There are a surprising amount of volleyball games you can play without a net.
While it may be hard to think of games to play without a net, as long as you have a ball and your imagination anything is possible. The limitations to this obviously include not being able to play a normal six-on-six rotating rally, but some games are still possible and fun to play with a few small adaptations.
So, what are the best volleyball games without a net? The best games for volleyball without a net are popcorn, monkey barrel, and spike or pass tag. These can be played with as few as two players, but become much more fun the more players you have. Other great games include the shuffle bump relay and four square volley, both of which can be played without a net.
Today, I’m going to be revealing my top ten favorite volleyball games without a net. I’m a big believer in taking sport with you, wherever you go, and these games are no exception.
Volleyball Games Without A Net: Top 10
Here are ten best volleyball games to play without a net:
- King of the Court
- Monkey Barrel
- Around the World
- Hungry Hippos
- Shuffle Bump Relay
- Spike or Pass Tag
- Four Square Volley
King of the Court
First up is a tried-and-true classic: King/Queen of the Court.
If you don’t know how to play this, the rules are simple.
There are two opposing sides: the challenger – which has a line of others behind them, waiting to fill in – and the champion. If the champion wins, they get a point and move on to face the next challengers, but if the challenger wins they switch sides and become the new champion.
For our netless variation, the teams are composed of two players apiece. Instead of playing across a net, they play to bounce the ball off the ground, usually in a marked zone. The same rules as volleyball apply – three touches aside, not allowed to touch the ground between passes – but the players can move anywhere, similar to spikeball.
Play starts when the challenger serves by bouncing the ball to the champions, who then pass it as normal and attempt to outfox the challengers. When the ball bounces twice, the last team to touch it are the winners!
This is a great team game that can be as relaxed or competitive as the players make it. It can be played outside or inside, grass or sand, and is a great way to mix drills up or take a break while traveling.
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This is a game I used to play at the beginning of every season with the national team. A great way to get your players talking, and doubling as a drill in ball control, this is a fun game that can quickly descend into chaos!
This game can be played with as little as two players, but is ideal for large groups of players.
To begin, have the players jog around in an area, weaving in and out of one another. Toss a ball in and have your players set it above their head while moving, and pass it to another. Keep adding balls, still weaving and switching, until every player has one. The catch is – if at any point a player drops their ball, they’re out!
3. Monkey Barrel
Monkey barrel is usually played as a serving game over a net, but it is easily adapted without one.
Determine an area to be your team’s “target area”, and sit one player inside to be the “monkey”. The object is to serve to the monkey and have them catch the ball. When they do, the server joins them in the “barrel” area, and has to connect to them with a limb somehow: foot or hand, both are ok!
The monkeys cannot disconnect for any reason, but have to catch the ball to allow others to join them. To win the game, you must get all your monkeys inside the barrel – you can either compete against yourselves or against another team with their own monkeys and barrel.
Because every player has to connect a limb, you’ll inevitably get situations where one person has no available limbs free, creating a hilarious scenario. Keep it light, keep the servers moving, and enjoy!
4. Around the World
Around the world is another classic game usually played in basketball. Because of this, it’s best played with a basketball net, but you can also use a bucket, open back, or another player to act as the target.
The object of the game is to move around a set boundary, setting or passing the ball into the target. If you miss it, it’s back to the start! Experiment with distance and make it easier or harder for yourself as needed to keep it enjoyable yet challenging.
“Vollis” is a version of volleyball where each team only has one touch on the ball before it must go back over the net, and may let the ball bounce if they wish.
For the netless version, I like to line players up in two opposing, single file lines. They pass to one another within a denoted area (or unmarked – it’s up to you!) and run to the other side.
You can spice this up either by making it competitive (team-based or one-on-ones), allowing more touches, or by adding more balls to the mix, forcing the players to time their shots and move faster.
My team got up to four in play before they broke – how many can you get?
There is no truer drill in volleyball than peppering. It’s so fun and essential to developing volleyball skills though, that it’s practically a game. Combine that with the fact that it requires no net, and it absolutely deserves its place on our list.
Peppering consists of at least two players passing the ball back and forth without letting it touch the ground. Ideally, it will consist of a pass-set-hit repeated, so each player takes their turn switching roles.
Peppering can be done in a triple version or more, either in single file lines or around a central-facing circle, but the pass-set-hit should remain the same.
7. Hungry Hippos
Hungry hippos is a game that works much like the classic board game, where hippos gleefully eat all the balls in their pond. In this version, the players become the hippos.
Place around a dozen objects or balls in the center of an area, with at least two teams at opposite sides. You can have as many teams and players as you wish, but there must be as least two.
Run/Dive/Slide your way into the center on the mark “Go!” and collect one object and return it to where you began. Continue this and race against other teams until all the objects are gone.
The winner is the team with the most objects. Repeat the game until the hippos are full.
8. Shuffle Bump Relay (easy difficulty)
This relay game is awesome because it requires teamwork and is great for kids.
First, you’ll need a large space to run/shuffle through. Split the teams into two groups of at least three players, and line each team up in a row. The second player in line will start with the ball.
When the game starts, he tosses the ball to player one, who passes it to player three. Three will then toss the ball to one, who will pass it to four. When player four tosses the ball, player one will pass it to the new player 2, and take his place at the end of the row.
Repeat, with the team shuffling through the rotation, with the top of the row joining the end. When player 1 returns to the top of the row again, the whole team should sit down – the winners!
9. Spike or Pass Tag
Everyone loves tag, and this game is fun because instead of trying to get everyone out, you’re trying to keep them in. This game is best played with kids, or those learning how to play.
To start, have the group run around randomly. When you’re ready, call out either “Spike” or “Pass”, and everyone should freeze. One of two things then happen:
On a “Spike” call, toss one player a set and have them spike the ball downward. Play is then resumed, and the players can continue running.
On a “Pass” call, also call out a number. Toss the ball to a player, and they must pass to that many teammates before giving the ball back to the coach. Once the ball is returned, players may resume moving.
If a player does a move wrong, they are eliminated. Once everyone has had a chance to touch the ball, the team wins.
10. Four Square Volley
Last but not least, we have four square volley. This game requires a four square court, or chalk/another material to create one.
Have a player start in each square of the court, with a line of extra players behind square one. Toss the ball to player one, who then must call the name of another player in the four square court and pass to them, who then continues the play. If either player misses, they are sent to the back of the line, and the remaining players fill in the empty positions. Play continues as long as you want it to.
Other Volleyball Drills & Games
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Play Volleyball Without A Net?
Yes! You don’t need a net – all you need is a ball and a friend. The more people you can gather to play, the better – and these games don’t have size limits like official volleyball matches do! Even just tossing a volleyball back and forth, or passing to one another while chatting can be relaxing and a lot of fun.
How Can I Practice Volleyball By Myself?
You can easily practice volleyball by yourself with a volleyball (a soccer ball or basketball work well too!) and some space. I like to practice against a wall – either indoor or outdoor – because it gives me a nice flat surface to practice passing, serving, and spiking against, but use what works for you!
Other No Net Resources
About The Author
Ailan Samuel is a writer and athlete who has played volleyball at the university, club, and national level since 2012. He has competed successfully in both beach and indoor competitions, resulting in four silver and two gold medals, and was awarded the Half-Blue while playing in Scotland. He received his MA in English and Medieval History from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and is currently studying for his MA in Publishing and Creative Writing at Bournemouth University.