What Does The Term “Side Out” Mean In Volleyball? (All You Need To Know About This Volleyball Term!)

Last Updated on October 23, 2023 by Alex PT

In volleyball, “side out” is a situation where the receiving team wins the serve and gains the right to serve. It occurs when the serving team makes an error, allowing the receiving team to take over serving.

What Does The Term “Side Out” Mean In Volleyball?

In volleyball, “side out” is a critical concept that pertains to the exchange of possession and scoring in the game. It occurs when the serving team loses their right to serve, and the receiving team gains the opportunity to serve. Here’s a detailed explanation:

1. Scoring System: Side out is more commonly associated with traditional scoring systems, such as the Side Out Scoring System or Old Scoring System. In these systems, only the team that serves can score points.

2. Earning the Right to Serve: To earn the right to serve, the receiving team must successfully defend against the serving team and win a rally. This can be achieved through several means, such as:

  • Preventing the served ball from hitting the floor on their side.
  • Returning the ball over the net and into the opponent’s court in a way that the serving team cannot make a successful play.
  • Forcing the serving team into an error, like hitting the ball out of bounds or committing a rule violation (e.g., illegal serve).

3. Scoring: In the Side Out Scoring System, only the serving team can score points. They earn a point when they win a rally and side out the receiving team. This means that in this system, a rally won by the receiving team results in no points scored.

4. Loss of Serve: When a serving team fails to side out and loses a rally, they lose their right to serve. The opposing team then rotates to the serving position, and a player from the receiving team takes the serve.

5. Serving Rotation: Volleyball has a strict rotation system, where players must be in specific positions on the court during their turn to serve. When a side out occurs, both teams rotate one position clockwise, and the next player in line serves. This ensures fairness and equal distribution of opportunities.

6. Modern Scoring: It’s important to note that many volleyball organizations and leagues have adopted rally point scoring systems, where both serving and receiving teams can score points on every rally. In such systems, the concept of side-out is less significant because both teams have scoring opportunities.

Pros Of Side-Out Scoring

The side-out scoring system still has some good benefits despite the fact it has mostly been eliminated from volleyball. Here are some pros  of side-out scoring 


1. More Creative Play

Some people preferred this type of scoring system because they feel offenses could be more creative since there is no threat of “losing points”. 

2. Rewards Quality Teams

Some enforcement errors have made many teams stay in matches. Removing these errors from being costly would definitely reward teams with great qualities. 

The table below contains questions and answers on what volley and rally are in volleyball, and how to rally scoring works. 

Rally In Volleyball The time between the end of the play and the serve is referred to as a rally. You can as well refer to a rally as a volley in some volleyball terminology. 
Volley In Volleyball A volley is a popular term used in volleyball. It is when players try to keep the in play and returning it to the opponent without any play errors
How Rally Scoring Works In VolleyballIn a rally scoring system, a point is awarded each time the ball is touched more than three times consecutively by a team, ends up in the net, hits the ground, or lands out of bounds. In 1999, USA volleyball switched from the side-out scoring to really scoring.

Rally Scoring

After some changes in the game of volleyball, there comes the emergence of the rally scoring system which completely wiped out side-out scoring at almost all competitive levels. With the rally scoring system, whether you serve the ball or not you will gain points. In a rally scoring system, a point is awarded each time the ball is touched more than three times consecutively by a team, ends up in the net, hits the ground, or lands out of bounds. Except for the final deciding game, all other games are played to 25 points. However, when the third game is placed, it’s normally played to 15 points. 

On the other side, the side-out scoring method of volleyball, just the team that served the ball may score a point. Whenever the team without the serve triggered the ball to get to the ground in the opposite team’s court, if the opponent hit it out of bounds, if the serving team hit it within the areal, or even if the serving team touched it over 3 times, that is going to be a side out, which means they provide alternates on the opponent. Under side-out scoring, the very first team to 15 points will win the game.

Scoring System Changes

The Federation Internationale de Volleyball switched out of the side out scoring system to the rally scoring method in 1999, with the shift being compulsory in 2000. The switch was created to make the length of matches much more predictable to bring fans and increase broadcast opportunities.

What Is A Side Out In Volleyball Definition?

In volleyball, a side out scoring system is basically a scoring system that terminates a team’s right to serve. 

When A Team Earns A Side Out What Happens To Them?

The side out scoring system was used in volleyball when games were in 15s, instead of 25s. The meaning of this scoring system has changed a bit, with a side out mainly about earning the right to serve only when a rally or point is won. 

How Many Side Out Volleyball Are There?

In the game of volleyball, there are two major scoring methods used. The first to be used in the game of volleyball is the side-out scoring system which only awards the right to serve to the team that won a point or a rally. 

What Does Spike Mean In Volleyball? 

Spiking is slamming the ball over the net into the opponent’s court aggressively and effectively to score a point. The mechanism of volleyball spiking is not that different from the act of smashing in the game of tennis or slam dunking in the game of basketball. 

Final Words – Closing Thoughts!

The “side out” scoring system just let the serving team score on any rally. Normally, the non-serving team only gets the chance to serve when serving team gets penalized or maybe the non-serving team wins the rally. We’ve come to the end of this informative article. We hope you were able to find resources in your quest to know the meaning of side-out in volleyball. Please do not hesitate to contact us for questions or comments. Thanks!




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