Can You Kick the Ball in Volleyball?:  A Surprising Twist in the Game

by | Jun 1, 2023 | Volleyball Questions, Advice & Skills

If you’re like me, and you’ve spent hours on the volleyball court, you know there’s nothing quite like the thrill of a well-played game.

Volleyball requires strategy, agility, and teamwork, with each player contributing their unique skills to keep the ball soaring over the net. But amid spikes, serves, and digs, one question often surfaces – Can you kick the ball in volleyball?

It might sound surprising, even to seasoned players. In fact, I remember getting kicked in the face with the ball during an intense match. It was painful, sure, but the fact that a kick was involved raised a few eyebrows.

Traditionally, we associate volleyball with powerful arm swings and calculated wrist flicks, not kicks. This led to a revelation about the surprising twist in the volleyball rules that are often overlooked.

According to the FIVB rule, an international standard for volleyball games, you can use any part of your body to play the ball. Yes, this includes your feet, which opens up a new world of strategic possibilities.

But how often do we see players resorting to a kick in volleyball? And how can this surprising twist change the course of a volleyball match?

Let’s dive in and kick around some ideas.

A Brief History of Volleyball and the Basics of the Game

I don’t want to bore you, but before we dive into the kick of the matter, let’s take a brief journey back to the origins of this dynamic sport and grasp the basics that make volleyball so exciting.

Volleyball, a game that many of us have grown to love, was born in the gyms of the YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan, it was initially designed as a blend of basketball, baseball, tennis, and handball to be less physically demanding than basketball for the older members of the YMCA while still requiring athleticism and strategy.

Morgan first called the game ‘mintonette,’ but after a spectator noted the volleying nature of the game, the name was swiftly changed to ‘volley ball.’

From these humble beginnings, volleyball has grown exponentially.

Today, it is a staple in the summer Olympics, played passionately in high schools and colleges, and is enjoyed recreationally on beaches and parks worldwide.

The Basics of the Game: Contact Rules

At the heart of the volleyball game lies the concept of contact. The ball, your constant companion and occasional adversary, can be played in a multitude of ways – passed, served, spiked, and yes, even kicked.

In the traditional sense, volleyball players hit the ball with their hands or arms. The core techniques taught to any budding volleyball enthusiast are the pass (or bump), set, and spike.

The ‘pass’ involves contact with the forearm, the ‘set’ is a form of overhead pass using finger action, and the ‘spike’ is a forceful hit to send the ball plummeting into the opponent’s court.

The game is built around the principle of ‘three touches.’ Once the ball enters your team’s side of the net, your team is allowed to touch the ball three times before it must be returned. This rule necessitates strategic teamwork and careful coordination – the true beauty of volleyball.

Yet, there’s more to volleyball contact rules than meets the eye. When you delve deeper, you discover that the rules allow for more creativity, agility, and some surprising contact points – like your feet.

So, where does the foot fit in in a game dominated by hands and arms? Can you kick a volleyball? And if so, when and how? To answer these questions, let’s get to grips with the official rule book in the next section.

Stay tuned, as we’re about to kick off an interesting discussion!

Understanding the Volleyball Rule Book: FIVB Rules

Before we continue, let’s get our hands on the most exciting book in the world of volleyball – the FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) rule book. It might not be as captivating as a mystery novel or as enchanting as a love story, but to volleyball enthusiasts, this book holds the secrets of the game.

The Role of Different Body Parts in Volleyball

In the volleyball game, every part of the body is a potential asset. Most players think about their arms, hands, and maybe even their heads when they consider contact with the ball. However, one commonly overlooked yet essential part of your body in volleyball is your feet. Yes, you read that right!

Now, this doesn’t mean you should start dribbling the volleyball like a soccer ball in your next beach volleyball match. The usage of feet is often situational and requires strategic discretion. But, in some scenarios, your feet can be just the secret weapon you need.

Allowed to Kick the Ball – A Surprising Twist in the Game

We’ve arrived at our big question: “Are you allowed to kick the ball in volleyball?” The surprising answer is yes!

According to FIVB rules, kicking the volleyball is entirely within the bounds of legality. Contrary to what many believe, there’s no stipulation in the rules that explicitly requires the use of hands or arms for playing the ball. The exact rule, Section 9.2.1, states, “The ball may be hit with any part of the body.”

“Ball May Touch Any Part”: Exploring the Unexpected Latitude in the Volleyball Rules

This rule implies an unexpectedly wide latitude in how a player can contact the ball. Your hands, your arms, your chest, your head, and yes, even your feet are fair game. You’re in the clear as long as you only contact the ball (and not the net or the other players).

Does this mean we should expect to see some volleyball players pulling off bicycle kicks and volleys like soccer players? Not exactly. While kicking the ball with your feet in volleyball is legal, it’s often not the best strategic move. However, in certain situations, a well-placed kick can save the day.

Kicking the Ball in Different Forms of Volleyball

When it comes to the energetic game of volleyball, one size definitely does not fit all. Volleyball comes in various forms, and depending on whether you’re on the sandy beaches or inside a sports hall, your approach to the game, especially when it comes to kicking the ball, may vary significantly. Let’s explore how the art of kicking takes shape in different forms of this adrenaline-pumping game.

Traditional Indoor Volleyball vs. Beach Volleyball

Traditional indoor and beach volleyball share the basic principles but differ in many aspects. An indoor volleyball game usually involves six players on each side, while beach volleyball features only two. The court size, ball, and scoring rules differ as well.

However, the one aspect we are particularly interested in is how you’re allowed to kick the ball in both forms of volleyball. Whether you are playing indoor or beach volleyball, the FIVB rules still apply, meaning you can use any part of your body to keep the ball in play, including your feet.

The Application of Kicking the Ball in Beach Volleyball

Beach volleyball, with its smaller teams and more relaxed atmosphere, often sees a wider range of play styles, including more frequent use of feet. Picture yourself diving for a ball near the boundary of the court. Your arms are stretched out, but you’re just short. In this split second, your foot might be the thing that keeps the ball in play, making it an exciting twist in the beach volleyball game.

However, it’s worth noting that while kicking the ball is legal, it might not be the most efficient method to control the ball and set up your teammate for the perfect spike or kill. Therefore, even in beach volleyball, kicking is usually a last-ditch effort to save the ball from hitting the ground.

The Role of the Kick Serve in Volleyball Matches

Now, let’s focus on the role of the feet in volleyball matches, excluding serving, as it’s important to clarify that a serve must be hit by the hand or arm. Even though the rules allow players to use any part of the body, including the feet, to keep the ball in play during a rally, it’s not a common practice.

The use of feet is usually seen in emergency situations, where no other option is available to keep the rally going.

It might be when a player is diving and can’t reach the ball with their hands or when the ball has deflected awkwardly, and a foot is the closest body part to it. While these situations are rare, when they do occur, they can add an extra layer of excitement and unpredictability to the game.

Remember, though, while it’s exciting and sometimes effective to use a foot, the sport still largely relies on the use of hands and arms for control and power.

So, while practicing kicking the ball could be a fun way to explore the flexibility of the game’s rules, most of your training time should be dedicated to enhancing skills like serving, passing, setting, attacking, blocking, and digging, all of which primarily involve the hands and arms.

 Debunking Myths: Volleyball kicking rules

In any sport, there’s a host of myths and misconceptions that circulate among fans and players alike. Volleyball is no exception. One of the most common debates centers around the legality and practicality of kicking in volleyball.

Addressing Common Misconceptions About Kicking in Volleyball

It’s time to set the record straight. A common misunderstanding is that using your feet or legs to play the ball in volleyball is illegal. This misconception likely arises because most volleyball plays manipulate the ball with their hands or arms. But as we’ve discussed, according to FIVB rules, a player can use any part of their body to hit the ball.

But here’s the kicker (no pun intended), just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

How the “Ball May Touch Any Part,” Rule Allows for Kicking, Within Limits

The FIVB rule of “ball may touch any part” allows for the inclusion of feet and legs in play. This rule opens up a world of flexibility and freedom to make some unexpected and sometimes spectacular plays. Remember that viral video of a player making a miraculous save with their foot? That was perfectly legal and completely within the rules of the game!

However, it’s essential to remember that this rule comes with limits. The use of feet is typically a last-ditch effort, used only when hand or arm play is impossible. It’s a fallback, not a primary strategy.

Reasons Why It Might Still Be Better to Use Arms Over Feet in Most Cases

Although it’s exciting to imagine integrating some soccer skills into your volleyball game, there are several reasons why using arms is typically superior to using feet in volleyball.

  1. Control: Hands and arms offer significantly more control when passing, setting, or attacking the ball. Fingers allow for finer adjustments, and the wider surface area of your hands and arms provides a larger contact point.
  2. Precision: The ability to direct the ball more accurately is crucial in volleyball, and it’s much easier to achieve this precision with your hands than with your feet.
  3. Power: When it comes to serving or spiking the ball, your hands, and arms can generate more force and speed, leading to more powerful plays.

So, while the rules of volleyball allow you to use your feet, and it can certainly add an exciting twist to the game, it’s generally better to stick with your hands and arms for most plays. But who knows? Maybe one day, your foot will come to your rescue in a tight spot, making for a memorable play that will have everyone talking! 

When to Kick the ball in Volleyball 

Despite the conventional wisdom suggesting you should mainly use your hands and arms in volleyball, there are scenarios where using your feet might be not just helpful but game-saving.

Let’s dig into these cases and understand why using your feet can sometimes give you an edge on the court.

Scenario Exploration: Using Your Feet in One Final Desperate Move

Picture this: You’re in the middle of a tense match. With a wicked spin, the ball is heading toward an empty corner of your court. You’ve already dived full length, but it’s just out of reach of your outstretched arms. What do you do? Let it go? Not an option!

This is where the unexpected versatility of the ‘ball may touch any part’ rule comes into play. Extend your leg, give the ball a deft kick, and keep it from hitting the ground. It might not be the most stylish move, but it could be the difference between a point lost and a point saved.

Case Study: How Volleyball Teams Have Kept the Ball in Play Using a Kick

Need a real-world example? Let’s take the case of Gabriela “Gabi” Guimarães from Brazil. Gabi is renowned for her nimble footwork and has made some remarkable saves using her feet. She has a knack for getting her foot under the ball just in time, demonstrating that the unexpected use of feet can save crucial points in high-pressure matches.

Watch this video when Gabi Guimarães have the most amazing saves with the foot.

Practice Drills: Why It’s a Good Idea to Practice Kicking the Ball as a Skill

Given that the ‘ball may touch any part’ rule can allow for such dramatic, game-saving moves, why not prepare for such a situation? Incorporating footwork drills in your practice sessions could give you an edge in these high-stakes moments. Here are a few reasons why you might want to include kicking drills in your training:

  1. Unpredictability: It’s a move few players expect, and it can sometimes throw the opposing team off balance, as seen in our examples above.
  2. Versatility: Training to use your feet can help you adapt to unexpected situations, enhancing your overall game.
  3. Fun Factor: It’s a fun, unconventional method that can break the monotony of training sessions, bringing a fresh twist to your practice.

While volleyball will always be a game dominated by the use of hands, knowing how to incorporate a well-timed kick could come in handy. So, lace up your shoes, step onto the court, and remember – in volleyball, you’ve got more than just your hands to keep the ball in play!

How the Kick Counts as a Touch

Volleyball is a game of precision, skill, and, above all, rules. Kicking the ball is no exception. Despite the flexibility offered to ‘contact ball with any part of the body rule, the act of kicking the ball is bound by the three-contact rule, and failing to adhere to these rules could result in penalties. Let’s explore how kicking factors into the game’s rules and regulations.

Understanding How Many Times Can You Kick the Ball: The Three-Contact Rule

The three-contact rule is a central part of volleyball. This rule stipulates that a team can touch the ball up to three times (but not the same player consecutively) before it must go over the net. And yes, a kick does count as a contact!

So, imagine this: a teammate sends you a set, and you decide to spice things up. You jump and hit the ball with a kick over the net. That’s legal and exciting, and you’ve made use of the surprise factor! However, if you were to kick the ball, then hit it with your hands before it has been touched by another player, that would be considered a double hit and would result in a violation.

Consequences of Illegal Kicks: What Happens When You Damage the Ball or Kick Out of Turn

It’s important to remember that while kicking the ball can be an effective move in the right circumstances; it can also result in penalties if not executed correctly. One of these consequences is damaging the ball. Kicking the ball too hard or at an awkward angle might cause it to deflate or alter its shape, leading to a pause in the game and possibly a penalty against your team.

Furthermore, kicking out of turn or during a serv would also be considered a violation of the rules. The server cannot kick the ball over the net; the serve must always be a clean hit with the hand or arm.

Serving the final point…

Volleyball, an exhilarating sport that tests our agility, strength, and strategic thinking, is filled with intricacies and nuanced rules. Among these, the ‘ball may touch any part’ rule, which includes the ability to kick the ball, often comes as a surprising revelation to many players and enthusiasts.

The aim was to provide an insightful read and encourage players to understand the rules deeply and use them to their advantage.

From professional players in world championships to amateur players on the beach, incorporating different types of hits, including kicks, can make the game more unpredictable, challenging, and fun. It broadens your arsenal of possible moves, enabling you to make that last-minute save or surprise attack.

Despite the legal allowance to kick in volleyball, it’s crucial to remember the emphasis on control and precision. The three-contact rule still holds, and kicks should be used judiciously. But let’s not forget the excitement that a well-executed kick can bring to the game!

As you head back to your local court, beach volleyball game, or just a fun practice session in your backyard, remember this: volleyball is a game where every part of your body, not just your arms and hands, can be essential.

So why not challenge yourself and your teammates? Incorporate some “kick a ball as a practice drill,” and you might just discover a whole new fun element to your game!

This beautiful game of volleyball continues to evolve and surprise us. As we keep learning, adapting, and growing with the sport, let’s embrace all the rules, techniques, and surprises it offers.

Here’s to many more spikes, digs, blocks, and, yes, even kicks in your volleyball journey!

If you found this information valuable, why not serve it up to your friends and fellow volleyball enthusiasts? You might just help someone score the winning point in their next game!

Don’t stop here. Explore more on our website,, to fuel your passion and elevate your game. We have plenty more articles waiting for you.

See you on the court!