Competition Levels

Like many other sports, volleyball employs a rating system to maintain even competition. It consists of Recreational, B, BB, A, AA, and Open, in that order. Different parts of the country may view these levels differently, so each description should be taken with a grain of salt.

Another thing to note is that though a player may play at one level indoors, they may have to drop down if playing outside.

Recreational (C)

Rec players are just here to have fun. They may have a basic understanding of the game and rules. Underhand serves are prevalent and getting the ball over the net using three contacts is an accomplishment.

Many touches, such as carries, lifts, and double contacts, would be whistled dead by referees if attempted at a higher level, but are usually waived off here. Rules are relaxed.

B (Intermediate)

B players understand the rules and are playing to win, but are still very much in the learning stage. Hand sets will be questionable and blocking is seldom useful. A 4-2 strategic offense is employed and three contacts are encouraged.

Passes are inconsistent and hits with downward trajectory will produce some cheers. Many players serve overhand at this point, but mistakes are abundant.

BB (Upper Intermediate)

A BB player knows the 6-2 and 5-1 rotations and where to be on defense. Everyone is serving overhand and the rules generally tighten. Footwork and fundamentals are now solid or near solid.

Hitting is now strong enough to require at least a single block and some players may hit down the line. Basic “high ball” plays are run with consistency and players make athletic moves on a regular basis.

A (Competitive)

A-level players can read plays and react in forming a cohesive umbrella defense. Hitters are changing up their swings to strategically include tips, tools, and roll shots, while a double block is a necessity. A weak link will be quickly found and exploited.

Some players are jump serving and others specialize in passing. Setters are running plays of differing pace which are executed consistently, presuming the pass is good. This level includes athletes who picked up the sport late, but have been playing for some time.


AA players have been playing the sport for a long time and can compete athletically with the best. Creative plays are run smoothly and dynamically, even with imperfect passes.

Serving is aggressive and easy serves result in effortless kills by the receiving team. The game is played at a very quick tempo and errors are rare. Everyone is fundamentally sound.


This is the top level of play. High flyers and giants roam the court. Hitters are aiming for the corners, because everything else will result in stuff blocks.

Most tournaments have cash prizes and will attract top talent who play for money. Players who play at this level are experts who live and breathe the sport.

Other Competition Levels

Juniors – For athletes under 18 years old.

College – For current college students. Some events allow incoming and recently graduated students as well.

AAA – Used in the CBVA. Denotes open level tournaments without cash prizes. This brings down the entry fees.

Masters – For “more experienced” athletes. Age restrictions vary (eg. 35 & up / 45 & up / 55 & up).