Beach City Sports Volleyball Rules



These rules were updated in August 2023 by Summer Session Rules Committee


Team Composition


o All games are played co-ed 4-vs-4.

o A minimum of 3 rostered players is needed to avoid a forfeit. 1 female is required on the court at all times and maximum of 2 men are allowed at any time (aka team composition of 3 male players and 1 female player, on the court at the same time, is not permissible).

o In the Regular Season only, If a team only has 1 female available to play the day of the match AND if the opposing team captain agrees to allow it, then a team will be allowed to play with 3 male players. If the opposing team does not allow it, then only 2 male players will be allowed to play on the court, with the 3rd male player acting as a sub.

o During the playoffs, teams are not allowed to play with 3 male players and 1 female on the court, at any time.  If this is discovered while a match has already started, then that team will automatically forfeit the match.  If this is discovered/reported after a match has concluded, and scores have been recorded, then the results of the match will still hold.


Grace Period & Forfeits


Teams are given a grace period of 10 minutes past the designated start time to field the required 3 rostered players to avoid a forfeit. If, at that time, one team is unable to field a team, it will result in a forfeit of the first set of the game. If they are still unable to field a full team by 15 minutes after the designated start time it will result in a Match forfeit.


Recording Scores


Captains, or a designated Team member, are responsible for recording the results of their game on the provided score board OR whiteboard at the BCS tent after their match concludes and before they leave the playing site. Scoresheets are also available at the tent if captains want to use them. Our staff will provide constant reminders with regards to the process.


If you forget to write the score on the whiteboard, please email as soon as possible with the outcome to your game. A BCS Staff member may also need to reach out to the captains if a score is not recorded and an email was not submitted.


Standings & Playoffs


The standings are updated every week. A team’s current standing in their respective division is based on winning percentage. Tiebreakers in the standings are determined on a head-to-head basis, first. If two teams have the same record but have not played each other, then the tiebreaker will be based off the differential of sets won vs sets lost. If teams have the same differential spread, then total Sets Won is the next tiebreaker. If three or more teams have the same record, then the system will automatically refer to the point spread differential as the 1st tie breaker.


Not all teams will make the Playoffs. Playoff eligibility will be dependent on the number of teams assigned to each division that season. Playoffs are single elimination. Summer Leagues may require games to be shortened, in consideration of the amount of daylight for the Championship Round.


Volleyball Courts & Match Length



o BCS acquires Permits for the reservation, and use of, Volleyball courts at sites throughout Orange County. All of the sites that BCS utilizes are open to the general public and BCS does not generally oversee the maintenance of the courts/sites. BCS does oversee the maintenance of the Volleyball Nets and Lines at the Newport Beach site.

o Court size is 60 feet long x 30 feet wide.

o Teams will play in a best 2 out of 3 format.

o During the regular season matches are to be played within time allotted (typically 1 hour).

o Games are played using rally scoring, where a point is earned on each play.

o Games 1 & 2 are to be played to 21 points, and if necessary, Game 3 plays to 15 points. Teams must win by 2 points.

o There is no “cap” to the number in points during a win-by-2 scenario, except during Summer Season when games have a limited amount of daylight. In this case games end at 25 points.



Referees & Calling Fouls/Infractions


All Volleyball games will be self-reffed by the teams participating. Unlike standard leagues, there will be no obligation on the part of any team to send a player to referee a match.


We want all BCS players to feel inclusive when playing in our Volleyball Leagues. It is our desire that our players recognize that everybody will be playing at differing skill levels, and to not call out, penalize, or diminish a player on the opposing team if they serve, pass, or hit the ball improperly, as they are just trying their best to keep the ball in-play. We recommend that before the match begins, the captains talk over which fouls or infractions they want to be less or more restrictive of, so that a fair and competitive balance of competition is upheld.


Our staff will monitor (i.e. not ref) all courts during the final round of playoffs and Championships. Staff members can be called upon to settle a dispute on a specific play if both teams cannot agree on one during the Championship matches. We will always do our best to be available for any and all questions, concerns, or discrepancies that may arise. 




Before a match starts, Team Captains (or designated player) will play a game of rock-paper-scissors. The winning Captain/Player will determine whether their team will serve the ball first or choose which side of the court they want to start on. They must choose one or the other and can’t take both. The teams will then alternate sides every-other game.


If a match goes to a third set, the Captains will play another game of rock-paper-scissors to determine whether they will, again, serve the ball first, or choose which side of the court they want to start on. In the 3rd set, teams will switch sides every 5 points to mitigate the impact of the sun & wind for both teams.


Serving the Ball, Player Rotation & Substitutions


The player who is serving is not restricted to serve the ball in one specific area/spot on the back line. The server is allowed to serve the ball anywhere along the back line and must be within the boundaries of the 2 sidelines. The Player who is serving the ball should keep their feet behind the boundary line until the ball is served. Players are allowed to serve overhand OR underhand. Serves that hit and go over the net to the opponents side are considered "live" good serves; provided the ball lands in-bounds or is played by the opposing team.


All players on the court MUST rotate positions. They are not allowed to stay in one position and just rotate in and out at the server position.


Here is the rotation setup for the ‘Diamond” defensive setup:






Here is the rotation setup for the ‘Triangle” defensive setup:



Beach Volleyball Triangle Defense Setup




With the Triangle Setup, the bottom right position doesn’t necessarily have to be designated Server spot (which is why it is not identified as such in the model above.) It could be the bottom middle, or the bottom left. However, whichever spot a team chooses, that is the designated position for the Server for the entirety of the match.


All Teams must rotate positions and stay within the rotation until the serve is made. Once the serve has been made, players on both sides of the net are then allowed to move freely, to any spot on the court, for the duration of the point. Once the point has concluded then they must return to their designated rotation spot before the next serve is made.


Example – Using Diamond Setup Rotation 1 Model above: Player 1 – Server, Player 3 – At the net. Once Player 1 serves the ball, Player 1 is allowed to run up and play at the net, while Player 3 drops back and plays in the back end of the court. Team A secures the point. Player 1 is still the server, and Player 3 must start back at the net until Player 1 serves the next ball.


Teams are allowed to sub only when their team rotates and can only sub at one of the four spots. If a team chooses to sub players at the server position (if they have more than 4 players that day), then that is the only spot during the entirety of the match where they can do so.





The ball can contact any part of the body – from the crown of the head, down to the foot. However, each contact must be simultaneous and the ball must rebound immediately and cleanly after each touch. Throughout the game, the ball must be contacted cleanly and not held, lifted, pushed, caught, carried or thrown by one or both hands. The ball cannot roll or come to rest on any part of a player’s body.



Each team is allowed a maximum of 3 successive contacts of the ball in order to return the ball to the opponent's side of the court. (Exception: In the action of blocking an attacking ball, the touch - or contact - resulting from the block attempt does not constitute one of the three successive contacts.)



Any player participating in a block shall have the right to make the next simultaneous contact, and such contact will count as the first of three hits allowed for the team.



Multiple contacts of the ball by a player is not allowed. Multiple Contact Exceptions include:

    • - A player making a simultaneous contact after a block.
    • - A player who is receiving the ball off a serve.
    • - A player who is attempting to dig a ball off of a hard-hit attack (i.e. “down ball”)
    • - If two players on the same team simultaneously contact the ball at the same time, this is considered only 1 of a team’s 3 contacts.



The player who is playing up at the net is not allowed to Block the Serve and is not allowed to attack the ball right after it crosses the net on a serve. They must pass the ball on their first contact. A ball that is passed on the 1st contact by the player at the net, but gets pushed over the net by the wind, is not a foul.



A contact of the ball using the fingers, hands or arms to direct the ball toward a teammate is a set. If a player uses their fingers/hands to set the ball, then the ball must come into contact with, and leave, both hands simultaneously to avoid a double-hit call.


In beach volleyball, no “open-hand setting” is allowed off of the serve (i.e. hands must be together or connected; they cannot be apart). Also in beach volleyball, if a player intentionally sends a ball over the net with his/her hands, and their shoulders are not square to the net, then it is considered unsportsmanlike play.



A set ball, using the player’s hands/fingers, can legally cross the net only in the direction in which a players shoulders are squarely facing (forward or backward). The players shoulders must be perpendicular to the net at the point of contact. Intentional redirecting of a ball on the set, over the net, is illegal. If the contact was an actual attempt to set their teammate, and the ball goes over the net, then this is not considered a foul.


Because BCS league games does not have referee enforcement for each game, this rule is difficult to enforce; however teams should avoid faking out the other team with directional setting (Directional setting applies to hand sets only, and does not apply to bump sets or “oversets” in which a player is attempting to set the ball to a teammate).




When a player sets the ball with their hands, the ball may have some spin on it as it is floating in the air after the player releases the ball. This would not be a foul, as long as there is minimal to no spin occurring after the release. If there is a generous amount of spin on the ball after the release, this would be indicative that the ball was not released properly and considered a double-hit.



Players may not run into, or touch, the net at any time while the ball is in play.  Player contact with the net in a manner not directly relating to or affecting the course of play is not a violation. Contact with hair or part of the uniform will not be considered a fault.


If opponents contact the net simultaneously, it shall constitute a double fault and the point shall be played over.



As long as it doesn’t interfere with the opponent’s play on the ball, players may partially or completely step into the opponent's side of the court during a rally. If a player interferes with an opponent’s legal play on the ball, a fault should be called. Interference can occur with or without contact with an opposing player or the opponent’s court. Contact between opponents is not always a fault.



Blocking is the action close to the net which intercepts the ball coming from the opponents’ side by making contact with the ball before, during or after it crosses the net.  Blocking or attacking a serve is prohibited. Redirecting the ball on a block is illegal.


Blocking of the ball across the net above the opponent's court shall be legal provided that such a block is:

(1) After a player of the attacking team has spiked the ball, or, in the referee's judgment, intentionally directed the ball into the opponent's court, or has exhausted their third allowable hit.

(2) After the opponents’ have hit the ball in such a manner that the ball would clearly cross the net if not touched by a player, provided no member of the attacking team is in a position to make a legal play on the ball

(3) If the ball is falling near the net and no member of the attacking team

could reasonably make a play on the ball



Some courts may have Antenna attached to the nets. Antennas are poles that are placed directly above the sidelines, that represent a boundary of play. Balls must pass over the net between the antennas to be considered in-play. If a ball crosses the net outside an antenna, or hits an antenna, then the ball is considered out and a point awarded to the opposing team.


Volleyball Tournaments


When Volleyball Tournaments are held, BCS may have to make “alterations” to our standard league rules and Captains/Teams will be notified beforehand if there are. Please note, that there may be some instances where these “alterations” could occur the day of the Tournament.


Drinking in public is illegal in California.


Drinking is strictly prohibited on the Beach and at the Parks where Volleyball is held. Any player found drinking will be asked to leave any Beach City Sports permitted area. If a player refuses to leave, it may result in a forfeit of their team’s game as well further punishment from the League Office.