‘Side Out’ in Volleyball: What Does It Really Mean?

The volleyball that we all know and love today is an exciting sport. We often see the game heat up within moments as the referee blows the whistle, signaling the rally to begin.

But it wasn’t always like this. Back in the olden days, volleyball’s scoring system was set up quite differently from what we know today. The rally scoring system of modern volleyball became a part of the sport only after 1999.

Before this method, volleyball was played with a side out rule. Simply put, this rule stated that the team that was in charge of serving the ball was the only team that was allowed to score a point. The opponent had to fight to earn the right to serve. But there’s more to the story here.

side out in volleyball

So, get ready for a journey through volleyball’s rich legacy to better grasp an integral piece of volleyball lingo!

Where Did Side Out Come From?

The term “side out” has been a core part of volleyball terminology for decades and traces back to the early origins of the sport. In fact, if you go back to the origin of volleyball’s invention in the late 19th century, you’ll find the side out there since the beginning.

Where Did Side Out Come From

Volleyball was first created as a casual activity for picnics. However, the game quickly grew in popularity and eventually started being recognized as an international sport.

But for it to become a truly worthy game of champions, there had to be a concrete set of rules that drove the game. That’s why setting up a rule book became essential at that point.

In the initial rulebooks, it was decided that only the serving team could score points. That means that even if the receiving team manages to win the rally, they wouldn’t earn any actual points. When you think about it today, it wasn’t really a fair rule.

The receiving team at that time would have to earn the right to serve the ball by scoring a point against the serving team. In other words, to get on the side that can actually score, they would first have to score a point against the serving team.

This process of winning the right to serve by scoring a point against the server is what’s known as the side out rule. As of 1999, volleyball uses a faster-paced rule where both the receiving and serving teams can score points. The side out rule is no longer a part of the game.

Why Do They Say “Side Out in Volleyball”?

Why Do They Say “Side Out in Volleyball”

As we said, the side out rule in volleyball has long been put to grave. In the modern era, FIVB has made impactful changes to the rules and made the game more dynamic and exciting.

So, here’s the big question – why does that familiar shout of “side out!” still echo in gyms? Don’t both teams score points now regardless of who is serving?

Even though rally scoring has since made volleyball less one-sided in terms of points, the phrase has stuck around. That familiar yell of “side out!” continues to resound after hard-fought rallies lead to crucial shifts of serve control.

While today’s rally scoring indeed allows either team to score points, the team that holds the right to serve still holds power. Earning the right to serve for the receiving team almost always proves advantageous.

Strong serves to keep opponents scrambling, enabling the serving team to set up leaks in the opponent’s defenses for their attackers to exploit. So even now, being the “side” to send that crucial first hit carries value, letting teams assert offensive tactics.

When the receiving side manages to claim that side out, their defenders can take a breath while their attackers start hunting for opportunity.
So, the next time you hear it, remember that it calls back to the root of the game itself.

Impact of Side Out in Modern Volleyball

modern volleyball side out impact

So, by now, you’re probably wondering, with all these radical rule changes over the years, whatever happened to the classic side out scoring that started it all? Does it still factor in at all or has rally scoring just made it obsolete?

The rally scoring system that we use now came out in 1999 when FIVB, volleyball’s global governing body, wanted the game to become faster-paced. This was a total game-changer for the sport!

In the old-school side out method, only the squad serving could actually score points when they won rallies. The team stuck receiving had to fight just to win back the serve possession. No glory for them except briefly getting to be the temporary “offense” after the crowd yelled, “Side out!”

But rally scoring shook things up by allowing both teams to score on every single rally, no matter which team was serving at the time. Now the receiving teams can also add precious points to the scoreboard with their excellent returns. Servers were no longer the sole point-winners in the game.

This change made the games significantly faster while also making it less punishing for the team on the receiving end. However, that doesn’t mean the original side-out concepts are gone entirely.

Although the receiver can score points directly, gaining the service right still remains an extremely valuable advantage. Professional teams are always set up with a key server who can keep their opponents frantically scattering across the backline.

So, even though side out scoring system has gone extinct, achieving the right to serve still remains a priority for the players.

Now That We’re Here

So, there you have it – the full story of the iconic “side out” in volleyball! From its origins in early scoring frameworks to how it powered strategic serve-centric games for decades to its lingering impacts despite rule changes.
Hopefully, our in-depth exploration of what side out means in volleyball could help you understand the concept clearly. 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.