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Rules changes for high school volleyball and softball in 2019

There are a few rules and editorial changes for high school volleyball and softball in 2019. Below are the changes issued this past Spring by the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS).


2019 NFHS Volleyball Rule Changes

2-2-2, 2-3j (NEW), 2-4-1e(NEW), 2-4 PENALTIES 3 (NEW), 9-8-1i: When the ball strikes the cables and/or the diagonal poles used to retract ceiling suspended net systems the referee will stop play and determine if the ball was playable. The referee will signal out-of-bounds or replay.

Rationale: Establishes the cables and diagonal poles used to retract suspended net systems as restricted play and aligns officials’ treatment of a ball striking either the cables and/or the diagonal poles.

4-2-1, 4-2-1a (NEW), 4-2-1e (NEW), 4-2-2 (NEW): Eliminates the solid-colored uniform requirements, establishes that the libero uniform must clearly contrast with his/her teammates’ uniforms and reorganizes the legal uniform rule.

Rationale: Clarifies the requirements for all legal uniforms and simplifies the requirements for the contrasting libero uniform maintaining the compliance of all currently compliant team and libero uniform jerseys.

4-2-4b: Eliminates the use of double zero (00) as a uniform number option.

Rationale: Eliminates confusion surrounding the signaling of “00” and “0”.

4-2-4c: Beginning with the 2023 season the body of the uniform number must clearly contrast with the uniform top regardless of borders. This will eliminate the allowance of borders to provide contrast between the number and the uniform number.

Rationale: Allows officials and scorers to easily identify uniform numbers.

5-5-1b; 5-6-1b; 7-1-1a; 7-1 PENALTIES 1; 7-1-2; 7-1-4; 7-1-4 PENALTIES 1, 2: Requires the second referee to collect team rosters at the prematch conference while allowing changes to be made until 10 minutes remain on the pregame clock and establishes lineups to be submitted to the second referee before each set.

Rationale: Eliminates warmup interruptions by officials requesting rosters with 10 minutes remaining on the warmup clock, allowing for a smoother warmup process for coaches, players, officials and scorers.

5-9-2a NOTE: Establishes that the line judge shall take their position and move in line with the extension of the end line when the ball is being served near the line judge’s position replacing the old technique to move directly back in line with the sideline.

Rationale: Allows the line judge to watch for foot contact with the end line and move quickly back for a view of the sideline. This is a more appropriate position and transition for line judges. 8-1-6, 8-2-5g (NEW), 8-2-6d: Establishes that the ball remains dead when tossed for serve and it touches any part of the backboard or supports hanging in a vertical position over the serving area and is an illegal serve (Signal 13) and not a service fault.

Rationale: Accurately reflects the action since the ball is not contacted for serve.


2-1-5: Clarifies that the attack line shall be measured from the edge of the attack line farthest from the center line to the axis of the center line.

4-2-7: Clarifies the penalty for the removal of any part of the uniform top or bottom as a yellow card charged to the coach for unsporting conduct.

5-5-3b(26): Provides additional instructions for the second referee when conducting the coin toss prior to the deciding set by requiring the second referee to communicate with the first referee the serving team and the proper team benches.

8-1-6, 8-2-5g: Establishes the proper signal for a tossed ball that contacts a backboard or its supports hanging in a vertical position over the serving area is officials signal 13.

NFHS Official Signals Chart: Removes signal 7 “Legal Back-Row Attack” from the chart and establishes the signal as an informal officials’ signal in the NFHS Officials Manual renumbering remaining signals.

2019-20 Volleyball Points of Emphasis Informal Officials Signals Ball-handling Side Folding Retractable Backboards

2019 NFHS Softball Rules Changes

1-1-7, 2-22-4, Table 5-1, 5-1-1o: The media shall be prohibited from being in live-ball area. The home team or game management may designate an area for the media in dead ball territory.

Rationale: Clarifies that game management may designate a media area in dead ball territory.

1-5-2a: The knob may be molded, lathed, welded or adjustable, but must be permanently fastened.

Rationale: Clarifies that an adjustable knob is permissible, provided the knob is permanently fastened by the manufacturer. 1-8-4: Defensive players are permitted to wear a shield on their face/head protection in the field but it must be constructed of a molded, rigid material that is clear and permits 100 percent (no tint) allowable light transmission.

Rationale: In an effort to promote risk minimization, tinted eye shields are prohibited for defensive face/head protection.

6-1-1 PENALTY, 6-1-2 Thru 4 PENALTY, 6-2-1 PENALTY, 6-2-7 PENALTY: in the case of an illegal pitch, the batter is awarded a ball. The penalty that permitted base runners to be awarded one base without liability to be put out is removed.

Rationale: The new language creates more balance between offense and defense. The batter should receive the award rather than runners already on base.


2-65-2: Clarifies there can be no appeal of the play that occurred prior to the umpire awarding an intentional walk. 6-1-2a, b: Clarifies what motion constitutes the start of the pitch and when the step back of the non-pivot foot may be taken.

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