There are 800 million players worldwide who play Volleyball at least
once a week, making it the second most popular participation sport in the
world (behind soccer). Both indoor (six-a-side) and outdoor or beach
volleyball (two-a-side) are now Olympic Sports, as well as having their
own World Championship events and Professional Leagues.
|History of volleyball
In 1895, William G. Morgan, an instructor at the Young Men's Christian
Association (YMCA) in Holyoke, Massachussetts in the United States,
decided to blend elements of basketball, baseball, tennis, and handball to
create a game for his classes of businessmen which would demand less
physical contact than basketball. He called this game "mintonette". Morgan
borrowed the net from tennis, and raised it 6 feet 6 inches above the
floor, just above the average man's head. During a demonstration game,
someone remarked to Morgan that the players seemed to be volleying the
ball back and forth over the net, and perhaps "volleyball" would be a more
descriptive name for the sport. On July 7, 1896 at Springfield College the
first game of volleyball was played.
|How is volleyball played?
Although much has changed since the early days, volleyball remains an
attractive game due to its simplicity. The main aim is simply to ground
the ball in your opponents' half of the court, whilst preventing them from
grounding it in your half. The basic rules are as follows.
Indoor volleyball is played with six players per team, divided by an
8ft net. The players are arranged in six starting positions as two rows of
three, a front row (next to the net) and a back row. Play begins with one
team serving the ball over the net. The other team then has three touches
to get the ball back without it touching the ground. The usual actions are
an underhand dig (with the forearms) by one player, then an overhand set
or volley (with open hands) by another player so that a third player can
spike (smash) the ball back over the net. The opposing team can jump up to
try and block the spike, but then have their own three touches in which to
first keep the ball off the floor and then get the ball back over the net
A point is won when the ball lands, either in or out of court. The team
that won the last point serve, and if they have just regained the serve
from their opponents, that team's players rotate one position clockwise
(called a side-out).
|Volleyball: the ultimate team game
Volleyball is probably the ultimate team game. Players may not make
consecutive touches of the ball, hence at least two different players must
be involved in every rally. So even the best players need to rely upon
excellent teamwork in order to win.
Furthermore, the rotation rule unique to volleyball means that everyone
gets a turn in every position. Most of us will remember that in school
playground or pick-up games of soccer, for example, the bigger and/or
better players would play striker all the time, with smaller/lesser
players relegated to the less glamorous positions. In volleyball, this
can't happen; everyone has a chance to play every position sooner or
|Get fit: play volleyball
Most people in the UK know volleyball through the "family reunion" form
of the game. In this, twelve players stand stock still on each side of a
net and get to bat the ball up in the air every couple of minutes, when it
drops near them. Played properly, however, volleyball is an outstanding
sport for overall fitness; in terms of the variety of muscle groups
utilised, it is on a par with swimming and cycling. As volleyball is such
a fast game, players must move from defensive to attacking positions
within a play lasting only two or three seconds. All players must run
between tactical positions, jump to block or spike, and control the ball
with their hands and arms using a variety of skills, including diving and
sprawling to the floor in some defensive situations.
|Playing volleyball for fun
CUVC caters for all standards of volleyball player, but the emphasis of
the club at all levels is enjoyment, both sporting and social. For
recreational players we have regular training sessions where our friendly
coaches help anyone learn the basics or improve their game. We also enter
several mixed teams from all levels in the Cambridge local leagues.
Wherever possible, training sessions and local league matches are coupled
with social events (often at a nearby pub), making volleyball a good way
to meet people and make new friends. In the summer, volleyball heads
outdoors for the College Summer Leagues and Cuppers, where teams from all
over the University do battle on the green fields of Cambridge.
|Playing volleyball a bit more seriously
The Men's and Women's Blues teams play in the national student
tournaments (BUSA and EVA) with the season culminating in the Varsity
Match against Oxford. In recent years the Cambridge Men's team has been
one of the outstanding sides in the country, placing in the Finals of both
BUSA and EVA tournaments, and winning a hat-trick of Varsity Matches in
1999, 2000 and 2001. Meanwhile the Women's team finally came out of the
shadows cast by their perennially powerful Oxford counterparts in 2001,
winning a thrilling Varsity Match and placing 4th in the EVA and 2nd in
the BUSA Finals, Club best-ever performances.
The high standard of coaching offered by CUVC is one of the major
advantages of playing volleyball in the University. With most College
sports, such as soccer and rugby, only a handful of elite players make the
Blues squads. Everyone else is left to join their College teams, with only
low levels of coaching and little prospect of improvement. In volleyball,
however, our network of experienced coaches means that players of all
levels can maximise their own ability . Hence, whilst the Men's Blues team
has in recent years contained Junior International standard players from
Spain and Denmark, last year's Blues squad also contained two "home-grown"
players who had not even taken up the sport until becoming undergraduates
at Cambridge, but had worked their way through the coaching system. Want a
Cambridge Blue? Take up volleyball.