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Serving up fun & fitness



As a recreational sport, volleyball is a natural; as a mood booster there's almost nothing better. Learn the basics and how this good-mood sport can benefit you.

Walk by your local school gym or community centre on a weeknight evening, and you may be serenaded with the sounds of adult laughter. You may also hear hearty cheers following the squeak and scurry of sneakers and the unmistakable crack and thud of ball against human parts.

At a time when it has become increasingly difficult to find something to laugh about, we may be missing a goldmine of fun, fitness, and frivolity—that costs only as much as the price of a good pair of sneakers.

Volleyball’s for everyone

As a recreational sport, volleyball is a natural. And as a mood booster, there’s almost nothing better. Not only is volleyball inexpensive, it’s also extremely social. And because many people can relate to a time in their lives when they’ve played volleyball—with classmates at school, with family in the backyard, or with friends on the beach—it’s a game that almost anyone can play.

Even if, in the misty depths of your memory, you can’t recall a time when you’ve served, bumped, or volleyed a ball across a net, you can still have some fun with this quick-to-learn game. Indeed, some of the best fun happens when the ball careens off a wild attempt to score … a point or a good belly laugh!

The birth of volleyball

Volleyball was born in 1895 from the creative mind of William G. Morgan, an instructor at the YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Morgan took a chance, blending the elements of handball, baseball, basketball, and tennis with the idea of creating a game that required little physical contact.

From this blend of several sports came the game of mintonette, a name that was quickly changed to volleyball when an onlooker during a demonstration game commented that the players appeared to be volleying the ball. The rest is history. By 1964 volleyball was introduced into the Olympics, and today its global popularity ranks almost as high as soccer among participation sports.

Spike your health

Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in Canada, according to a national sports participation survey. Why do we enjoy it so much? Volleyball is:

  • Fitness-enhancing. Leg muscles get a great workout; hand-eye coordination skills are honed.
  • Social. Volleyball involves communicating with others and working as part of a team.
  • Adaptable. Volleyball can be played indoors or out, year-round, with many participants or just two-on-two.

Visit Volleyball Canada ( to find a place to volley near you.

Volleyball 101

Indoor volleyball is played in a gymnasium with a net, poles, and a ball. Lines on the gymnasium floor indicate the boundaries of the court, and a referee oversees the game and makes rulings. Usually, two teams of six players each compete on opposing sides of the net.

The object of the game is to use hands and arms to keep the volleyball in the air—if it touches the floor inside one team’s half of the court, the other team scores a point. The opposing team will also score a point if the competing team sends the ball out of bounds or hits it more than three times in succession.

Scoring systems can differ, but usually, the first team to reach 25 points wins the set. There are five sets in a match.

Aim of the game

Serve: This move starts off the game and each new rally. The server stands in an allotted area at the back of the court and strikes the ball with the hand or arm, sending the ball over the net and into the opponent’s court.

Pass: This is the initial touch handling the opponent’s serve or return. Also called reception, the pass is most commonly performed using an underhand hit called a bump. Passes should be executed so that the ball reaches the next player in a controlled manner.

Set: The main objective of the set is to send the ball into the air in such a way that it can then be driven into the opponent’s side of the court by an attack. Setting is more commonly performed overhand, rather than with a bump.The set is generally the second contact that a team has with the ball, after the pass.

Attack: After the ball is set, the third and last touch of the ball by a team should be an attack shot. The goal of an attack shot is to hit the ball so that it cannot be defended and lands on the opposing team’s side of the court. A spike, which is a hard, fast downward shot, is one of the most common forms of attack.



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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD