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Volleyball, For Men and Women

Volleyball is one of the truly global world sports, played in sports halls and arenas at the top international level and in the open air, in parks, in open spaces and on beaches throughout the world. Over 800 million players worldwide play volleyball regularly, at least once a week. This makes Volleyball one of the most popular indoor team sports in the world.

Volleyball is a game that can cater for all no matter what age or sex, disabled or able-bodied. It can be played both indoors, in a gym or a sports hall or outside in a park or on the beach. Different versions of the game also exist so the game can be played two, three and four a side, as well as the more usual six a side. It is as easy as 1-2-3!

Volleyball has come a long way from its origins in 1895, when it was invented in Massachusetts, USA by William G. Morgan as a means to keep businessmen fit. Volleyball has grown to become one of the three big international team sports, and the FIVB, with its 218 affiliated national federations, is one of the largest international sporting federations in the world.

The beach volleyball phenomenon is also hugely visible, and still relatively young as an Olympic sport, having been introduced in Atlanta in 1996. Since then it has enjoyed overwhelming spectator and television success at the Sydney and Athens Games, thus opening up Volleyball to a completely new market.

The Game - Volleyball

Volleyball, as an indoor sport, is a sport played by two teams made up of a squad twelve players, of which only six are allowed on court at any one time. The object of the game is to hit the ball down on to the floor of the opponent's court or to put them under pressure and force them to make an error.

Play starts by one player serving the ball over the net from behind the baseline. When the ball has passed over the net, the receiving team may hit the ball three times before it must pass back over the net.

The first touch is normally used to play the ball towards the net, to the 'setter'. The 'setter' then plays the ball along the net for one of the 'attackers' who runs in and jumps up to smash the ball over the net into the opponent's court.

To defend against this, one, two or three of the opposing team's front line players jump together and form a block to intercept the smash, trying to force the ball back into the attacker's court.

If these players fail to stop the smash, the remaining members of the team attempt to control the ball before it hits the floor and build up an attack of their own.

The Court and equipment

The playing area is 18m long by 9m wide, surrounded by a ‘free zone’ of at least 3m. The playing surface should be flat, horizontal and uniform. Indoors it is played on a sprung wood floor or suitable synthetic surface. The net height is set at 2.43m for men and 2.24m high for women. It is essential that the net is taut, so that the ball will rebound from it. Two flexible antennae are fastened to the net above the sidelines. The ball has to cross the net between the antennae. Nowadays the ball is multicoloured and made from synthetic leather materials. It should be spherical and not weigh more than 280g.

The Game – Beach Volleyball

International Beach Volleyball is played on a sand court measuring 16m long by 8m wide between two teams each of two persons. The objective of the game is similar to Volleyball played indoors or in parks, with broadly similar rules, and with techniques of serving, passing, hitting and blocking that have been learnt in the indoor game. Naturally the playing surface is different – and landings softer!

The Game – Learning Volleyball

Volleyball is usually introduced in small sided games, playing 2, 3 or four persons-a-side. This is often referred to as Mini-Volleyball. The court is smaller and the net height lower for younger age groups. To assist the teaching of Volleyball the English Volleyball Association has produced information for schools and school teachers.

If you want to find out more about playing volleyball or even becoming a coach or referee, visit the English Volleyball Association website at Volleyball England

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