Looking for a sport that will give you a cardio workout, challenge your strategic thinking, and enable you to be on a team, all while just having fun? Then sitting volleyball, a discipline of volleyball, may be perfect for you.
Like many adaptive sports, sitting volleyball can be played with able-bodied friends and relatives who follow the sitting volleyball rules.Sit volleyball
The object of the game is the same as standing volleyball – hit the ball over the net and land it in the opposing team’s half of the court. Teams have up to three contacts with the ball before it must go over the net.
Where Can I Play?
Anywhere! All you need is a suitable low net or a rope over two chairs, (don’t worry about it being regulation when you are just learning to play).
You can easily alter the size of the court and number of players on each team at a recreational level to allow as many people to enjoy the game as possible.
What Is Different Besides Sitting?
- Body Position: The position of each player is determined and controlled by the position of their bottoms. This means that the hand(s) and/or leg(s) may cross the service, attack, and center lines, provided they do not interfere with an opposing player.
- A player’s ‘bottom’ is defined as the upper part of the body, from the shoulder to one’s buttocks. Players are not allowed to lift his/her bottom from the court when executing any type of attack-hit. Additionally, it is forbidden to stand up, raise the body or take steps to play a ball.
- A back-row player may perform any type of attack-hit from any height, if at the time of the hit the bottom does not touch or cross over to the attack line.The player must have contact with the court with some part of the upper part of the body at all times when playing the ball, except when making a low defensive play. In such defensive play, a brief loss of contact with the court is permitted.
- The referee’s official hand signal of ‘lifting from the court’ is raising the upper hand and forearm positioned parallel to the floor and mirror imaging the lower hand and forearm.
- Serve: Unlike standing volleyball, it is permitted to block or attack an opponent’s serve.
- Net: The net is reduced in size to be 80cm in height. In regulation play for men, the net is raised to 1.15m (approximately 3 ft., 9.28 in.) and for women, 1.05m (approximately 3 ft., 5.34 in.).
- Court size: 10 x 6 meters (approximately 32 ft., 9.7 in. x 19 ft., 8.22 in.) with a two-meter attack line (approximately 6 ft., 6.73 in.).
The Basics of Play
As with any sport, practice will help you play the game better.
- The ready position: (The flexed, yet comfortable posture a player assumes before moving to contact the ball.) Legs in front, slightly bent. Arms should be down with hands on the floor ready to push in all directions. Be alert and ready to move in any direction due to the quick pace of the game.
- Serving: (Putting the ball into play.) When serving, pull back the hitting arm. In the non-serving hand, raise the ball to shoulder height with the arm in front of the body and toss the ball gently, one to two feet above the head. Swing through the ball to the intended target.
- Spiking/attacking: (Smashing the ball into the opponents’ court using an overhead motion.) When spiking or attacking the ball, start with your body four to five feet away from the net. Move toward the ball by using arms and pushing or pulling with the lower body. Pull back the hitting arm, swing forward quickly, and reach as high as you can, rotating your shoulders.
- Overhead passing/setting: (Directing the ball to a point where a player can spike it into the opponents’ court.) Open your hands and spread fingers into a ball-shaped cup above the forehead, allow the wrists and hands to be loose, make a triangle with the thumbs and pointer fingers, flick the wrists, and extend the arms to push the ball to the target.
- Forearm passing/digging: (A defensive shot passing an attacked ball close to the floor.) Place your thumbs together and even in height. Point thumbs downwards and keep elbows locked out to create a platform with your forearms. Position the platform to create an angle that allows the ball to rebound toward the target.
Blocking: (Defensive play by one or more players to deflect a spiked ball back to the hitter’s court.) Start with hands down, ready to move side-to-side as quickly as possible. Once into position, raise your arms with hands open wide and fingers spread apart to cover the most surface area. Extend your arms across the net without touching it and flick your wrists toward the middle of the court.
Matches are played over a best of five sets format with each set won by the first team to reach 25 points with a two-point lead in the first four sets, and by the first team to reach 15 points with a two-point lead in a decisive fifth set. A match is won by the team that wins three sets.
Each team is allowed up to three hits to return the ball. A team scores a point by successfully grounding the ball on the opponents’ playing court; when the opponent team commits a fault; or when the opponent team receives a penalty. (A team commits a fault by making a play contrary to the rules.) At the moment of contacting the ball, a player’s bottom must be in contact with the floor. If not in contact when the ball is touched (except on a low-defensive play), the team will lose the rally.
The Paralympic Club Directory also has a list of clubs that offer sitting volleyball. Several other organizations throughout the country offer sitting volleyball as well, and be sure to check out your local Parks and Recreation Department to see what information they can offer you.
Sitting volleyball first began in the Netherlands in the 1950s as a combination of volleyball and a German game called sitzbal, which was played without nets. It significantly increased in popularity during the 1960s and today is played in more than 50 countries.
Sitting volleyball made its debut as a Paralympic sport at the Arnhem, Netherlands, 1980 Games. The Athens Games in 2004 introduced the first Paralympic competition for women’s sitting volleyball; the U.S. came away with the bronze medal.
At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, there were 198 athletes competing in the sport. The U.S. Women’s Team repeated in capturing the silver medal just as they had done at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
Sitting volleyball is governed by World ParaVolley, which produces all of the rules and regulations for the sport.
Download the current World ParaVolley Sitting Volleyball Rulebook.
Who Qualifies for Paralympic Volleyball?
Paralympic sitting volleyball can be played by amputees and people with other types of locomotor disabilities with permanent injuries to the knees, hips, ankles, elbows, wrists and les autres (cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and polio or any major muscle loss that prevents the player from playing stand-up volleyball).
Two players on each team may have a minimal impairment, which means their impairment may appear minimal but it prevents them from competing in the nondisabled version of the sport. These injuries include anterior cruciate ligament damage and missing fingers.
It is not recommended you wear your prosthetic leg when playing sitting volleyball as it could limit one’s speed and movement abilities during play. Additionally, if an athlete or teammate falls on it, it could cause injury to them or damage the prosthesis.
Users of a prosthetic arm can use it to pass, serve, and block.
The Striker is a chair to provide support to those with spinal cord injuries. Triangle Volleyball Club, along with DSUSA Chapter Bridge II Sports, submitted a project proposal to Duke University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering to design, produce, and put into service a chair to assist with support and movement on the floor for those with spinal cord injury. The Striker was unveiled in December 2012; a patent application and mass production work are currently underway.
There are numerous companies that provide equipment for sitting volleyball.
International Governing Body- World ParaVolley
Coaching Resources- American Volleyball Coaches Association
Paralympic Sitting Volleyball- Team USA
US Paralympic Volleyball Team- U.S.A. Sitting Volleyball
General Information- National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability
Integrating Sitting Volleyball into Schools- Athletics for All
Also, check out the sitting volleyball article in the Winter 2019 issue of Challenge magazine.