Sitting Volleyball

Learn about this Summer Paralympic sport

April 27, 2012

United States' Kendra Lancaster defends a ball during the women's sitting volleyball gold medal match against China at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

Sitting volleyball got its start in the Netherlands in the 1950s. The sport combines elements of traditional volleyball and a German game called Sitzbal. It made its debut as a Paralympic sport at the 1980 Arnhem Games, in the Netherlands. The women’s event entered the Paralympic Games in 2004, in Athens, Greece.

Rules of the Games

Ten teams compete in the men’s competition and eight teams in the women’s. Each squad is made up of six players and five substitutes. A maximum of one minimally disabled player may play for each team at any one time. The teams are divided into two pools. Each team plays every other team in the group. The top eight teams in the men’s competition and the top four teams in the women’s competition advance to the knockout round. The winning squads from the semifinals go to net for the gold.

Sitting volleyball is very similar to traditional volleyball. But there is one main difference: in sitting volleyball, a part of an athlete’s body between the bottom and the shoulder must be touching the court when making or attempting a shot. Teams are allowed three touches of the ball before it must cross over the net into the opposing team’s half of the court. Each match is made up of five sets. The first four sets are played to 25 points. The fifth set is played to 15 points. All sets must be won with at least a two-point advantage.


Click here to read about wheelchair basketball at the Paralympic Games.

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