Sand Volleyball Rules & Regulations

Please ensure that you read and understand the Houston Sports & Social Club General Rules. They can be found here.

Houston Sports & Social Club General Sand Volleyball Rules


There is no maximum number of players allowed on a sand volleyball team roster; however players must be registered with Houston Sports & Social Club and must sign the Houston Sports & Social Club waiver to be able to participate. Please refer to the Houston Sports & Social Club General Rules for rules regarding roster adjustments and additional detail regarding waivers.


Please refer to the General Rules for details regarding player eligibility.


Houston Sports & Social Club expects all participants to play with the highest level of sportsmanship. Rude or demeaning behavior to umpires, the opposing team, and/or your own team members will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Unsportsmanlike behavior may result in that player being ejected from the game. An ejection may result in further suspension from participation in current and/or future Houston Sports & Social Club sports. An ejected player is required to leave the premises immediately. Refusal to leave the premises may result in a team forfeit and/or suspension.

Any disputes or complaints regarding the umpire’s handling of a game or ejection can be addressed with the league after the day of play in which the incident took place. On the day of the incident, the umpire’s decision will be considered final and disputes will not be addressed by the league.


There will be a 5 minute grace period for all games. If a team does not possess the minimum amount of players to start (6 on 6 league - minimum 4 players with a minimum 2 females; 4 on 4 league - minimum 2 players with a minimum 1 female; once the grace period has expired, the opposing team will receive a win for the first game of the match. Teams will combine players so the first game may be started on time. If the team does not possess the minimum number of players by the beginning of the second game (or 15 minutes past game time, whichever comes first), a forfeit will be assessed. Teams may continue to finish out the games but the opposing team will still receive the match win. (Please see section F below for details regarding forfeit fines)

6 on 6 leagues: Teams can never play more than 3 males on the court. Teams that are short players must designate a spot in their serving rotation for a “ghost” player where the missing player(s) would play in the rotation if they were present. When the “ghost” player rotates to the serving position, the team will automatically lose their serve. No points are awarded for a lost serve in this scenario. If a team is 2 players short, they would play with two “ghost” players. Players arriving late may automatically take over the “ghost” player’s position at any time during the game.

4 on 4 leagues:  Teams can never play more than 2 males on the court. Teams that are short players do not lose serves, but must still rotate serves between players. NOTE: Most tournaments allow up to 3 males on the court with at least 1 female to play a legal game. 


If a team does not have the minimum number of players by the start of the second game (or 15 minutes past game time, whichever comes first), a $50 forfeit fine will be assessed and given to the opposing team in the form of a bar tab, unless the team has enough players to play an officiated exhibition game (minimum of 2 players). If a team e-mails by 8am the day of the game for weekday leagues or by 4pm Friday for weekend leagues, stating that they will not be able to field a team, no fine will be assessed. This will allow notifications to reach the opposing team’s members and will allow the opposing coach to inform his team of the impending forfeit.

Please refer to the General Rules for additional details regarding forfeit fines.


Houston Sports & Social Club promotes responsible drinking; however, some fields do not allow alcoholic beverages. If this is the case, Houston Sports & Social Club staff members will be monitoring to ensure that no visible alcohol is present. If a fine is assessed against Houston Sports & Social Club for a player’s negligence in following the rules of the field, that player will be responsible to reimburse Houston Sports & Social Club for any fines or additional costs associated with the violation. A player may be suspended for such violations.


The winning team will be awarded 2 points.

The losing team will not be awarded any points.


Houston Sports & Social Club will provide all necessary equipment for volleyball. Only volleyballs provided by Houston Sports & Social Club will be used during the game. Teams may bring volleyballs for practice. Note: time between games is limited and may not allow for practice time.


Rock/Paper/Scissors will be played between the two captains to determine serve or side; best two out of three wins and picks either serve or side. Teams will rotate sides and serve after the completion of each game.


All games will be played using rally scoring where points will be awarded regardless of which team is serving. Each match will consist of the best of 3 games. The first 2 games will be played to 21 points and the third game will be played to 15 points. Play continues until a two point advantage is reached or until a team scores 25 points in the first 2 sets or 21 points in the third set with a one point advantage. The team that wins two games first shall be declared the winner. Teams may play a third consolation game if a winner has already been declared and time permits.


Each team is allowed 2 – 30 second timeouts per set. Timeouts do not carryover between sets.


NOTE: If your league is labeled as Open Division or indicates no gender rules the following does not apply.

6 on 6 leagues: A woman must hit the ball before it is returned over the net, unless the ball goes over on the first hit. A gender violation will occur (side out) if this does not happen.

4 on 4 leagues: There is no requirement for a female to hit the ball at any time.


Substitutions can only be made at the service position in the rotation, i.e. the substitute becomes the server. All substituting players must be behind the end line.

If a team illegally substitutes a player (not replaced at the service position), that team will lose their serve immediately. All players must relocate to their original position.

6 on 6 leagues: After each side out, players must rotate clockwise from the front right to back right position.

4 on 4 leagues: Players are not required to rotate positions but must rotate serves.


The ball is considered in when it touches the sand within the opposing team’s playing area, including the boundary lines.

A ball is considered out when the part of the ball which contacts the sand is completely outside the boundary line, touches any object outside the court, or touches the rope, post, net, etc., outside of the sidelines.

A team is entitled to a maximum of three hits (in addition to blocking) for returning the ball. If more are used, the team commits a 4 hit violation. Hits include unintentional hits.

A player may not hit the ball two times consecutively. The ball may touch any part of the body. The ball must be hit, not caught and/or thrown. The ball may touch various parts of the body only if they are touched simultaneously.

When a ball is set, there is no limit on how much the ball can rotate.


The following violations will result in a side out:

-       4 hit violation (see above)

-       Illegal touch (catch/throw/double contact)

-       Gender rule violation (6 on 6 leagues only)

-       Illegal substitution (see above)

-       Lift Violation - Prolonged contact between a player and the ball is known as a lift. The contact should continue in one fluid motion and the ball should not come to rest at any time in that motion.


A ball sent to the opponent’s court must travel over the net. The ball may touch the net, including on the service. A ball driven into the net may be recovered within the limits of the team’s 3 legal hits, except on the service. If the ball touches the net on a service and continues over to the opponent's side, the ball is live.

A player cannot break the plane of the net on a spike and a block. A player may go completely under the net as long as they neither touch the net nor interfere with the play. A player cannot touch the ball or an opponent in the opponent’s space before or during the opponents hit.

Contact with the net is a fault, even when a player’s momentum causes them to contact the net (excessive net faults will result in that player suspended from the game).


When the serving team wins the rally, the player who served before, serves again. When the receiving team wins the rally, it gains the right to serve.

Receiving players cannot block a serve.

The server must not touch the end line with their foot or a fault will be called.

6 on 6 leagues: When the receiving team wins the rally, they rotate before actually serving. The player moves from the front right position to the back right position to serve. Jump serves are not allowed.

4 on 4 leagues: Players do not need to rotate positions, but must rotate serves. Jump serves are allowed.

3 on 3 leagues: Players do not need to rotate positions, but must rotate serves. Jump serves are allowed.


A block contact is not counted as a team hit, and a team is entitled to three hits to return the ball. The first hit after the block may be executed by any player, including the one who blocked the ball. Blocks are not allowed on a serve.



Playoff seeding will be determined by the best overall records. In the event that 2 teams are tied with the same record, head-to-head matchups will determine higher seeding whenever possible. When head-to-head matchups cannot clearly determine a higher seed, or when 3 or more teams are tied, tiebreakers will be determined in the following order:

1)    Head-to-head matchups (for 2 way ties when possible, described above)

2)    Highest team set differentials for the season

3)    Highest team total sets won

4)    Lowest team total sets lost

5)    Highest team Power Index

6)    Coin Flip


Any rules not mentioned above follow those of the USAV