What is Sideout Scoring

The game of volleyball is all about who scores the most points. There are many different aspects to scoring, but it starts when one team serves and their opponent receives- which means that if they get a point or not on what we call “side out.” Now there’s an interesting change in meaning for this term too!

What is sideout scoring in Volleyball?

Sideout scoring in volleyball refers to the traditional scoring system where a team can only score a point when they are serving. In this system, the serving team has the opportunity to earn a point by successfully executing a serve that the opposing team fails to return or handle properly. If the receiving team successfully returns the serve and the serving team fails to score a point, the serve is considered a “sideout,” and the receiving team gains the right to serve. This back-and-forth exchange continues until one team reaches the predetermined score required to win the set. In sideout scoring, each possession of the serve is crucial, as it is the only opportunity to directly earn points.

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A sideout before had been used by players as simply referring to when only one side could score; now however, to avoid confusion with its traditional usage (only teams were able serve), rules officials have renamed them rallies instead – so don’t be surprised if you hear someone refer to a sideout or rally for this very reason.

How Can A Sideout Be Won in Volleyball?

  1. When the team who served remains in control of the rally and gets a point on their opponent’s side
  2. If their opponents get a point in return.

So basically how it works is that the first team to score wins the rally.  Then they serve, and this process continues until one of the teams reaches 21 points.

Volleyball is a game of strategy and timing. Scoring can seem daunting at first, but there are only six basic rules that you need to know! A side out refers to when the serving team gets one point on their scorecard; however this meaning has changed over time because now sides circulate among players instead- they become opportunities for scoring or passing before reaching 10 points (like in “Rally”).

The system behind volleys was altered after volleyball became professionalized: previously called “pens” these days we call them rallies which means both teams get another chance during each match When playing doubles most people play with two sets so try not let your partner down!

How Does Sideout Scoring Work?

To better understand sideout scoring, let’s break it down step by step:

  1. Service: The game begins with one team serving the ball to the opposing team. The server stands behind the service line and attempts to initiate the rally by hitting the ball over the net and into the opposing team’s court.
  2. Reception: The receiving team’s primary objective is to successfully pass the serve and set up an offensive play. They must aim to receive the serve cleanly and accurately, allowing their team to execute an effective attack.
  3. Rally: Once the serve is received, a rally ensues. The team in possession of the ball (the receiving team after a successful reception) attempts to maintain control and execute a successful attack. Meanwhile, the opposing team aims to defend and prevent their opponents from scoring.
  4. Sideout: A sideout occurs when the serving team fails to win the rally, either due to an error or a successful defensive play by the receiving team. When a sideout occurs, the receiving team gains possession of the ball, and the right to serve switches to their side.
  5. Scoring: In sideout scoring, only the serving team can score points. They have the opportunity to earn a point if they win the rally and the opposing team fails to sideout. A point is awarded to the serving team for each successful rally they win.
  6. Rotation: After each sideout, the players on both teams rotate their positions clockwise. This ensures that all players have an equal opportunity to serve and prevents any positional advantage.
  7. Continuation: The game continues with the receiving team becoming the serving team and vice versa. The cycle of serving, receiving, and sideout scoring continues throughout the match.

Strategies for Sideout Scoring

To maximize their chances of scoring during sideout opportunities, teams employ various strategies. Here are a few commonly used tactics:

  1. Strong Serving: Serving plays a crucial role in sideout scoring. Teams often focus on developing powerful and accurate serves to put pressure on the receiving team and create scoring opportunities.
  2. Effective Reception: The receiving team aims to pass the serve accurately and set up a favorable attacking situation. Strong reception skills and communication among teammates are vital in executing successful sideout plays.
  3. Versatile Attacks: Teams employ a diverse range of attacking strategies, including spikes, tips, and dumps, to overcome the opposing team’s defense and earn points during sideout opportunities.
  4. Solid Defense: A strong defensive setup is crucial in preventing the serving team from winning the rally. Quick reflexes, good positioning, and effective blocking and digging contribute to successful sideout defense.

Side-out scoring explained

A rally consists of a series of playing acts that determine each point from the time the ball is served until the ball goes out of bounds. The serving team scores a point when the opposing team fails to execute any of the following actions:

  • serve properly so that it goes into play from the correct service zone
  • return the ball before it bounces twice in their court, or they fail to return the ball over the net
  • let the ball bounce once in their court before they return it
  • touch the ball with anything other than the net provided for them to hit the ball
  • take more than three steps when they hit the ball
  • touch or cross over into their own court before they return the ball
  • let the ball pass outside their court, including letting it bounce out

Rally Scoring

When a team fails to return the ball over the net, or when the ball goes out of bounds, commits an infraction, or makes a service fault, it loses the rally and its side-out score is recorded by an official. Side-outs on both teams alternate back and forth during the course of the game. Each side-out score is worth one point for that team.

Rally is a five-game set with the first to 21 points wins. The winner of each game goes on to face off in the next, until someone wins the fifth and final game.

Many players and coaches become intimidated by the rules and terminology of volleyball, but there really is only a handful of actions that are tracked by officials.

In sideout scoring, each set is played to a maximum of 15 points, and the team must have at least a two-point advantage. According to USA Volleyball, the team scoring the 14th point serves to begin the next set.

Side out is a term familiar with many veteran players, who have been in the game for a long time like those of us here at Volleyball Gear Guide. It is also used in other sports involving a net and court, such as basketball; however, in the game of volleyball side out refers to when a team loses possession of the ball due to errors.


Sideout scoring is a fundamental aspect of volleyball that determines which team has the opportunity to earn points during a rally. Understanding this scoring system is essential for players, coaches, and enthusiasts who want to appreciate the strategic elements of the game. By mastering the skills involved in serving, reception, and sideout execution, teams can enhance their scoring potential and overall performance on the court.

At Volleyball Gear Guide, we strive to provide accurate and comprehensive information about all aspects of volleyball. In this article, we will explore the concept of sideout scoring, an essential element of the game. Understanding sideout scoring is crucial for players, coaches, and enthusiasts alike. Let’s dive into the details and shed light on this fundamental aspect of volleyball.






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