Sitting volleyball has been around longer than you probably think. It originated in the Netherlands in 1956 as a rehabilitation activity for injured soldiers. After entering as a demonstration sport during the 1976 Paralympic Games in Toronto, Canada, it became a full medal event during the 1980 Paralympic Games in Arnhem, Netherlands.
It is a team sport featuring constant motion, communication and bursts of explosiveness. Two teams of six players are separated by a net and try to score points by grounding the ball onto the other side’s court. Sitting volleyball has many similarities to its stand-up version, but of course, with a number of modifications.
Teams in the stand-up version are separated by a raised net, whilst sitting volleyball is played using a lower net (1.15m for men, 1.05m for women). Court dimensions for sitting volleyball are also smaller (10 metres x 6 metres), which allows the participants to be positioned closer together on the floor.
Ideally, participants need to possess speed, strength and stamina, as well as excellent technical skills and the ability to think quickly and tactically. Participants move around the court by sliding, using strength in their arms to move around, without leaving a sitting position. In teams of six, participants bump, set, spike and slide as they aim to land the ball in their opponent’s half of the court.
Making it even more challenging is the fact participants must have at least one buttock in contact with the floor at all times. A team is allowed three touches of the ball before it must cross over the net (in addition to a legal block). The key attacking move is the set and spike, in which a player feeds the ball (set) for a team-mate to hit into the opposition's court (spike).
There are five sets to a match. A set is won by the first team to reach 25 points (15 points in the 5th set).
On a global scale, sitting volleyball is extremely popular, with over 10,000 athletes involved in over 75 countries.
If you haven’t seen this fast-paced sport in action, take a look at this exciting footage from the 2018 Invictus Games, during a match played between Romania and Germany.