What is it?
Sitting volleyball began in Holland in the 1950s, and is a combination of volleyball and a German game called ‘Sitzball’. It is similar to Olympic volleyball, with the same rules and scoring system.
Who can participate in sitting volleyball at the Paralympics?
Sitting volleyball is open to athletes with a physical disability.
In sitting volleyball there is no specific classification system. Players must have at least a minimal level of disability to participate. All athletes who meet the International Paralympic classification guidelines can compete.
How is it played?
- Sitting volleyball is played by two teams of six players.
- The court measures 10 metres by 6 metres and is divided by a net.
- The object of the game is to make the ball hit the floor on the other side of the court. This wins one point.
- Usually 25 points are needed to win a set.
- To start a point, one player hits or ‘serves’ the ball and the other team tries to hit the ball back. Players have to rotate before their team serves.
- When players hit the ball to each other, this is a ‘rally’. The rally continues until the ball hits the floor, goes out of the court or a team fails to return the ball or commits a fault.
- Players can hit the ball (but not catch or throw it) 3 times before it must cross over the net. They are also allowed to ‘block’ the ball in addition to the maximum number of touches.
- A part of the player’s body between the buttocks and the shoulders must be touching the court when playing or attempting to play the ball.
- The first team to win 3 sets is the winner.
Iran is to Sitting volleyball what Brazil is to football
What would you say if asked to name a country that has dominated a sport at the Paralympic games? China in table tennis? Japan in judo? How about Iran in men’s sitting volleyball?
This would be a good answer because Iran is considered the superpower of the sport. They are the current Paralympic and World champions. They have won the event at five of the last six Paralympic Games (and came second the other time) and, along with Bosnia-Herzegovina, who they have met in the past three finals, are the great favourites for London 2012. All this has prompted The Daily Telegraph to write “Iran hold a similar status in sitting volleyball to that which Brazil enjoys at football”.
So what are the reasons for this success? According to Amauri Ribeiro, coach of the Brazilian team “Iran … is one step ahead because (the sport) is very popular, and is played all around the country. The Bosnian team (even spends) time in Iran training and sharing knowledge.”
The Iranian volleyball federation lists a number of ‘notable international activities’: sending coaches and referees on international courses, inviting teams from other countries to train and play in Iran, and the national team participating in formal international tournaments and championships.”
And according to Dr. Saiedlou, an important Iranian sports official, “Iran became the champion through the endeavors of athletes, sophisticated coaches and wise planning.”
Whatever the reason, don’t be surprised to see the Iranian team going for the gold medal at London 2012.