Red Card in Volleyball – What to Know and How to Avoid?

Volleyball can get pretty intense when things heat up. Players are diving all over the place for digs, spiking the ball with force, and blocking powerhouse hits at the net.

Before you know it, someone crosses the line, and the referee has to step in to take control.

The refs use yellow and red cards to keep players in check, similar to what happens in soccer. A yellow card is just a warning, so it’s not that harsh.

But if the referee pulls out that dreaded red, that means trouble for you and your team. You lose a point immediately, and to make matters worse, you also need to sit out the set.

red card in volleyball

So, what exactly does it take to get a red card in volleyball?

Sometimes, players lose their cool in the heat of the moment. Other times, you might accidentally end up offending the refs. Be it:

  • Arguing over a bad call
  • Acting out disrespectfully towards the opposition


  • Violating any of the rules of the game

Don’t worry – we’ll walk you through all the possibilities in this article. So, let’s get started.

What Does a Red Card Mean in Volleyball?

When the referee whips out that red card, we all know that it doesn’t bode well for the player on the receiving end. But what exactly does it mean in volleyball?

A group of player are standing in a volleyball court, curious about what does a red card mean in volleyball.

Well, getting a red card is like getting kicked out of the game. In volleyball, if you get issued a red card, you need to get off the court and sit on the substitution bench for the remainder of the active set. To make matters worse, the opposition team also gets awarded a penalty point.

In other words, getting a red card means you immediately put your team on the back foot. And they also need to finish the set without you.

What Can Lead to a Red Card in Volleyball?

Red card in volleyball indicates a serious offense. Now Volleyball is a pretty forgiving sport. Even before the ref gives you a yellow card he issues you a verbal warning.

So, if you got a red card in the game, then there must be something that you did to offend the referee. You can’t receive a red card straight out of the blue.

what can lead to a red card in volleyball

Here are the main reasons why you can get issued a red card in volleyball:

  • Verbally abusing officials or opponents: Losing your cool and aggressively mouthing off at refs over calls or trash-talking other players in an insulting manner is an easy way to get yourself a red card in volleyball.
  • Dangerous behavior: Intentionally spiking a ball right at another player, undercutting someone at the net, or making physical contact that could cause harm to the opposition is grounds for issuing a red card.
  • Delaying the game: Stalling, intentionally delaying your serve or play, or refusing to resume action when instructed can also lead to a red card.
  • Repeated violations: The referee can also give you a red card if you’re continuously and deliberately committing infractions and ignoring warnings from the officials.
  • Cheating/deception: pretending to be injured, lying about a fault, etc., to try to gain an advantage is another reason why the ref might warrant a red card.
  • Disobeying officials: Refusing to comply with instructions, orders, or disciplinary actions from referees is strictly prohibited in volleyball. Doing so can also result in a red card.
  • Physical aggression: Aggressive physical contact with the opposition or the ref over a call or the state of the game can lead to a red card.
  • Offensive conduct: The referee can penalize you with a red card for disrespecting the officials or opponents with offensive gestures or insults
  • Using banned substances: Using performance-enhancing or recreational drugs results in an immediate red card.

The main idea here is that mouthing off at the refs or the opponents or going for dangerous and unnecessary plays are the main reasons behind red cards. Violating the rules intentionally to get an unfair advantage over the opposition is also a strict no-no in this sport.

Red Cards vs. Yellow Cards in Volleyball?

red cards vs. yellow cards in volleyball

Both yellow and red cards are used to sanction dangerous, disruptive, or unsportsmanlike behaviors. However, the meaning and consequences of each card are different.

A yellow card serves as a warning for minor misconduct. It has no immediate effect on the state of the game. That means even if you get a yellow card, you’re not getting any game penalties. It simply signals that your behavior is unacceptable and needs adjustment.

A red card, on the other hand, is issued for major offenses. Getting a red card means the player gets disqualified for the rest of that set. The team that received the red also loses a point automatically.

So, while a yellow card gives you a stern warning about your infractions, you’re not getting punished for it yet. A red card means you’re getting disciplined. However, red cards typically are not given out of the blue. It’s only given when a player shows repeated offenses.

Simply put, yellow cards are a slap on the wrist whereas red cards have immediate and tangible consequences. Smart volleyball teams quickly adjust after yellows to ensure their star players remain on the court.

Let’s Recap

And there you have it – the main reasons you might see a player sent off with a red card in volleyball. Losing your cool, endangering others, disrespecting officials, and breaking the rules are all surefire ways to earn an early exit.

While Competition can get heated, maintaining good conduct and fair play is key. Play aggressively but also safely.

Hopefully, our in-depth exploration of the red card in volleyball could help answer any questions that you had. Good luck!

ABOUT Harvey Meale

As a former international level volleyball player, I now spend my days working out and writing for Volleyball Vault. I look for ways to bring my wealth of experience and knowledge to create unique and insightful perspectives in my content.