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An English author in the early nineteen century recorded that a five-a-side game similar to volleyball was played in the Middle Ages. Volleyball as we know it today, like basketball, had its beginnings in the 1890s in a YMCA gymnasium in Massachusetts, United States.

Basketball had led to the creation of volleyball because in 1895 William G Morgan was looking for an alternative activity for the middle-aged male users who had found basketball to be too strenuous. The sport originated with teams of nine and the current six-a-side indoor game appeared after World War I.

Wherever in the world the United States had an influence, volleyball was introduced. American soldiers took the game to Western Europe when they served in France in the Great War. From Western Europe the sport spread throughout the rest of that continent. By the 1930s the Communist Party of the USSR acknowledged that volleyball was one of the sports that would provide its citizens, of all ages, with a source of recreation.

Beach volleyball is thirty years younger than indoor volleyball. It too had its foundations in California. By World War II, the sport had spread considerably throughout Europe. The 1950s saw a further rise in popularity in the United States and the in 1980s the South Americans, particularly the Brazilians, embraced the game. Both versions of the sport have continued to grow around the world.


Olympic History

The International Volleyball Federation was founded in 1946, ten years before the sport was recognised by the International Olympic Committee. Volleyball (indoor) for men and women was added to the Olympic program in Tokyo 1964 with the Soviet Union winning the men’s and Japan the women’s in front of the home crowd.

Beach volleyball gained Olympic status in Atlanta 1996. The United States team of Charles “Karch” Kiraly and Kent Steffes won the men’s title. Kiraly was a member of the gold medal-winning United States team in indoor volleyball in Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988.


Volleyball competitions are held in indoor courts, by two teams of twelve, each with six players in the game and six on reserve. The volleyball court is rectangular, measuring 18 x 9 m. A net divides the court into two equal parts, two ‘team courts’.

The Court

The court for indoor volleyball is 9m x 9m each side and the beach court was reduced for Athens to 8m x 8m. The net height for men is 2.43m and 2.24m for women. In Volleyball, the team winning a rally scores a point (Rally Point System). When the receiving team wins a rally, it gains a point and the right to serve, and its players rotate one position clockwise.


Indoor matches are played in the “best of five set” format. The first four sets are played to 25 points and the fifth set to 15. For all sets a 2 point advantage is required, with no cap. Beach volleyball matches are the “best two of three set” format. The first team to win two sets wins the match. The first two sets are played to 21 points, and the 3rd set if needed is played to 15 points. For all sets a 2 point advantage is required, with no cap.


Field of Play

The field of play includes the Volleyball court and the free zone, in the shape of a rectangle. The court measures 18 x 9 m, while the free zone extends 5 m from the long side of the court and 8 m from the short side.

The court is divided into two equal parts by a net, which is placed vertically over the court’s central line. The net’s height is 2.43 m for the men’s event and 2.24 m for the women’s event. A line parallel to and 3 m away from the net separates each team’s court into two zones, the front zone (offensive) and the rear zone (defensive).


A match consists of five sets maximum. Each one of the first four sets is completed when a team wins 25 points, with a lead of at least two points over the opposing team (e.g. 25-23). In the case of a tie at 24-24, the set continues until one of the two teams takes a lead of 2 points and is declared winner of the set (e.g. 26-24).

The fifth set is completed when one team wins 15 points, having a lead of 2 points over the opposing team (e.g. 15-13). In the case of a tie at 14-14, the set continues until one of the two teams acquires a lead of two points and is declared winner of the set (e.g. 16-14 or 15-17).

The winner of the match is the team that wins three sets first.

The match begins with a service attempt. A service is hitting the ball with the aim of passing it over the net to the opposing team’s court, while standing in the “free zone”. Every play continues until the ball 'lands' on the floor within or outside the limits of the field of play.

Each team’s players are allowed to make contact with the ball three times, including contact during a defensive block on the ball, before returning it to the opposing team. The team that wins a play also wins the point. If the team receiving the service wins the play, it also wins the right to serve and its players move by one place in a clock-wise direction.

Two judges supervise the game, in cooperation with the marker and the lines’ supervisors (two or four depending on the level of the match). The two judges are placed in the imaginary extension of the central line of the court. The first judge is positioned on a (referee stand), about 50 to 80cm above the net’s highest point and is the one overseeing the game.

The second judge is responsible for the offences committed on the field. The marker is exclusively responsible for noting all acts on a list, while the lines’ supervisors oversee the contact of the ball on the court and its orbit in or out of the net’s antennas.


New Regulations


He is a specially trained defensive player who wears a shirt of a different colour than the rest of the team. He has the right to enter the match as a defender, a back-row player, on an unlimited number of occasions, without needing the approval of the referees. He is not allowed to serve, to spike the ball over the net, or to move into one of the front-row positions. However, his role is crucial in receiving the serves of the opposing team and in his own team's defensive play.

In the case of injury of the libero, the team coach, with the permission of the first referee, can appoint another player as libero for the rest of the game. However, the original libero cannot play again in the same match.

Coloured ball

The ball is round. It is made of rubber or synthetic leather, while its interior is an inflatable rubber tyre or other similar material. Its colour can either be a light one, or a combination of colours. Its circumference is between 65 and 67 mm, its weight between 260 and 280 g and its atmospheric pressure 0.30-0.325 Kg/cm2.

Technical recesses

The marker of the game grants the technical time-out, which is a pause during the match, automatically, as soon as the team that leads the score reaches the 8th and 16th point.

Penalty area

The person who is expelled for the rest of a set (when shown a red card by the referee) must sit in this specified area, so his behaviour can be monitored for the rest of the set.

Our Results

Total: 0 medals
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Atlanta 1996
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London 2012
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