Can you use your head in volleyball

If you’ve just started playing volleyball you may be wondering, can you use your head in volleyball? It may seem like a simple question but there’s a lot to discuss on the topic. The first section of this guide will deal with the technicalities of hitting the ball with your head, on purpose, or by accident. 

The second section will discuss the implications of such an action. For example, are there penalties? Can such an action harm your game? Or worse, can it cause physical or mental damage? All of these are valid concerns that we will address in detail.

Finally, the last second will explore why beginner players may be considering using their heads in volleyball. Whether an action like this can ever be considered strategic. In particular, we will look at two situations, one where you use your head to pass the ball to another member of your team, and another, where you use your head to hit the ball over the net. 

These are both very different scenarios as you will soon find out. So, let’s get started.

Can you use your head in volleyball?

As a beginner, these are all common queries to have. That’s why we have compiled this guide on everything you need to know about using your head on the court. The questions in any newbie’s mind regarding this topic would probably be something around these lines:

  • Is hitting the head against the ball allowed during the game?
  • What if the ball accidentally lands on my head?
  • When should I make use of my head in volleyball?
  • What other contacts are allowed during the game?

The rules of volleyball help ensure the safety of the players by banning certain touches and moves. Additionally, a code of conduct for players to abide by on the court helps ensure a fair outcome of the match and prevents any foul play.

What happens if the ball hits your head accidentally?

The FIVB is the global governing body for volleyball. While individual tournament rules may change depending on the location, division, league, or level of play, they are the ones that set the official standard. And FIVB rules clearly state, “The ball may touch any part of the body.”

This includes anything from your head to toe, as long as you don’t hold the ball for a long time, or make an unlawful play. Surprising, right? But let me tell you: this can happen more often in volleyball than you think, especially in high-level volleyball, where it is common to get hit in the head while shooting high above the net. 

Can you intentionally use your head in volleyball?

Can you use your head in volleyball

Intent often plays a big role in deciding whether something is okay or not. Sure, it’s fine for the ball to hit you by accident, but what if you purposefully decide to use your head to attack the ball? Are there different consequences if it’s part of your gameplay and strategy? More than that, is it a good play to make?

So, can you use your head in volleyball? Yes. Is it recommended? Not really. Why? Your group just gets three contacts before the ball must be given to the opposite side. As a strategy, it lacks substance since you can’t depend on it. Plus, based on how many other players have touched the ball with their head during that particular game you may be risking penalties.

What if the ball stays on your side?

Not that we’ve covered using your head to pass the ball over the net, there is another situation to consider. What if you use your head to hit the ball to pass it to another member of your team? The ball stays on your side of the net after all. Is this acceptable gameplay? Absolutely! 

There are no penalties for using your head this way. It may even allow you to score a phenomenal point. Again, using your head to hit the ball is alright, and may even be considered strategy, if you know the right time to do so. But scoring a point shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind during a match. You also need to consider safety, for yourself and everyone else on the court.

Are there drawbacks to hitting the ball with your head?

Volleyball players are different from soccer players, who work on heading consistently. Heading can be a troublesome skill to master in any sport since it is significantly harder to control the ball with your head instead of your arms. 

So if we’re talking strategy, the best option is to always be in control. And that doesn’t happen during a headshot. You have no clue about the direction in which it will go. And alas, disaster. 

What’s more? Many other factors discourage you from heading the ball. At present, volleyballs are lighter in weight than soccer balls. Objectively, you may think they present a lesser danger. Consider being hit in the head with a soccer ball and a volleyball. To be fair, you wouldn’t want any of those. But due to volleyballs being softer, perhaps you’ll just get a bruise as opposed to a soccer ball headshot is a definite concussion. 

But there’s another variable to consider, that is speed. Considering that top players can hit a volleyball at speeds of around 80 mph, regular hits to the head can cause long-term brain damage. Simultaneously, the fact that a volleyball is lighter than a soccer ball, makes it harder to control at any given speed. 

No matter how you slice it, normalizing this type of gameplay is dangerous for everyone involved. Safety on the court for teams on either side is of the utmost importance, which encouraging risky gameplay can be detrimental.

What to do on the volleyball court

If you’re new to Volleyball you might be wondering what touches are allowed in the game and if you’re doing it right. It’s important to know what actions and touches are legal in the sport and which can land you in trouble or cause harm to another teammate. 

Here is a list of all the touches and activity which is permissible in the sport and will allow a team to earn points.

  • The ball must be passed over the net in three hits or less. 
  • You can touch the ball with any part of the body so long as the ball rebounds immediately. 
  • If 2 players in the same team touch the ball simultaneously, it counts as one touch.
  • One may play the ball two times in a volley, but no more than that.

Generally, the rules for indoor and beach volleyball are the same. However, a few variations and extra regulations are in place in the case of sand/beach volleyball.

  • In a 4-person team, tipping is allowed.
  • A player can touch the ball twice as long as the contact is not successive.
  • When a ball comes in contact with a boundary line of the court it is considered within bounds.

What not to do in a volleyball match

While it is important to know what is permissible in the sport it is also essential to be aware of what is not. There are a few touches that players must keep in mind and avoid at all costs to avoid penalties during matches. The official overlooking the match, can at their discretion take away a serve from the team who commits any of these actions.

  • Players are not allowed to scoop, hold, and lift the ball. 
  • The ball may never be reached with an open-hand movement. 
  • The referee may deduct a point for loss of service or for purposefully postponing the game.

A few additional rules exist for beach or sand volleyball that differ from the indoor version of the game. Any of the following actions committed can result in penalization. 

  • The ball must not touch the body twice or more in succession. This is considered a double hit which is illegal in most cases except when played off a hard-driven spike ball.
  • With two players tipping is not permissible
  • The team receiving the ball is not allowed to spike the ball, i.e. hit the ball in the region directly above the volleyball net.
  • A special rule for the Co-Rec league is that in a 4-member team the server is not allowed to spike the ball.


Rules and regulations are essential to maintain the uniformity of a sport and have a single code of conduct for all players to abide by. By setting boundaries and allowances for certain actions and barring others, the safety and fairness of the sport are guaranteed. Players need to be well versed on the dos and don’ts of Volleyball before they can consider playing the sport at a competitive level.

While some practices are not strictly prohibited, they may still be generally discouraged. Although a player is allowed to hit the call with their head during the game it may not make good sense strategically and puts them at risk of light injury. In such cases, it is up to the player’s personal preferences and level of skill to devise strategies and take calculated risks within the bounds of the sport. 

While the many rules and restrictions of volleyball may seem confusing at first, with a little practice a player can master them in no time. When it comes to hitting the ball with your head, the best strategy is to avoid it. But if it happens? No worries! Just play on because your teammates won’t mind.