ParaVolley & Deaf Volleyball

Volleyball Australia is committed to providing opportunities for people with a disability in the form of three key disciplines: Sitting Volleyball, Standing Beach Volleyball and Deaf Volleyball, all of which offer competition opportunities at the local, national and international levels.

The term Para Volley is used to refer to the two disciplines of Sitting Volleyball and Standing Beach Volleyball. Volleyball Australia also support Deaf Volleyball.

Why Become Invovled

Volleyball - The Ideal Sport for People with a Disability

Volleyball is an ideal sport that can cater for a wide range of individuals with a disability.

Volleyball is a uniquely inclusive sport, as it can involve people with minor disabilities, as well as people who are more severely disabled. For example, top international Sitting Volleyball teams use setters who are double leg amputees.

Volleyball is considered an economical discipline, especially for Sitting Volleyball, since no expensive prostheses or wheelchairs and no specialised equipment is needed. The only facilities needed are: floor space, a rope or net, and a ball.

As a team sport, volleyball can be played by people with a disability together with able-bodied individuals. It is versatile, being played by youths, juniors, adults and seniors in any combination. Unlike many sports, volleyball can be played at all levels co-educationally, creating a sociable and integrated atmosphere appreciated by all involved.

There is great potential for fun, inclusion and cooperation


While he was doing research at Oxford University in early 1944 Sir (then Doctor) Ludwig Guttmann (Neurologist and Neurosurgeon) was asked by the British Government to set up a Spinal Injury Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Here he put into practice unique ideas of treatment and rehabilitation of spinal cord paralysed patients - previously regarded as hopeless and helpless cripples with a short life expectancy.

That he was successful in establishing a spinal cord injury service, a model to the whole world, is a matter of history. But there was a particular aspect of his philosophy and foresight that was to have far-reaching influence on the lives of many other types of disabled persons all over the world.

In 1948, the first Stoke Mandeville Games were held with the participation of 16 paralysed wheelchair competitors in archery. The Games became "International" in 1952 with the participation of a Dutch team of war veterans. Interestingly, the Paralympic Games, a name that was approved by the IOC in 1984, began under a different name "International Stoke Mandeville Games" in 1952.

Sir Ludwig Guttmann said: "If I ever did one good thing in my medical career, it was to introduce sport into the treatment and rehabilitation programme of spinal cord sufferers and other severely disabled".


The first sports club for the disabled was established in the Netherlands as late as 1953. Athletics and Sitzball (of German origin) were the primary sports. Soon it was found that Sitzball, which is played sitting down on the floor, was too passive; more mobile forms of sports were sought.

The Dutch Sport Committee in 1956 introduced a new game, 'Sitting Volleyball', combining sitzball and Volleyball. Since this time Sitting Volleyball has grown universally as one of the most practiced sports in competition for the disabled but also interested 'able-bodied' players with injuries to the knees or ankles.

Since 1967, international competitions have occurred, but it was not until 1978 that Sitting Volleyball was included in the International Sports Organisation for the Disabled (ISOD) program. The first official International Tournament - under the umbrella of the ISOD - took place in 1979 in Haarlem (the Netherlands).

In 1980, it was accepted as a Paralympic Sport with the participation of seven teams. The international development can be called tumultuous. Clinics have been held all over the world. Since 1993, Sitting Volleyball championships were organised for men and women. It has become one of the main team-sports in the Paralympic Program. It is a fast, exciting and crowd-pleasing sport, which can show the athletic skills of disabled athletes of both genders. Sitting Volleyball had the potential to grow into a sport in which the disabled and non-disabled persons can play at a high technical level.


 Standing Volleyball was played by disabled sportsmen long before the International Federation was founded. It has its roots in Great Britain and was originally only played by amputees. Due to the variations of amputation, a classification system was set up and players were put into one of nine categories. To encourage those with a more severe amputation to participate, a point system on court was introduced - each player received points for the degree of amputation - and 13 points was the minimal team requirement on court.

In 1984, it was decided to open up the game to allow other disability groups to take part, thereby encouraging more nations to participate. Although this initially created more classification problems, the World Organisation Volleyball for Disabled (WOVD) eventually established criteria for classification, which included those players with various arm or leg disabilities. Since 2013 the WOVD has been branded as “World ParaVolley” and is responsible for the world-wide planning and development of all forms of Volleyball for people with a physical impairment – this responsibility is recognized by the International Paralympic Committee.


Small international competitions have taken place since the 1960s. Yet, it was not until 1976 that Volleyball was put in the Paralympic Program in Toronto, Canada. Since the 1980s there has been regular international competition. Standing Beach Volleyball commenced around 2011 with the first World Championship for men planned for 2014 in Adelaide, Australia.


The first international games for the deaf was founded in 1924 as a stand-alone event, making it the second oldest event organized in the Olympic Movement spirit. The original name of the competition was the "International Silent Games" and later the "World Games for the Deaf".

In 2001, the International Olympic Committee granted ICSD permission to identify its quadrennial games as Summer Deaflympics and Winter Deaflympics.


During the Deaflympics, deaf athletes compete against and interact with each other in sign language. Sign language interpreters are utilized when hearing people are involved.

The 1995 ICSD Congress voted unanimously to disaffiliate from the IPC, as the deaf international community felt it was in its best interests to retain autonomous control and management.

Sitting Volleyball

What is Sitting Volleyball?

Sitting Volleyball is an adapted game for people with disabilities. It has enjoyed full Paralympic status since 1980. The game is an excellent vehicle for players returning from injury during rehabilitation.

How does it differ from the generic game?

The court is smaller — 10m x 6m
The net is lower — 1.15m for men and 1.05m for women
Players remain seated on court during play
The service can be blocked
The passage of play is quicker due to the reduced court size

Who can play?

Sitting Volleyball is open to athletes with a physical disability who meet the minimum disability requirements for Volleyball. An athlete’s disability must be permanent (either progressive or non-progressive). Athletes with progressive physical disabilities are given a temporary classification and must be classified at each competition.

Competitors can include athletes with cerebral palsy, athletes who are amputees, athletes with limb paralysis, athletes with joint restrictions, athletes with shortened limbs, athletes with progressive illnesses such as muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis, etc.

Sitting Volleyball provides the opportunity for enjoyable competition between abled bodied players and players with a disability. Able-bodied players have no advantage over disabled players, making the game very suitable for integrating able & disabled players.

Sitting Volleyball: World ParaVolley Official Sitting Volleyball Rules 2013-2016

Standing Volleyball

What is Standing Beach Volleyball?

Standing Beach Volleyball (so-named to distinguish it from Sitting Beach Volleyball) is played on sand with much the same rules and conditions as able-bodied Beach Volleyball that is played at the Olympic Games.

How does it differ from the generic game?

The only differences are that teams are comprised of three players and there are special rules relating to time-outs for repair of prostheses. Thus, the court size, net height, volleyball and scoring system are the same as the generic game.

Who can play?

Standing Beach Volleyball is open to ambulant athletes with a physical disability who meet the minimum disability requirements for D-Volleyball. An athlete’s disability must be permanent (either progressive or non-progressive). Athletes with progressive physical disabilities are given a temporary classification and must be classified at each competition.
Competitors can include athletes with cerebral palsy, athletes who are amputees, athletes with limb paralysis, athletes with joint restrictions, athletes with shortened limbs, athletes with progressive illnesses such as muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis, etc.

In Australia, Standing Beach Volleyball teams of three are able to compete in official competitions against able-bodied teams of two players.

Standing Beach Volleyball: World ParaVolley Beach Rules Standing 2013-2016

Deaf Volleyball

What is Deaf Volleyball?

Volleyball for the hearing impaired varies only in minor ways from the generic form of the sport. In formal competition it caters for individuals who have a minimum hearing loss of 55 dB in the better ear.

How does it differ from the generic game?

The most predominant difference from the generic form of volleyball is that a red flag is used for signalling in place of the commonly used whistle.

Who can play?

In formal competitions individuals must be affiliated with a national association and be recognised as having a minimum hearing loss of 55 dB in the better ear. Classification procedures apply and can be viewed on the CISS website. However, in social competitions any individual can participate if they suffer from hearing impairment and classification will vary between social competitions.

Deaf Volleyball: FIVB rules apply (as per Olympic Games) and a red flag is used for signalling instead of a whistle.


Classification systems provide the means to group together athletes with a similar level of impairment in relation to a particular sport. The objective of classification is to ensure that the result of sport competition is determined by sport skill, rather than differences in the level of impairment or disability. In a team sport, such as Volleyball, teams are composed of a group of athletes with a set combination of classifications, thereby ensuring that a team’s overall impairment or disability level is similar. This creates a level playing field between teams as well as allowing a mix of players with varying degrees of ability to play at the one time.

Classification as it applies to each discipline is as follows:


There are 2 classes for Sitting Volleyball. These are:
MD (minimal disability): these athletes either have a similar level of impairment as the "A" standing volleyball players, or they meet the minimal disability special condition applicable especially to Sitting Volleyball. These conditions include severe ligamentous instability of the knee or shoulder and several others.
D (disabled): these athletes have impairments that are equivalent to the "B" and "C" players described for Standing Beach Volleyball.
A Sitting Volleyball team may have a maximum of one (1) "MD" player on court at any time, and the remainder of the team must be made up of "D" players.


Three levels of classification exist within Standing Beach Volleyball. They range from A to B to C.

Class A: This includes an athlete with a minimum disability level as is relative to skills and functions required to play Volleyball. Examples of players in the 'A' class include hand or foot amputees, neurological or other physical injury resulting in a minor level of muscular weakness, or restricted range of motion. Strict minimal disability criteria apply.

Class B: This group has more impairment of physical function than "A" class athletes. Examples of players in the 'B' class include below elbow or below knee amputees, moderate level of neurological damage resulting in moderate level of muscle weakness. Here a point system applies to the classification process.

Class C: This group of athletes has the greatest amount of physical impairment. Examples of players in the 'C' class include above elbow or above knee amputees, neurological damage resulting in severe muscle weakness. Here a point system applies to classification.

A typical Standing Beach Volleyball team will have a maximum of 1 "A" player on court, and the other players may be either “B” or “C”. However, it is possible to have a team comprised of only “B” and “C” players.


In Australia, a person may compete in Deaf Sports if they are identified as Deaf in any way.

'Deaf Sports Australia has an 'inclusive' policy, for example, persons with any degree of hearing loss are eligible for membership. It might be noted that for international events sanctioned under the Committé International des Sports des Sourds (CISS),including the Deaflympics Games, deaf athletes need to meet the CISS hearing criteria. This ruling requires a hearing loss of at least 55db in the better ear (three tone frequency average of 500, 1000 and 2000 hertz)”. Classification procedures and criteria are described on the CISS web site at Click on "about," then "regulations," then scroll down to Article 1.3 on eligibility.

Please note that these are basic examples only. Actual classification processes and guidelines are highly complex and are not easily summarized.

Information and Resources

This page includes links to additional information about Volleyball for people with a disability and for those who are interested in getting involved.

General Information:

Deaf Volleyball


The inaugural Invictus Games in London 2014 used the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women. The Invictus Games Foundation has been set up to develop this legacy, manage the process of selecting the hosts of future games and oversee their delivery. The second Invictus Games will took place in Orlando, 8th-12th May 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The third Invictus Games took place in Toronto, Canada, 23rd-30th September 2017 and the fourth took place at home in Sydney, Australia, 20th-27th October 2018. The next one is due to take place in The Hague, Netherlands, 9th-16th May 2020.


Most of us will never know the full horrors of combat. Many Servicemen and women suffer life-changing injuries, visible or otherwise, whilst serving their country. How do these men and women find the motivation to move on and not be defined by their injuries?

How can they be recognised for their achievements and not given sympathy? Prince Harry asked these questions. On a trip to the Warrior Games in the USA in 2013 he saw how the power of sport could help physically, psychologically and socially. His mind was made up. London would host the inaugural Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel.

The word ‘Invictus’ means ‘unconquered’. It embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel and what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post injury. The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.

The sports that are played in Invictus Games include:

1. Archery
2. Driving Challenge
3. Indoor Rowing
4. Powerlifting
5. Road Cycling
6. Sitting Volleyball
7. Swimming
8. Track and Field
9. Wheelchair Basketball
10. Wheelchair Rugby
11. Wheelchair Tennis

For more information please visit:

Invictus Games Official Site:

For more information the Sydney 2018 Games please visit their website at