All the gear – Sitting Volleyball Equipment
By Matt Rogers
One of the most common questions asked by people looking to get started with Sitting Volleyball is; ‘What equipment do I need an where can I buy it…?’
Whilst answering the second part is very dependent on where you are in the world (and your budget!), the first part is something we can give some guidance on as to get the ball flying certain things are essential. Then to take it to the next level and start competing, some others also get added to the list. Right, here goes.
Clearly one of the most important things to get right when starting is the ball! Both in terms of choice, but also quantity as the last thing you want when playing Sitting Volleyball is to constantly have to go and retrieve balls during drills or activities.
Generally speaking, the rules on balls for Sitting Volleyball are:
- Must be spherical
- Made of leather
- Circumference 65 – 67 cm
- Weight 260 – 280 g
- Suitably pressurised
This is the same as with Olympic Volleyball and very similar to Olympic Beach Volleyball.
When starting out there are a wide range of balls that could be used. Sitting Volleyball coaches do tend to have varying views on whether you should start with a lighter ball with beginners or not. I usually tend to do so, as the first thing you have to do is make it fun so that they wish to come back. And if the ball hurts to play it (which it can when people do not know how to play it properly) then that would really put people off.
A full size and weight ball may move through the air too quickly for beginners who may struggle to move to play it. Some ways to slow it down and make it easier are to: use a bigger ball, use a lighter ball or allow a bounce.
Once you get into competition a few select balls are used all over the world. In World ParaVolley competitions this is the Molten FLISTATEC 5000 ball which is “equipped with technology that stabilises the flight path of the ball by optimising the air control around the ball and reducing turbulence” (and yes that was taken from their website).
In other national competitions other balls are often used, such as the Mikasa V200W or the gala Pro Line.
With total beginners you can even start with a beach ball, or even better is a balloon ball (where you put a balloon inside a material cover.
The ball you use should always be altered in line with; the level of the group, and the purpose of the activity that you are attempting. Then over time gradually progress towards the correct weight and sized ball. Or vary the exercises to allow for more time for players to move and react.
As players/groups develop, another option is to attempt some specific activity with different variations of volleyballs.
* A smaller “mini” ball helps to develop ball control techniques
* A heavier ball helps to develop strength in the wrists and arms
* A bigger/lighter ball helps to develop movement technique
* A tiny ball helps to develop reactions
Forgetting all this though, the most important thing (that most volleyballers will testify from when they started the sport) is that the ball doesn’t HURT when they try and play it!
Clearly the crucial factor for any post/net system is that they are secured and safe. Fixing the posts to the floor using floor sockets is the preferred option and it is important this is done by a professional company who have experience and knowledge of the floor you are drilling into.
If you can’t drill any extra sockets your choice of posts will largely depend on the sockets already in situ in the floor and how they line up to any floor markings you intend to use.
Another option is to get a Volleyball net system that fixes to the walls and just arrange it in such a way that it can be lowered to Sitting Volleyball height (see image above).
If it is not possible to have any sockets in the floor some not systems do exist with weights however it is really important that the weight used is safely positioned, secured and able to withstand a player falling into the post.
When people start out the two most common set-ups that I see are a lowered Volleyball net that is then pulled up at the bottom (a Sitting Volleyball net is only 80cm in height where as a Volleyball one is 1m) or the simply start with Badminton Posts secured at around half way. With this second solution the weights here aren’t very substantial so a heavy ball could easily knock them over.
There are also some plastic base systems that have been used which you fill with water to weigh them down.
For any option that isn’t secured into the floor or wall I would check with your school or sports hall insurance policy just to ensure that you are covered.
For a more hall specific, ‘DIY’ option, have a watch of this video produced by USA Volleyball.
Clearly the most important thing is that your net works with your chosen Post or fixing method. The main requirements in terms of the rules are that the net is 80cms in height and 7m in length with a 7cm white band on the top and a 5 cm white band at the bottom.
When trying to get tension, elastics or bungee cords can be very useful. Ideally the net should be the same height the whole way along, however a 2cm leniency is given from the middle to the ends.
Once erect, you then need to attach your antenna (which should be 1.60 in length) to the net 50cm in from both sides. These show the crossing space that the ball should go between.
Let’s start with the ideal situation, if budget is no issue and you can leave your floor down/out all the time then the Paralympic Games supplier can be found here: https://www.gerflor.com/
The flooring comes in 1.5m widths of any length and usually the playing area is a different colour to the free zone.
One thing we did in England which worked great for both training, promotion and competition was we worked with Gerflor to weld some thinner bits of badminton taraflex flooring together to make 3m lengths and permanently paint the court lines on so that you could just un-roll and play.
However more realistic is that you are just going to play on the surface that is in the hall where you are. In this case please do take the time to sweep it, to remove both the dirt but also any sharp objects. Where possible, also give it a magnet sweep to guarantee there is nothing sharp at all (you can buy these fairly cheap on line).
Another couple of things to look out for with wooden floors are rough or damaged wood that could cause splinters, and also check if the slats/planks of wood move in any way? As if so there is the potential for someone to trap some skin between some when moving around.
The rules state that shirt and bottoms need to all be identical across a team however due to the nature of the range of disabilities on the lower limb often teams starting up just purchase a set of shirts and nominate a colour for the bottom half leaving people to wear whatever they feel comfortable in.
Material is important; you really want something that is low friction as the last thing you want is a shirt that slows you down when it touches the floor.
Players, particularly Sitting Volleyball players are all shapes and sizes; get a wide spread of sizes if you aren’t buying shirts for specific people. Remember it is easier to wear one that is too big, than too small!
If you have big ambitions to compete in competitions, make sure you get the player number size and placement correct on both the front and the back.
Some other things that are useful to have when running a session or match:
A Ball Trolley – to help keep the balls together and move them around with you as you are coaching.
Scoreboard – to stop those ‘what’s the score’ arguments! Some other options for this that I have seen that work well is a numbered sheet that you move a clothing peg down as teams win points, or an A4 folder with a laminated page per number that you simply turn over.
Or if you have got some spare cash consider a Radar Gun or an automatic ball feeder… ok maybe not!