clumsy; this new procedure streamlines the delivery of mechanics,” said Lindsey Atkinson, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Volleyball Rules Committee. “The new signal is a better way for the teams as well as fans to understand the penalty.”

A new rule, 11-5-3, was also approved, that says between sets, teams can warm up in their own playing area, but may not hit volleyball over the net.

Most of the rules changes were minor and administrative, including several changes to referee signals, and one change to the rare occasion where a team is playing with fewer than 6 players.

“While these changes were important to certain areas of the sport, overall the committee believed the rules of the sport are in great shape and that no major changes were necessary,” Atkinson said. “We are pleased with the continued growth of the sport, both for boys and girls.”

Full NFHS 2018 Rules Changes, Courtesy NFHS:

2-4-1b: A referee shall stop play when any player gains an illegal advantage by contacting any team member while playing the ball.  

Rationale: Clarifies that no team member may assist a player during an attempt to play the ball.

5-5-3b(10) (NEW): The second referee has the responsibility to ensure that the head coach remains in the replacement zone no closer than 6 feet to the sideline, when standing during play.

Rationale:Supports the second referee’s responsibilities as outlined in the Officials Manual.

5-5-3b(13), 5-5-3b(20), 5-8-3a NOTE (NEW): When multiple courts are in use, the second referee may end a time-out or interval between sets with a long whistle in place of the timer sounding an audio signal (horn).

Rationale:Clarifies timer and second referee responsibilities during time-outs/intervals when multiple courts are in use.

9-8-2 EXCEPTION (NEW), 11-4-1b (NEW): When a replay is signaled due to an injury/illness and the injured/ill player cannot continue play, the head coach may request a substitute or complete a legal libero replacement for the injured/ill player or take a team time-out(s) if the team has remaining time-outs.

Rationale: Clarifies the procedures for a replay due to an injured/ill player and adds the option of a legal libero replacement.

10-2 PENALTIES 2: After a team is charged with an unnecessary delay, the coach may request no further substitutions until the next completed rally.

Rationale: Eliminates further delay of the set by removing the option to request additional substitutions after a team is charged with an unnecessary delay. 

11-5-3 (NEW): Between sets, teams may warm up in their playing area, but may not hit volleyballs over the net into the opponents playing area.

Rationale: Establishes parameters for warming up between sets that minimize the risk of injury.

SIGNAL #21: To signal unnecessary delay, raise the hand on the side of the offending team beside     head, palm facing shoulder, hold the appropriate card on the wrist of the raised hand.

Rationale:Simplifies mechanics for unnecessary delay signal and clarifies side at fault.


1-5-2c (NEW), 1-7-2 thru 4: Provides consistency by listing all reasons why a match shall be declared a forfeit and clarifies that a forfeit is considered a termination of a match and not a suspension.

5-4-1c: Clarifies that the inspection of net antennas is a prematch responsibility of the first referee.

5-5-3b (13) & (20): Clarifies that the second referee shall use a double whistle to indicate the warning during a time-out and when an intermission is used.

6-4-5 NOTE (NEW): Clarifies that when a team is playing with fewer than six players, the vacant position remains open when rotating to the front row.

2018-2019 Volleyball Editorial Changes

2-1-4, 5-2-1b, 5-4-4d(1) & (4), 10-4-3c, 12-2 Procedures for Unsporting Conduct Violations 4 and 5, How to Use the Signals #20

2018-19 Volleyball Points of Emphasis

  1. Safety of Referee Stands
  2. Warm-Up Safety
  3. Treatment of Line Judges
  4. Net Fault Signal Mechanics

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Braden's first foray into sports journalism came in 2010, when he launched a swimming website called The Swimmers' Circle. Two years later, he joined as a co-founder. Long huge fans of volleyball, when Braden and the SwimSwam partners sought an opportunity to …

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