Step 2 guidance: rule changes, U18s indoor volleyball return

8th April 2021

Step 2 guidance: rule changes, U18s indoor volleyball return

We are pleased to confirm the return of organised indoor volleyball activity for juniors from Monday, 12th April.

The change comes as England prepares to move to Step 2 of the lockdown roadmap, which allows more volleyball activity to resume.

Currently only volleyball that takes place outside is allowed, though exemptions do apply in education settings, for elite training and disabled athletes. Visit for guidance on volleyball activity in an outdoor setting.

Organised volleyball or sitting volleyball activity for juniors in an indoor setting must follow the updated sport-specific safety plans for the relevant discipline. These documents detail important measures, such as conducting risk assessments and regular sanitising of hands and wiping of volleyballs, to keep participants safe.

Use the links below to read the sport-specific safety plans in full:

It is vital for social distancing to be maintained between people who do not live together when not actively participating and, at this point, no spectators are allowed indoors. This does not apply to carers for disabled people, or adults needed to supervise U18s in a safeguarding role.

You do not need to wear a face covering while playing indoor volleyball, but you should wear a face covering at all other times while inside a sports facility. This guidance differs for sitting volleyball, as explained below.

Although, generally, travel should still be minimised, travel for sport and exercise is permitted.

‘Volleybubbles’ and limits on participation

If the activity is classed as organised, there can be a maximum of 15 players under the age of 18 per indoor field of play, as per Government guidance. These ‘volleybubbles’ must not mix. This includes young people who were U18 on 31st August 2020, even if they turn 18 during the academic year.

Playing courts must be at least 2m apart. Organisers must conduct their own risk assessment, considering local factors such as ventilation and hall size, to decide on how many groups of 15 junior players they can have in their indoor space.

Only activity that follows the sport-specific safety plans and which is arranged by either Volleyball England OR a constituted volleyball club that is affiliated to Volleyball England OR a registered level two volleyball coach OR a company or charity which completes our event registration process is classed as ‘organised’.

Volleyball England recommends that only coaches who have at least a level two qualification should lead sessions for juniors.


  • Organised outdoor sport for educational purposes can happen in groups of any number.
  • Disabled athletes can take part in organised indoor volleyball and sitting volleyball without being subject to social gathering limits. Where organised volleyball in an indoor setting is being organised for disabled athletes, the sport’s specific safety plan must be followed. Crucially, this exemption only applies to disabled people (as determined by the individual in line with the Equality Act 2010) and any other people necessary to enable the sport to take place (carer, coach, etc), no non-disabled person can play.
  • Elite athletes (as defined here).

Change to outdoor volleyball guidance

Previously, the guidance in Step 1B did not allow spectators at any volleyball, beach volleyball or sitting volleyball activity that took place in an outdoors setting. That has now changed in Step 2.

Spectators are allowed on public land, where they must adhere to social gathering limits either in groups of six or two households.

As a result of this change, activity organisers must now create a 3m boundary (this does not need to be physically marked out) stretching around the field of play and prevent any spectators from entering the ‘Red Zone’ area within it. This does not apply to carers for disabled people, or adults needed to supervise U18s in a safeguarding role.

For further guidance on organising volleyball, beach volleyball or sitting volleyball in an outdoor setting, please visit

Change to sitting volleyball guidance

Earlier this year we were delighted to announce that sitting volleyball would be able to return as soon as the Government allowed indoor sport to restart. Sitting volleyball presented a unique set of challenges that required innovative thinking to overcome and reduce the risk involved in playing.

The wearing of face masks was one of the measures that brought the risk down to a level to allow the sport to return. Guidance has since been updated to require players to either wear a face mask OR return a negative Covid-19 test (lateral flow test) 72 hours (ideally 24 hours) before the activity. This is in addition to a self-check for Covid-19 symptoms.

Volleyball England will shortly be releasing details of a specific webinar on the return of sitting volleyball to help clubs and coaches return to play.


Indoor facilities are now able to re-open so long as it is for one of the permitted reasons (see Sport England’s guidance for more information). They must ensure they open in line with the Government’s Sport Facility guidance, for example, the maximum occupancy of an indoor facility must allow a minimum of 100 square feet (9.3 square metres) per person. We must stress that adult indoor volleyball cannot yet return.

Club support

If your club has affiliated to Volleyball England, do not forget to make the most of your membership benefits. This includes support to write funding applications, free DBS checks and access to VOLLEYFIT, our volleyball fitness plan which now includes workouts tailored to sitting volleyball players.  Affiliated clubs also receive £5 million public liability insurance covering club activities.

Furthermore, in January, Sport England extended its Return to Play: Small Grant programme, giving all volleyball clubs up until 30th June 2021 to apply for funding. Read more here.

We have also organised a webinar to help explain the Step 2 guidance. Click here for more details.


Indoor and sitting volleyball activity for adults will return no earlier than 17th May. We are awaiting further guidance from Sport England and DCMS to allow us to fully understand the guidance around the return of volleyball in Step 3 and beyond. This is not expected until nearer the time.

For more information, please read our updated FAQs or visit

Please note this guidance is valid until Step 3 comes into force. This change will happen no earlier than Monday, 17th May.

Step 2 guidance: rule changes, U18s indoor volleyball return