Difference Between Sitting Volleyball and Volleyball: Key Adaptations for Disabled Volleyball Athletes

Exploring the difference between sitting volleyball and volleyball highlights several key adaptations tailored to provide an engaging sport for athletes with disabilities. Sitting volleyball, recognized globally and featured prominently as a Paralympic sport, adheres to many foundational rules of volleyball but is adapted for play from a seated position. These modifications include changes to the court dimensions and net height to suit the different dynamics of movement inherent in the game.

Difference Between Sitting Volleyball and Volleyball, Players in sitting volleyball sit on the ground, using hands to move and hit the ball. In standing volleyball, players move freely and use hands to hit the ball above the net

The court size in sitting volleyball is smaller, measuring 10 meters by 6 meters, with a lower net — 1.15 meters for men’s competitions and 1.05 meters for women’s — to make the game accessible yet challenging.

Despite these differences, sitting volleyball demands a high degree of athleticism and skill. Teams strategize and compete fiercely to outplay the opposition.

It represents not just a sport in its own right, but also a significant area of growth within the broader context of adaptive sports.

Key Takeaways

  • Sitting volleyball features modified court and net dimensions appropriate for seated play.
  • It’s a Paralympic sport emphasizing skill and strategy, accessible for athletes with disabilities.
  • The game exemplifies adaptive sports’ development, highlighting athleticism in a competitive setting.

Historical Development

volleyball disabled athletes in wheelchairs playing sitting volleyball, Difference Between sitting volleyball and Volleyball
Difference Between sitting volleyball and Volleyball

In tracing the roots of volleyball and its adaptive cousin sitting volleyball, the latter emerges not just as a competitive sport but also as an important rehabilitative activity.

These games exhibit significant developments over time, evolving through adaptation and inclusion, especially within the Paralympic movement.

Origins of Volleyball

Volleyball was invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He sought a game with less physical contact than basketball, suitable for older members of his YMCA.

The original game, called “Mintonette,” was to be a blend of basketball, baseball, tennis, and handball.

Evolution of Sitting Volleyball

Sitting volleyball originated from a German sport called sitzball, which involves no net and is played while seated.

This game’s format was revised in the Netherlands during the 1950s as a rehabilitation sport for injured soldiers.

It adapted the volleyball concept for disabled athletes, leading to the birth of sitting volleyball in 1956.

Sitting Volleyball and the Paralympics

Sitting volleyball swiftly gained popularity and was introduced as a demonstration sport at the 1976 Paralympic Games in Toronto.

By the 1980 Paralympic Games in Arnhem, Netherlands, it was fully incorporated into the competition.

The sport has been a regular feature since, including at the Rio Paralympics.

Governing bodies like World ParaVolley continue to oversee its international competitions and development.

Court Specifications with Difference Between Sitting Volleyball and Volleyball

A net divides the court, with lower height for sitting volleyball. Players use specialized equipment, such as a smaller court and a lower net, to accommodate the seated position

The physical setup for sitting volleyball and volleyball differs notably in court size and net attributes. These distinctions are crucial for accommodating the unique gameplay mechanics of each sport.

Court Dimensions

In sitting volleyball, the court measures 10 meters in length and 6 meters in width, which is smaller than a standard volleyball court to adapt to the gameplay from a seated position.

This court is then divided into two equal sections of 5 meters by 6 meters. For more complete information, visit the guide on About Sitting Volleyball.

The volleyball court dimensions are larger, with a length of 18 meters and a width of 9 meters. Each side of the court is 9 meters square, allowing more space for movement and strategy which is necessary for the standing version of the game.

Net Features

Sitting volleyball utilizes a lower net to account for the seated playing position.

The net height is set at 1.15 meters for men and 1.05 meters for women. A Sitting Volleyball | Rules reference specifies that the net used in this sport is typically 1 meter in width and 10 meters in length.

Conversely, the volleyball net stands taller to match the standing play, with the height typically set at 2.43 meters for men’s competition and 2.24 meters for women’s.

The net spans the width of the court, making it around 9 meters wide. For detailed dimensions, the Dimensions of a Volleyball Court can provide further insight.

Rules and Gameplay: Difference Between Sitting Volleyball and Volleyball

What are some difference between Sitting Volleyball and volleyball? Sitting volleyball and traditional volleyball share a common goal and structure but differ in specific gameplay and rules tailored to the sitting version of the game, demanding unique adaptations and strategies.

Scoring System

Sitting volleyball adopts a fast-paced game format with a best-of-five set format, just like its standing counterpart.

Teams compete to reach 25 points in the first four sets and 15 points in the decisive fifth set if needed, always requiring a two-point margin for victory.

This system rewards consistency and the ability to maintain a strategic edge over opponents throughout the match.

Key Rule Differences

One of the key rule differences between sitting volleyball and traditional volleyball relates to contact with the court.

In sitting volleyball, players must maintain contact with the ground with some part of their torso between the buttocks and shoulders when playing the ball.

Additionally, in sitting volleyball, the net height is lower than in traditional volleyball—1.15 meters for men and 1.05 meters for women. Another notable rule allows for blocking serves, which is not permitted in traditional volleyball.

Positioning and Player Roles

Both variations consist of two teams with six players on the court.

In sitting volleyball, players primarily use their upper bodies and arms to move around the court and hit the ball, adhering to the fast-paced game nature of the sport.

The teams employ a variety of positions including attackers, setters, and defensive specialists, similar to traditional volleyball.

However, sitting volleyball does not use the libero position, a specialized defensive role found in volleyball.

The front zone in sitting volleyball is marked by a 2-meter attack line, and players must consider their positioning carefully, especially since they cannot rise off the ground.

Player and Team Composition

Sitting volleyball: 6 players, 3 in front, 3 in back. Volleyball: 6 players, 3 in front, 3 in back, with a libero, disabled athletes in wheelchairs playing sitting volleyball, Difference Between sitting volleyball and Volleyball

In sitting volleyball, the composition of players on a team is dictated by strict classification systems to ensure fair competition, and the sport also has specific rules for roster size and substitutions compared to standard volleyball.

Classification System

Players in sitting volleyball are classified according to the nature and level of their disabilities.

The classification system is designed to ensure that all athletes with a physical disability, including those with amputations, cerebral palsy, certain brain injuries, or effects from a stroke, compete on equal terms.

Mobility impairment is a critical factor in classification, as it affects players’ performance in this physically demanding sport.

Each team must include a mix of individuals with varying degree of disability, which ensures that the competition is balanced.

Roster Size and Substitutions

Roster size for teams in sitting volleyball can include up to 14 players, as stipulated by the World ParaVolley rules.

During a game, each team starts with six players on the court. Substitutions are allowed, which gives teams a chance to change their lineup dynamically during a match.

Standard VolleyballSitting Volleyball
No strict classification systemPlayers classified by type of disability
Larger rosters usually not neededRosters can include up to 14 players
Dynamic substitutionsSubstitutions impact player classification mix

Techniques and Actions

Players in sitting volleyball use their arms to move and hit the ball, while standing volleyball players use their hands. The sitting players also use their hands to stabilize themselves while playing

The physical techniques and strategic actions employed in volleyball are crucial in both its traditional and adapted forms. They shape the game’s dynamism and require a balance of flexibility, strength, and coordination.

Essential Volleyball Skills

In volleyball, several fundamental skills are paramount for competitive play. These include the serve, initiating the rally; the pass or bump, controlling the ball’s first contact; and the set, precisely positioning the ball for an attack.

The attack often culminates in a spike, where a player hits the ball with force over the net. Blocking is a defensive move to prevent a spike from crossing the net, and digging is the act of stopping the ball from hitting the court after a spike. Both require significant flexibility and muscular strength in the arms and legs.

  • Serve: Can be underhand or overhand; an ace occurs if the ball lands untouched.
  • Pass: Also called a reception, is the first contact after a serve or attack.
  • Set: A technique used to position the ball for an attack.
  • Attack/Hit/Spike: An offensive action to send the ball over the net with power.
  • Block: A defensive action to intercept a spike.
  • Dig: A defensive skill to prevent the ball from hitting the court.

Adaptations for Sitting Volleyball

Sitting volleyball requires similar skills but with modifications due to the game being played on the ground. Players must maintain contact with the floor during play, demonstrating advanced movement through upper body strength and flexibility.

Attacks in sitting volleyball are performed without the jump, emphasizing strategic placement and speed. Serving can take the form of an underhand action or a unique overhand movement while seated.

Blocking also involves significant arm strength, considering the net is lower. In sitting volleyball, the constraints of spinal cord injuries and other mobility impairments necessitate quick reflexes and the effective use of arms for all actions, as movement around the court is governed not by legs, but by hand placement and arm power.

  • Movement: Relies on upper body and arm strength to navigate the court.
  • Flexibility: Required for reaching the ball from a seated position.
  • Muscular Strength: Essential for powerful hits and serves while seated.
  • Joint: Movement and coordination are crucial for maintaining posture and balance.

Physical and Strategic Differences

In both sitting and standing volleyball, teams exhibit strategic planning and physical prowess; however, key differences tailor each sport to its players’ abilities and scenarios. Sitting volleyball is principally designed for athletes with a mobility impairment, requiring them to play while seated on the court. This has profound implications on the physical and strategic elements of the game.


  • Volleyball: Players are upright and utilize their full height for attacking and blocking. Physical height and vertical jump reach are significant advantages.
  • Sitting Volleyball: Athletes have constant contact with the court, and the game is played from a sitting position. This emphasizes upper body strength and flexibility over height and jumping ability.

Court Size and Net Height:

  • Volleyball: Larger court (59 feet by 30 feet) with a higher net.
  • Sitting Volleyball: Smaller court (approximately 32 feet by 19 feet) with a lower net (1.15m for men, 1.05m for women), as noted by the Paralympic organization.

Strategic Variations:

  • Blocking and Attacking: In sitting volleyball, the close proximity of players due to a smaller court size alters the dynamics of blocking and attacking. Players must adapt their strategies to these spatial constraints.
  • Defense: Ground coverage and defensive strategies require quicker reflexes, as players cover less distance than in standing volleyball.
  • Communication: With the rapid-paced nature and smaller court of sitting volleyball, streamlined communication between team members is even more vital to coordinate movements and plays effectively.

International Competitions and Teams

Within the realm of sitting volleyball, international competitions act as a core element where teams from various countries, such as the Netherlands, USA, and Germany, showcase their skills and vie for prestigious titles. These tournaments often hold significant value for the participating nations and are a testament to their dedication and prowess in the sport.

Major Tournaments and Championships

The Paralympic Games stand as the pinnacle of sitting volleyball championships. Every four years, nations gather to compete in this highly anticipated medal event. Teams undergo rigorous classification processes, ensuring a level playing field. The World Championships, another key tournament in the sitting volleyball sphere, sees top-ranked teams like the USA and Germany fight for global supremacy.

Prominent National Teams

In international competition, certain national teams have established themselves as dominant forces. The Netherlands has a storied history in sitting volleyball, frequently reaching the podium in various tournaments. Each team comprises up to 14 players, with classifications tailored to create an inclusive yet competitive environment. The USA’s sitting volleyball team is consistently in contention for top honors, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to excellence at the highest level of the sport.

Cultural and Social Impact

Volleyball, with its origins as a team sport, has transcended to have a profound cultural and social impact. As a paralympic sport, sitting volleyball particularly highlights this impact, promoting the inclusion of athletes with disabilities.

This sport demonstrates that whether standing or seated, volleyball is adaptable—a quality pivotal in uniting people across various demographics. Men and women compete vigorously, illustrating gender equality within the sport’s framework. Sitting volleyball has been instrumental for the disabled, granting them a platform to showcase their athleticism on an international stage such as the Paralympic Games.

Gender EqualityEncourages participation from all genders
DisabilitiesProvides an inclusive arena for competition
Paralympic RecognitionOffers representation at a global level

In many countries, this variant of volleyball serves as a rehabilitation sport, aiding in the recovery and social reintegration of individuals, young and old, with physical impairments. The camaraderie and challenges inherent in this team sport assist in building a sense of community and belonging, often transforming the lives of the involved athletes beyond the court.

Sitting volleyball challenges the conventional narrative of ability, fostering a spirit wherein physical limitations do not define an individual’s capacity to engage in competitive sports. This inclusive approach has cemented volleyball’s role as a catalyst for social change, empowering people with and without disabilities to connect and respect one another through the love of the game.

Promotion and Growth of the Sport

The promotion and growth of sitting volleyball are largely driven by organized initiatives and the support of national governing bodies. International collaborations and domestic efforts have significantly increased the visibility and accessibility of sitting volleyball for athletes with disabilities.

Global Initiatives and Programs

World ParaVolley plays a pivotal role in promoting sitting volleyball globally by organizing international competitions such as the World Championships and overseeing the sport’s inclusion in the Paralympic Games. Their programs are focused on nurturing the sport in new regions, providing technical support and developmental resources that attract new athletes and solidify sitting volleyball’s presence at the global level.

Paralympics involvement has been crucial in the sport’s expansion, showcasing the high level of competition and athletic skill in the games. This exposure not only raises interest among new athletes but also educates the public on the inclusivity and intensity of sitting volleyball.

USA Volleyball Support

In the United States, USA Volleyball is committed to the advancement of all volleyball forms, including sitting volleyball, by fostering a supportive environment for athletes with disabilities. They provide resources for training and competition at various levels, from grassroots to national teams.

The organization’s support extends to hosting national tournaments and bid opportunities for international events, assisting in developing a robust national program that nurtures talent and competes at an international standard. This support by USA Volleyball underscores the country’s commitment to the growth of sitting volleyball, making it a popular and competitive sport in the USA.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section addresses common inquiries regarding the distinctions and equipment unique to sitting volleyball, as well as touching upon its historical development and classification system.

What are the rule differences between sitting volleyball and standard volleyball?

In sitting volleyball, the net is lower, and players must maintain contact with the floor with at least one buttock whenever they play the ball. Unlike in traditional volleyball, players in sitting volleyball are allowed to block serves.

How does the court size for sitting volleyball differ from traditional volleyball?

The court for sitting volleyball is smaller, measuring 10 meters by 6 meters, with a 2-meter attack line, as compared to the standard volleyball court which is 18 meters by 9 meters with a 3-meter attack line.

What types of equipment are unique to sitting volleyball?

Sitting volleyball primarily uses the same equipment as standard volleyball with the exception that the sitting version uses a smaller court and a lower net – 1.15 meters for men and 1.05 meters for women.

Can you explain the classification system in sitting volleyball?

The classification system in sitting volleyball ensures fair competition. It evaluates the physical capabilities of players. It ensures that teams are comprised of athletes with varying degrees of impairment, thus maintaining a level playing field.

How has sitting volleyball evolved since its inception?

Since its inception in the early 1970s, sitting volleyball has grown in popularity. It has also become an established Paralympic sport. It has continually developed its own set of rules and adaptations to foster inclusivity.

Is the libero role present in sitting volleyball like it is in traditional volleyball?

Sitting volleyball does not have the libero player role that is present in traditional volleyball. This position is specialized for defensive skills and is characterized by a distinct jersey, but it is not a feature of sitting volleyball.

1 thought on “Difference Between Sitting Volleyball and Volleyball: Key Adaptations for Disabled Volleyball Athletes”

Leave a Comment