For those who don’t know what is sitting volleyball, it is a Paralympic volleyball game, which is generally played by disabled athletes who enter the Paralympic Games. Sitting volleyball was developed in the Netherlands in 1956 and was featured initially as a demonstration sport at the 1976 Toronto Paralympics Games. Four years later, it became a competitive sport and has earned over 60 nations across the world, even Australia. 

What exactly happens in a sitting volleyball?

Sitting volleyball can be considered as a modified form of the traditional ‘standing’ volleyball. The game is categorized into two levels of impairment; handicapped and minimally disabled. Slightly smaller than the traditional volleyball court, the sitting volleyball court measures 6m x 10m, and the nets are 1.15m for men and 1.05 m for women. 

Features of sitting volleyball

Two six-player teams compete in the sitting volleyball which is divided by the low-height net whose measurements were mentioned previously. These two teams attempt to score points by getting the ball land in the opposing team’s court. For a team to score, it needs to have three ball touches before delivering the ball. The goal of every team is to score 25 points and a 2-point lead. In order to win the game, a team has to qualify for three sets. 

In the Paralympic Games, there are a total of eight teams competing. The World ParaVolley is in charge of the sitting volleyball Paralympics. It has formulated a set of consistent sitting volleyball rules and teaching graphics which were launched in October 2013. 

Who can play?

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Athletes are generally asked to compete with each other on a level basis at the national level. They are asked to undergo an evaluation for the classification into various groups for competing in the Paralympic Games. These two groups in which the individuals will be divided are: Minimally disabled (MD) and Disabled (D). 

Minimally disabled indicates a volleyball player with a handicapped leg that prevents him from playing traditional volleyball. These athletes have lost only a fraction of their muscular strength and flexibility in a joint, which prevents them from standing in the traditional volleyball court where one has to stand. 

On the other hand, athletes that fall under the category of Disabled, have more serious disabilities that prevent them from playing any sports traditionally. These athletes have lost all their muscular strength and flexibility in that joint. 

According to the sitting volleyball regulatory board, each team should have at least two players with minor disabilities such as missing fingers.

Rules of sitting volleyball

As mentioned previously, in sitting volleyball, a 23 foot long, 2.6-foot wide net is set at 1.15 meters (3.8 feet) high for men and 1.05 meters (3.4 feet) high for women. The measurements of the court are 10 by 6 meters (33 by 20 feet) with a 2 meter (6.6 foot) attack line. The rules of sitting volleyball are almost similar to that of the original standing volleyball. The only exception is that in sitting volleyball, the players should have at least one buttock in contact with the floor when they are trying to make contact with the ball and they’re trying to block the serve. 

In sitting volleyball, athletes who are suffering from the following disabilities are only eligible to compete. They are:

If the athletes are suffering from amputations, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and brain injuries, they would be classified either under Minimally Disabled or Disabled as mentioned earlier. 

Common terms used in sitting volleyball

  • Ace: It is a service that happens to land in the court of opponents without being touched
  • Back-row player: Any volleyball player positioned at the back of the court
  • Chuck: Push or throw the ball
  • Facial: A slang doe a spike that hits the opponent in their face
  • Front-row player: Any player positioned near the net
  • Heater: A slang term for spiked ball
  • Joust: This generally happens above the net between two or more players who are forcing the ball to become stationary. 
  • Libero: A substitute defense player for digging
  • Mintonette: Another name for volleyball
  • Rotate: Refers to move to the next position in a clockwise manner
  • Screen: To hamper the opponent’s view
  • Setter: Refers to a player who excels in setting up teammates for attack
  • Sideline: Aside boundary line
  • Spike: Also called kill. Indicates smashing the ball overarm into the opponent’s court
  • Space: A slang term for an ace

8 Takeaways from this article on sitting volleyball

  • Originated in the Netherlands in 1956, the sport sitting volleyball was featured initially as a demonstration sport in Toronto Paralympics Games. 
  • Sitting volleyball rules follow the FIVB’s abled-bodied version, that is, it should be played on a smaller court which measures to be 10m x 6m and with a  lower net (1.15m for men and 1.05 m for women).
  • Played in a best-of-five format, the team needs to win at least three sets and has to reach 25 points, with a minimum two-point lead.
  • Each team is also allowed three touches of the ball before it enters the opponents’ court. 
  • In sitting volleyball, the players are supposed to sit and their torso should be in contact with the floor. If not the whole, then at least one buttock should be in contact with the floor. 
  • There are six players on each team, where at least two players will be suffering from minimal disabilities so that it’s a fair game. 

These are some of the key takeaways of sitting volleyball that is also known as Paralympic Volleyball. Did you know that there are two medal events at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which consists of eight men’s and eight women’s teams who aim for the podium? The women’s tournament consists of Brazil, Italy, Japan, Canada, RPC, China, USA, and Rwanda, whereas the men’s tournament consists of Iran, RPC, Brazil, China, Herzegovina, Bosnia, Egypt, Germany, and Japan. 

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