Sitting volleyball was first introduced as a demonstration in the 1976 Toronto Paralympics Games having originated in The Netherlands in 1956. Four years later, The Netherlands introduced it as a competitive sport and it has since gained popularity in over 60 countries worldwide including Australia.
As a version of the original 'standing’ volleyball, sitting volleyball is an energetic sport for people with or without physical disabilities. It is classified into two degrees of disabilities, disabled and minimum disability. The court is much smaller than the standing volleyball court measuring 6m x 10m with lowered nets – 1.15m for men and 1.05m for women.
There are only two rules in this quick game according to the FIVB rules;
- Players are not allowed to lift off the ground while playing
- Players can serve and block the ball
Characteristics of Sitting Volleyball
Sitting volleyball includes two 6-players teams featuring fixed motion, more communication and ferocious explosiveness in the court. The two teams are separated by the low-height net and try to land the ball on the opponent’s court to score points.
Players involve in a highly spirited game aiming to score 25 points and need a lead of at least 2 points to win the set. A team needs to win three sets to win the game.
At the Paralympic Games, there are both men and women volleyball games with a total of 8 teams competing. The World ParaVolley is responsible for the governing of sitting volleyball around the world. They have a set of official sitting volleyball rules and have a selection of instructional diagrams that were introduced in October 2013.
Classification of physical impairment prior to participation
According to World ParaVolley, all athletes are allowed to play sitting volleyball regardless of their physical impairment. Athletes compete against others on an equal court at the national levels. At the official levels, world championships, and Paralympic Games, every athlete must have a physical impairment which is further classified.
In order to participate at the Paralympic Games, athletes have to undertake an assessment to classify them into groups. For sitting volleyball, these groups are categorized into sport classes which are Minimally Disabled (MD) and Disabled (D). An athlete is classified as MD is someone who has an impairment in their legs that prevents them from playing standing volleyball. An athlete who would be classified as D would have a greater impairment that has an impact on their field of play.
The sitting volleyball governing body allows a minimum of two players with minimal disabilities, for example missing fingers, to play on each team. In most cases, before joining a club and competing at a local or international level, there is a classification information form to guide on the individual classification to determine an individual’s eligibility to play.
Where can you play Sitting Volleyball in Australia?
Volleyball SA is a non-profit organization in South Australia that is all about Volleyball, from training, social games and competition level volleyball. They also run Sitting Volleyball games and incorporate this in a physical education program for people with or without disabilities. Volleyball SA runs in various venues which means that there should be a program near you!
Australian Paralympic Committee offers opportunities for interested parties to join the sitting volleyball. The committee provides a classification form for the interested parties for the upcoming games and events. Australian Paralympic Committee commits to the World Organization for Volleyball for the Disabled (WOVD), Australian Volleyball Federation and International volleyball committee to provide assistance to those who want to participate.
Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association in conjunction with Volleyball Queensland offer membership and opportunities in local volleyball clubs. The two organizations take sitting volleyball to new heights, with individuals being able to play for fun as well as at a competitive level. Furthermore, coaching opportunities are available in their training camps which are offered two or three times a year through local clubs.