Sitting Volleyball at the Paralympic Games

Sitting volleyball first featured in the Paralympic Games as a demonstration sport, in the 1976 Toronto Games. It was then introduced as a medal sport in Arnhem during 1980. The sport first originated in the Netherlands during the 1950s, it was a combination of volleyball and the German Sitzball sport. Initially, standing volleyball was included in the Paralympic programme. However, it was discontinued in the 2000 games.

Athletes with any physical impairment can compete in sitting volleyball, and there are both men’s and women’s events. The aim of the game is to hit the ball over the net, and land it in the opponent’s court, without them returning it successfully, that is how to score a point. Each team can use up to three passes for an attack, then they must hit the ball over the net. To win a set, a team must score 25 points, but they must win by two clear points. It is a best of 5 format, if the contest goes to game 5, then to win, a team must score 15 points, with a 2 point lead.

In comparison to the court and net used in the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games has scaled down these factors. Using a 10m by 6m court, and a lower net. As you would expect, this results in a faster gameplay for the Paralympic sport. Another difference from the Olympic rules, is that you are able to block an opponent’s serve.

Each team can have 6 players on the court at one time, with 5 athletes in reserve. A defensive specialist can feature in the team as one of the six, who wears a different coloured shirt, to help the team’s performance.

Surprisingly enough, even though the sport is sitting volleyball, not all athletes who compete are unable to stand. You may often see players stand up to celebrate. To be eligible to play, an athlete must not be able to compete in the Olympics due to an impairment, they do not necessarily have to be disabled in their lower body.

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