The purpose of the present study was to investigate the time characteristics four consecutive Olympic Games after the implementation of the new regulations, both in men and women. Data concerns the points and the duration of the set and the match as well and the total match duration, from Olympic volleyball games (Sidney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012). In total 312 matches were analyzed. Results indicated a continuous significant increase in the set and accordingly match duration's, both in men and women. Overall the mean set duration for each of the first four sets increased from around 22 minutes in Sydney to 26 minutes in London and the fifth sets increased from around 15 minutes to 17.5 minutes respectively. This may be is a consequence of the teams’ primary commitment to performance improvement in the defense tactics and the special attention given to the avoidance of faults. In conclusion, the implementation of the new rules since 2000, especially those related with the change to the rally point system, with each set played to 25 points and the introduction of rule for libero player have forced volleyball coaches and players to reevaluate their strategies and tactics in the goal of winning a rally, a set and a game. The collateral prolongation of the rallies and the increased uncertainty of the outcome have undeniably made the game more spectacular and intriguing to watch.
Keywords: Volleyball; Time characteristics; Rules.