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Volleyball players must be in the proper position when the ball is served.
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Unlike most sports, in which players most often remain at one position throughout the game, volleyball players rotate through all six spots on the court, unless they're replaced by a substitute. Every player must begin each point in a designated spot on the court, according to the position being played at that time. If a player begins a point out of position, it is called a rotational or positional fault, depending on the specific offense. The infraction is also known as an overlapping violation, because the player overlaps another player's territory. All volleyball players should understand the overlapping rules to avoid costing their team a penalty.
Coaches must deliver a starting lineup to a referee or official scorer before the match and each set. The lineup indicates which six players are starting, and the positions they'll take when the game starts. To avoid an overlapping violation, players must rotate through the six positions according to their spots in the starting lineup. The server is designated as position 1. The front row players fill positions 2 through 4, from left to right. The back row left and center spots are designated as positions 5 and 6, respectively.
When a team regains the serve its players must rotate clockwise. Player 1, the server, moves into the 6 spot in the center of the back row. Everyone else moves down one number, with the player formerly in position 6 moving to position 5, and so on. Failing to rotate, or rotating into the wrong position, constitutes a violation.
When the ball is served, each of the six players on both teams must be in a proper position, with three players spread laterally across the front row and the other three in the back row. Player positions are judged by the locations of their feet. Each front-row player must have one foot on the court that's closer to the net than the feet of the player immediately behind in the back row. Right- and left-side players must be closer to the their respective sidelines than the players in the middle of the rows.
If a player is out of position when the ball is served, the team is called for a positional fault. The offending team loses the point and, if the penalized team was serving, the service goes to the opposite team. After the ball is served, players may move freely on the court without penalty.
Rotation and overlapping rules are consistent for indoor volleyball play throughout the United States, including high school and college play. The rules also apply to the international game. The rotation rules do not apply to beach volleyball.