At a volleyball qualifier out-of-state this weekend, someone mentioned how nice it was that parents and spectators no longer switch sides of the court between sets. Some people would get up and move. Some wouldn't. It caused unnecessary drama between teams.
Then it occurred to me there’s a delicate etiquette among volleyball spectators - some of which is unspoken.
A few simple acts of kindness make a huge difference for teams on the court and spectators on the sidelines.
Let’s take a look at courtside protocol.
~AZ Volleyball Mom
Sportsmanship isn’t just for the players on the court. It extends to coaches and fans alike.
Spectators engage in good sportsmanship by respecting all players - on BOTH sides of the court. Yes, even opponents. Respect should also extend to game officials, line judges, and those working the scoring table.
In fact, coaches are typically the first role models to teach players good behavior on the court. “Teaching your team good sportsmanship and respect for officials, teammates, opponents and volunteers will carry over to when an actual competition takes place,” Special Olympics Coaching Guide.
Trash talk and swearing can lead to a warning card and loss of points for your team or expulsion from the facility.
Seating is limited. So, who gets to sit courtside?
Always check ahead of time to find out whether you may bring in your own chairs or if seating/bleachers are provided. The people filling seats around the court should be spectators of the team currently on the court. Because seating is limited, athletes and spectators waiting for a later game should find alternative gathering spaces and seating.
Sit off to the side of the court. Game officials may ask you to back up. The goal is to make sure athletes chasing volleyballs outside the court are not injured!! Please keep the edge of the court free of tripping hazards.
When you leave a seat, it’s customary to clean up any trash around you and be sure to double check you’ve taken your food, water bottles, bags, clothing with you when you leave.
Leave the seating area as neat and clean as you would want it to be when you arrive.
If you are moving from one court to another location, you may do so by walking around the court. A few rules of etiquette can prevent a delay in the game…
No doubt many calls by the officials are subjective. Understanding the game and calls makes for a much more enjoyable experience. You can find USA Volleyball Officials’ Hand Signals for indoor volleyball here.
Finding referees to officiate games is becoming increasingly difficult. You can help keep volleyball competition a positive experience by treating officials with respect. Without them, we are unable to provide fair matches for teams.
“Every contact made by each team must be judged; an official's decision may not be agreeable to all participants and spectators, but the decision is final. No useful purpose is served by stating disagreement or shouting derogatory remarks, nor do such actions teach respect for authority,” Junior Olympic Volleyball Program.
Remember that every team has ref assignments during their tournament day. Cursing at and/or intimidating the reffing team members is never acceptable. These are junior players.
If you’d like to become a game official, please check out our Officials webpage.
Find an area at the back of the court or off to the right side of the back of the court to set up your camera. The line judge is placed at the back left which would block your view.
Be mindful of your tripod near seating and ask spectators if they mind where you are setting up.
Let those around your camera know when you are rolling and remind them of a hot mic. While spectators should be mindful of what they say, it’s always best to give them a gentle reminder that what they’re saying can be heard.
Do not block spectators’ view with your camera equipment.
Most local gym facilities do not allow any food or drinks inside. Only water is acceptable to bring into the playing area.
At out-of-state tourneys, check food and drink guidelines before you go. If food and drinks are allowed and even sold at the event, be sure to toss out your own trash and help keep the courtside seating area clean and free of tripping hazards.
THE "24 HOUR RULE" EXPLAINED
Enjoy the games and cherish every moment. My volleyball daughter is graduating from high school this year and it's sad to know this is the end of our club experience. Our kids are only little for a short while. You are the creator of the memories you make with them in their most formative years. Make them proud with respectful courtside manners.