There are two forms of volleyball for disabled athletes: standing and sitting. Today, sitting volleyball is the only form of Volleyball included in the Paralympic Games. A decision was made by the IPC to remove standing Paralympic volleyball prior to the 200 Sydney Games, stating that it did not meet the criteria set for the Paralympic programme.
Sitting volleyball is played from a sitting position on the floor. The sport is governed by the same set of rules as the able-bodied game, with a few minor rule modifications. Players are allowed to block serves, but one “cheek” must be in contact with the floor whenever they make contact with the ball.
The objective is for teams to send the ball over the net through the crossing area and to ground it on the court of the opposing team. Each team is allowed to have up to three contacts with the ball before returning it to the opposing team’s side of the court.
Each game consists of a maximum of five sets. Each of the first four sets is completed once one team has earned 25 points and has a minimum lead of at least two points. In the case of a tie at 24-24, the set continues until one of the teams secures a lead of two points and declared the winner of the set. In the case of a 2-2 set draw, a fifth set is played. In the fifth set, a team only needs to win 15 points, again with a difference of at least two points over the opposing team. The winning team must win a total of three sets.
Each team has a maximum of 12 players. The initial positions of the players in the playing area are specific. These are determined and controlled during the game by the position of the buttock in relation to the ground.
In sitting volleyball, the net is about 3 feet high, and the court is 10 x 6 meters with a 2-meter attack line. The court is divided into two sides of 5m deep by 6m wide. The net height, lower than that of able-bodied or standing volleyball, is set at a height of 1.15m for men, and 1.05m for women.
Players must remain in contact with the court at all times when handling the ball. Standing, rising, or taking steps is not permitted. A short loss of contact with the court is permitted in two scenarios: when making a defensive play in the back zone to save a ball and when making a defensive play in the front zone.
Volleyball is open to any athlete with a physical disability who meets the minimum disability requirements for volleyball. An athlete's disability must be permanent (either progressive or non-progressive) and can include the following: amputee, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy and les autres. Athletes with progressive physical disabilities (i.e., muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, etc.) are given a temporary classification and must be classified at each competition.
Each athlete must be classified to determine eligibility. During the classification process, each athlete is examined by a classification team who tests the athlete's ability to perform certain movements. Each movement has a point value and the inability of an athlete to perform these movements due to their disability results in a loss of points.
At the conclusion of the classification process, the points for each movement are totalled and the athlete is assigned a classification rate (D -Disability or MD- Minimal Disability) based on their total number of points. The assigned classification rate reflects the degree of disability (minor versus severe). If an athlete's total score after all movements have been tested is too high, they have not met the minimum disability requirement for volleyball and are not eligible to play.
In some cases, the disability of an athlete playing volleyball (i.e., missing fingers) would not be severe enough to qualify them to play other sports on the Paralympic program (i.e., amputee track) but is severe enough to allow them to play volleyball. If an athlete receives a "permanent" classification, their classification rate is valid for a period of four years, at which time they must be reclassified in order to continue to be eligible to play. Athletes with progressive physical disabilities (e.g., muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis) are given a temporary classification and must be classified at each competition. Athletes without a valid classification card are not eligible to play. Classification must take place at an internationally sanctioned event such as the world championships or Paralympic Games.
Volleyball originated in the United States in the 1890s. A YMCA physical education director created a new game called Mintonette as a pastime to be played preferably indoors and by any number of players. The game took some of its characteristics from tennis and handball and was designed to be an indoor sport less rough than basketball for older members of the YMCA, while still requiring a bit of athletic effort.
After an observer noticed the volleying nature of the game at its first exhibition match in 1896 at the International YMCA Training School, the game quickly became known as Volleyball. Volleyball rules were slightly modified by the International YMCA Training School and the game spread around the country to various YMCAs.
Canada was the first country outside of the United States to adopt volleyball. The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), was founded in 1947, and the first World Championships were held in 1949 for men and in 1952 for women. Volleyball is now extremely popular in Brazil, Europe, Russia, and China, as well as North America.
Volleyball for disabled athletes entered the Paralympic Games as a demonstration sport for amputees in 1976 in Toronto, Canada. It became part of the Paralympic programme at the 1980 Games.