Paralympic Sport A-Z: Sitting volleyball


Invented in the 1950s in the Netherlands,
sitting volleyball made its Paralympic debut with the men’s competition in 1980 and the
women’s in 2004. Compared to volleyball, the sitting volleyball
court is smaller and the net lower, but the ball is the same. The attack line – 2m from the net – creates
a Front Zone and a Back Zone. Only the three players in the Front Zone may
attack or block. A defensive specialist called a Libero, who
wears a different colour shirt, plays in the backcourt. Player positions are determined by the location
of their buttocks, which must always be in contact with the court when playing the ball,
except in extreme defensive situations when a brief loss of contact is permitted.
Teams have twelve players, with six on court at any one time. All players have to have an eligible impairment.
Athletes may be amputees, or have loss of muscular strength or flexibility in a joint.
Being unable to stand is not a requirement for playing sitting volleyball. An athlete may be classified as Minimally
Disabled (MD) or Disabled (D). Teams can have up to two MDs on the roster, but only one
on the court at a time. Play begins with a service. Unlike in volleyball,
in sitting volleyball the opponent may block or attack the serve. The main aim is to stop the ball from hitting
the floor on your half of the court, or to force your opponent into making a mistake.
Every rally results in a point. Teams can hit the ball no more than three
times in succession, and no single player can hit the ball twice consecutively, unless
in both cases the first touch is a block. The key moves within a phase of play are:
serve, pass, set, spike, block and dig. Matches are the best of five sets – the
first team to win three sets wins. The first four sets are played to 25 points,
and if necessary, a fifth set is played to 15 points. In all sets teams must win by two clear points. Sitting volleyball is a fast and exciting
spectator sport, demanding excellent reactions, great upper body strength, stamina, balance
and tactical awareness.

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