Yellow and red card volleyball  [6 tips to avoid them]

How to avoid a red card volleyball? Volleyball is a dynamic and strategic game. It demands the players’ top physical shape, strategic thinking, and fair play. One of the vital aspects of the game that makes it even more thrilling is the issuing of penalty cards. That moment can easily become crucial for the game result. 

That’s why we are talking about it today. Penalty cards in volleyball play a similar role as the same cards in soccer: they ensure that, in the heat of the battle, the main principles of sportsmanship are not forgotten.

In this article, I’ll tell you when you can see the display of colored cards and why that often plays a crucial role in the game.

I’ve prepared a list of the most likely scenarios that lead to yellow and red cards and the consequences that follow.

Even if you don’t play volleyball but love the game, and watching the matches thrills and excites you, you’ll enjoy the game much better if you know the rules and understand the meaning of the penalty cards. I do, for sure.

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Yellow and red card in volleyball: decoding 

Yellow and red cards are the means of communication between the referees and players. They ensure that the spirit of fair play never breaks during the game. Emotions run high during a match, and this passion may get the situation out of control if not tackled. Let’s see what stands behind these cards on the court.

Yellow card: a warning

The yellow card means an official warning. By issuing yellow cards, referees signal that a player, a head coach their assistant, or a team member has committed minor misconduct. The scenarios can vary from unsportsmanlike behavior to risky play.

By showing you a card, the referee tries to curb bad behavior before it escalates. I noticed that usually after receiving a yellow card, the offending player or coach understands that any repetition of the minor misconduct may lead to more severe consequences. And the record is made in the score sheet.

Red card: severe penalty

The red card in volleyball means a more serious penalty, and the consequences are often dramatic.

Players, head coaches, or other members of the team receive when, according to the referee’s decisions, the rules were severely violated, and that posed a risk to the integrity of the match.

The red card means that the player commits a serious offense, and the same player is immediately expelled from the match. That leaves the team with one less player for the remainder of the match. It’s a severe punishment and, from my experience, can easily cause the team a victory.

Red and yellow cards in tandem

It doesn’t happen often, but during a volleyball match, a referee may show both yellow and red cards together in the same hand. This is really bad. I saw it only a handful of times when a very serious offense was committed.

After the display, the offending player or, in some cases, a coach not only exits the match but may also face additional consequences, like restrictions for the upcoming games. Sometimes, a team can have one point removed from their score.

Yellow card scenarios

Let’s look closer and explore what kind of behavior may cause the yellow card display. First of all, remember that issuing a yellow card is not arbitrary; it’s a response by referees whose job is to maintain order and uphold the standards of fair play.

Unsportsmanlike behavior

In my experience of watching volleyball matches and playing myself, one of the most common reasons for a yellow card is unsportsmanlike conduct. The patterns can be different, of course: verbal taunts, rude gestures, or showing disrespect to opponents, teammates, or officials in some other way.

The yellow card is a formal warning, signaling that the referee sees what a player or coach is doing and urges them to rein in their conduct and refocus on the game.

Dangerous play

We know how dynamic volleyball is with its sometimes acrobatic moves. If a player’s actions threaten the safety of others on the court, the referee may issue a yellow card as a precaution. I got my first yellow card for a reckless spike, but it can also be intentional contact or any other behavior that endangers other players.

Minor misconduct

Sometimes, the referee issues a yellow card for minor faults that, if not corrected, can quickly escalate. I’m sure you saw such technical violations as delays in serving, infringement of substitution rules, or something similar. The yellow card, in such cases, is a reminder to follow the protocols.

Verbal warning ignored

Referees often give a verbal warning before issuing a yellow card. In the heat of the game, people get excited, and things happen.

But if this initial caution is ignored, the yellow card becomes the next step. 

Red card scenarios 

The red card in volleyball is usually a signature of a critical moment when the stakes are high, and the consequences of a player’s actions are grave. Let’s look at the common situations when the red card appears, often changing the result of the match.

Blatant disregard for rules

Referees don’t issue the red card lightly; it happens when a player, coach, or team official disregards the rules blatantly. When individuals keep on violating regulations and ignoring warnings. So the referee reaches for the red card.

Physical altercations

All the teamwork and camaraderie of volleyball may be thrown out of the window during heated moments and lead to physical fights. When a player gets aggressive and puts the safety of others at risk, the red card becomes necessary. I saw ugly fights even during the matches of the highest possible levels.

Unsportsmanlike conduct escalated

If the player who’s been shown a yellow card keeps on with the unsportsmanlike behavior, the situation can escalate. The referee considers it a severe violation, shows the red card, and gets the remove the offender removed from the match.

Dangerous or reckless play

Intentional and reckless play that can endanger other players can result in a red card. It doesn’t matter if it’s a deliberate attempt to harm an opponent or just recklessness. The red card signals that such behavior is intolerable.

Accumulation of yellow cards

Sometimes, a player may receive a red card after several yellow cards that they got in the same match. The referee shows that such persistent misconduct will not be tolerated. 

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6 Best Tips to steer clear of volleyball penalty cards

I want to finish my article by giving you some handy tips that I always used when I played volleyball. They are easy and will help you avoid the flash of a penalty card. 

Know the volleyball rules: ignorance is not bliss on the volleyball court. Every player and coach should be aware of the regulations governing the game. What is a foul, risky play, or unsportsmanlike behavior?

Knowing the answers will help you avoid the behavior that may cost your team the victory. 

Maintain composure: volleyball, like any intense sport, can make emotions spike, but staying calm even in the face of aggression is crucial. Avoid reacting impulsively to calls, plays, or interactions with an opposing team. A calm demeanor will keep you focused on the game.

Respect referee decisions: referees are the ultimate arbiters on the court, and their decisions should be respected. Even if they seem unfair, don’t argue and openly challenge the referee’s decision. It’s risky and may result in penalty cards for a volleyball player.

Focus on playing the game and leave the rest to the referees. If you got penalized, try not to do it again in the same match.

Prioritize team communication: communication in the team is vital in avoiding misunderstandings that could lead to penalty cards. Everyone should be on the same page in terms of strategies, substitutions, and on-court conduct. That will minimize the chances of receiving penalty cards.

Embrace the spirit of fair play: volleyball is about playing with integrity and fairness. Respect both teammates and opponents. Discourage aggression within the team. A commitment to fair game will minimize the likelihood of penalty cards.

Learn from past mistakes: if you have got a yellow card, view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Continue playing and be more careful. Learning from past mistakes will decrease the chances of receiving additional penalty cards.

By following these tips, players, coaches, and team officials can avoid the unwelcome display of penalty cards and contribute to ethical conduct in volleyball. 

What is a purple card in volleyball?

This card is not internationally recognized (not by the Federation Internationale de Volleyball) but has been used by some leagues for a few years. It’s been used in Arizona, for example, since 2022. A purple card, unlike yellow and red ones, is not for the players but for the fans. The decision to use the card was caused by the aggressive behavior of the fans during the matches.

The first time a referee issues a purple card, the offending spectator is recognized as a fan of a certain team and given a warning. If the referee issues the second purple card to the fans of the same team, the team is penalized. They lose a serve and a point. The third time the purple card is issued means expulsion from the match.

What does green card mean in volleyball?

Issuing a green card is a very new phenomenon, and it’s not recognized by the Federation Internationale de Volleyball. However, since 2023, a green card has been used in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL). Some high schools adopted a green card, too.

The green card is about honesty and saving time during the game.

If a team member has committed a minor misconduct, for example, touched the net or accidentally pushed the team member of the opposing team, but the referee hasn’t noticed, the player admits their fault. In such a case, the referee will show a green card. So the green card symbolizes the honesty of the player and their commitment to fair game.

What is a red card in sports?

A red card in sports, including volleyball, is a penalty card used by referees to signal a severe violation of the rules or unsportsmanlike behavior. It often results in the immediate expulsion of the player at fault or team official from the game or match.

The consequences can vary between sports, but a red card generally indicates a significant breach of fair play and can lead to additional penalties or sanctions. Sometimes even adding a point to the rival team or taking it from the offending team’s score.

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Now you see that yellow cards and red cards are extremely relevant to every volleyball match. They are disciplinary tools that guarantee the integrity of the game. Volleyball, like other sports, with its exciting rallies and dynamic plays, is based on the principles of fair game.

The use of yellow cards and red cards by referees underscores the importance of maintaining these principles. 

Players, coaches, and team officials alike have the responsibility to the game. In the middle of spikes, serves, and strategic maneuvers, it’s crucial to remember that volleyball is teamwork, camaraderie, and mutual respect.

Avoiding penalty cards is a wise tactical move and respect for the game. Know the rules, stay composed, respect referee decisions, communicate with your team, and embrace fair game. This way, you will enjoy the game so much more. 

You may be a young athlete who wants to get additional knowledge about the game you love or a passionate volleyball fan watching every important match and rooting for your team, I hope my article was useful and I managed to project my idea of how critical red and yellow card is.

Every match is unique and exciting, so let’s enjoy every serve, every block, and every point guided by the fair play principle.


What is a red card in volleyball?

A red card in volleyball is a harsh penalty issued by the referee to signify a serious violation of the rules, unsportsmanlike behavior, or risky play. It results in the immediate expulsion of the player at fault, coach, or team official from the remainder of the match.

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