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Volleyball Variations

Beach volleyball
A newer variation of the game, beach volleyball, has evolved from the popular social games of volleyball played on many beaches around the world. This version, rather than played on indoor hard courts, is played on sand courts which may either be formed naturally or built specifically for the purpose. Instead of a team of six, each team consists of only two players, but otherwise the rules are almost identical with some exceptions including:

  • The size of the court (16 x 8m) (though many recreational players and regional organizations use the old 18 x 9m court)
  • The block always counts as the first contact
  • The disallowance of the open-hand dink or dump plays where a player uses their finger tips to redirect the ball into the opponent's court instead of a hard spike. A dink may be performed with a closed hand or knuckle
  • Stricter rules around double-contacts during hand setting
  • The disallowance of the first contact being an open-hand contact (i.e. a set)

Indoor Sand Volleyball
This is an even newer variation than beach volleyball. As beach volleyball took volleyball outdoors, indoor sand volleyball takes beach volleyball indoors. In the United States, a growing number of colleges are now considering switching from hard court indoor volleyball to sand court indoor volleyball. The biggest reason for the possible change is the reduced rate of injury of players. Secondary reasons are 1) bad weather doesn't cancel play as what commonly happens with beach volleyball and 2) it enable the game to be more appealing to spectators since sand courts do not need players to wear nobbing elbow and knee pads nor shoes. Still another reason for the expected success is the assumption that indoor teams will wear bikinis as beach volleyball teams do and thus increasing the sex appeal of the sport to male audiences. Indoor sand volleyball teams vary from two to six members, with college teams being six.

An indoor sand volleyball court normally doesn't have its own special arena, but uses an indoor basketball court. A protective tarp covers the floor of the basketball court and then "soft" sand is brought in and laid a foot deep over the tarp. The boundaries are commonly marked off with lines in the sand. However, a recent innovation uses colored lasers that illuminate the lines in the sand.

Sitting Volleyball
Sitting volleyball for locomotor-disabled individuals was first introduced in 1956 by the Dutch Sports Committee. International competition began in 1967, but it would be 1978 before the International Sports Organisation for the Disabled (ISOD) sanctioned the sport and sponsored an official international tournament in 1979 at Haarlem, Netherlands.

Players in this variation typically are amputees or paraplegics. The game is played on a smaller 10 x 6 meter court and with a 0.8 meter-wide net set to a height of 1.15 meters for men and 1.05 meters for women. When hitting or attacking the ball, players may not lift or raise the buttocks from the floor surface.

Men's sitting volleyball was introduced to the Paralympic Games in 1980 and has grown to be one of the more popular Paralympic sports due to the fast and exciting action. Women's sitting volleyball was added to the program for the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Greece. The international governing body for the sport is The World Organisation Volleyball for Disabled (WOVD).

Another attraction of sitting volleyball is how it eliminates the height of the players as a determining factor for team success. Blocks, spikes and overhand serves are easier to do for tall people thus they have a major advantage over short people during a normal volleyball game. Making all players sit removes this advantage.

Blind Volleyball
Another variation that tries to remove height of players as a determining factor in team success is blind volleyball. Ad-hoc blind volleyball is where sheets are draped over the net so one side cannot see the other side. A more formal type of blind volleyball removes the traditional volleyball net and replaces it with a tarp thick enough that shadows cast on it cannot be seen from the other side. Blocks, spikes, and overhand serves are prohibited. Blocks are almost impossible to do since it is difficult to know where the ball is going to come over the net. Spikes and overhand serves are prohibited because it is already very difficult for the receiving team to react to any incoming ball without the increased speed of a ball struck in such a manner.

Blind volleyball additionally creates a higher level of suspense for spectators, who, unlike the players, can see what is taking place on both sides.

Another unique feature of blind volleyball is how it can make the back row the row that hits the ball over the net. In regular volleyball, the back row tends to receive the volleyball and then move it to the front row. In blind volleyball, moving the ball to the back row makes it harder for the other team to see where the ball is and by hitting the ball on a flatter trajectory, the back-row players can more easily surprise the receiving team on where the ball will be coming over the net.

However, this variation of volleyball is unknown to most people.

Nine-man Volleyball
A variation of volleyball utilizing nine players and a slightly larger court originated in Asia in the 1920s when American missionaries introduced the game in China. The variant became popular within the Chinese-American communities in large US and Canadian cities, and continues to grow with a rotating popular tournament called the North American Chinese Invitational Tournament.

Co-ed Teams
Most competitive volleyball is played with same-sex teams (exclusively so at the elite levels). Mixed teams for indoor play with both male and female players operate under co-ed rules requiring alternating male and female players in the rotation or service order. The net is at a height halfway between men's and women's height. (Other variants include reverse co-ed, with a women's-height net and men prohibited from spiking inside the three-meter line, and co-ed on a men's-height net, in which one man may come from the back row to block, but not hit.) Additionally, in many leagues at least one contact of a team's possible three contacts must be made by a female player. Based on this rule, strategically, the setter on a co-ed team is usually a female player.

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