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Volleyball Substitution Rules: Complete Guide



Volleyball Substitution is an act by which a player enters the game to occupy the position of another player, who must leave the court at that moment.

ATTENTION! The information described in this article is about normal substitutions, which means, no substitutions involving the Libero. To know more about that kind of substitution, read Libero Rules.

When the substitution is enforced through injury to a player in play this may be accompanied by the coach (or game captain) showing the corresponding hand signal.

Substitution in Volleyball

Substitution in Volleyball


A player of the starting line-up may leave the game, but only once in a set, and re-enter, but only once in a set, and only to his/her previous position in the line-up.

  • Example: The player named John is substituted by the player named Joseph. John is allowed to re-enter the game, but only in the place of Joseph. After that, John cannot be substituted until the end of the set.

A substitute player may enter the game in place of a player of the starting line-up, but only once per set, and he/she can only be substituted by the same starting player.

  • Example: Mari is a substitute player on her team, on the first set she had substituted Carla. Now Mari is playing and can be substituted only by Carla. After that, Mari is not allowed to re-enter the game on the same set.


A player (except the Libero, second Libero or their regular replacement player) who cannot continue playing due to injury or illness, should be substituted legally. If this is not possible, the team is entitled to make an EXCEPTIONAL substitution.

An exceptional substitution means that any player who is not on the court at the time of the injury/illness, except the Libero, second Libero or their regular replacement player, may be substituted into the game for the injured/ill player. The substituted injured/ill player is not allowed to re-enter the match.

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An exceptional substitution cannot be counted in any case as a regular substitution but should be recorded on the score sheet as part of the total of substitutions in the set and the match.


An EXPELLED or DISQUALIFIED player must be substituted immediately through a legal substitution. If this is not possible, the team is declared INCOMPLETE


A substitution is illegal if it exceeds the limitations indicated in the Rules (except the case of Exceptional Substitution), or an unregistered player is involved.

When a team has made an illegal substitution and the play has been resumed the following procedure shall apply, in sequence:

The team is penalized with a point and service to the opponent;

The substitution must be rectified;

The points scored by the team at fault since the fault was committed are canceled; the opponent’s points remain valid.


Volleyball Substitution Rules

  1. Substitution must be carried out within the substitution zone.
  2. A substitution shall only last the time needed for recording the substitution on the score sheet, and allowing entry and exit of the players.
  3. The actual request for substitution starts at the moment of the entrance of the substitute player(s) into the substitution zone, ready to play, during an interruption. The coach does not need to make a substitution hand signal except if the substitution is for injury or before the start of the set.
  4. If the player is not ready, the substitution is not granted and the team is sanctioned for a delay
  5. The request for substitution is acknowledged and announced by the scorer or 2nd referee, by use of the buzzer or whistle respectively. The 2nd referee authorizes the substitution
  6. For FIVB, World and Official Competitions, numbered paddles are used to facilitate the substitution (including when electronic devices are used).
  7. If a team intends to make simultaneously more than one substitution, all substitute players must enter the substitution zone at the same time to be considered in the same request. In this case, substitutions must be made in succession, one pair of players after another. If one is illegal, the legal one(s) is/are granted and the illegal is rejected and subject to a delay sanction



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