Sitting Volleyball was created in 1956 in the Netherlands, by combining Athletics and Sitzball, a German sport that does not use a net, which people play while seated.
The first international competitions were held in 1967, but it was only in 1978 that the World Organisation Volleyball for Disabled (WOVD) obtained recognition for the sport from the International Sports Organisation for the Disabled (ISOD), accepting Sitting Volleyball as part of the entity’s programme. Since 1993, World Championships have taken place, with both men’s and women’s events.
The sport joined the Paralympic Games in 1980, held in the Dutch city of Arnhem, although it was only for men. Women’s competitions joined the programme at the 2004 edition in Athens.
Sitting Volleyball is played by athletes with the following disabilities: amputees, especially of the legs; people with other types of locomotor disability (post-polio syndrome, for example), with permanent injuries to the knee, hips, ankle etc; and les autres, with certain amputations, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and polio.
Sitting Volleyball has many similarities with Olympic Volleyball, including the basic rules, the tactical system and scoring, with sets of 25 points and 15 for tie-breaks. The sport is one of the most dynamic in the Paralympic programme.
There are some adaptations to the rules for people with disabilities. For example, the net is 1.15 m high for men and 1.05 m high for women, compared with 2.43 m and 2.24 m for Olympic volleyball. The court, which is divided into attack and defence zones, is also smaller: 10 m x 6 m, compared with 9 m x 18 m in the Olympic sport.
All athletes must play seated, and there are no problems if players’ legs come into contact with those of opposing team members, although this must not hinder their opponents’ play. Contact with the ground must be maintained during all actions, except movements around the court. In Sitting Volleyball, serves may be blocked.