Contact: Mark Simmons
Volleyball (in Cornwall) FAQ:
Q: Volleyball is that game played by half naked supermodels on the beach isn't it?
A: If only it was always like that! In fact Volleyball is more often played indoors than on the beach and is reckoned to be the third most participated in sport in the world.
Q: How many people on a team?
A: In 'proper' indoor volleyball there are six per team, and on the beach you play in pairs or sometimes fours. In official competitions teams are divided into Men's and Ladies but at local level it's normal to have mixed teams.
Q: I vaguely remember playing it at school, remind me of the basic rules again
A: Each team gets three 'hits' per side to get the ball back over the net, with the aim of grounding the ball in their opponents court. You're not allowed to hit the ball twice in a row. Although mostly played with the hands you can actually use any part of the body. A match is the best of five sets with each set going up to 25 points, except the fifth which goes up to 15. If you win a point your team gets the serve. When you win the serve back you positionally rotate clockwise around the court. There are officially three front court players and three backcourt players at any one time on your team. You must be in your "rotational position" at the moment the ball is served but can move freely about the court after that, although backcourt players are not allowed to hit the ball above net height.
Q: How big is the court?
A: Indoor, it's 18m x 9m
Q: And you just whack it over with your hands, right?
A: There are four main skills in Volleyball: the "volley" - an overhead pass made by two hands that is seen most often as the ball is 'set' to be hit by a team mate; the "dig" - essentially a defensive action made by letting the ball hit the upturned wrists of your stretched, straight arms that will normally be the first of your teams three 'hits' as you defend an opponents attack; the "spike" - the one handed glory shot, you hit the ball from above the net down towards your opponents court; and the "block" - the equally glorious way of stopping your opponents attack by raising two hands over net to prevent one of your opponents 'spikes' from getting through. Confusingly, a block doesn't count as one of your teams three 'hits'.
Q: You have to be tall to play Volleyball though, don't you?
A: No, not at all. Obviously it helps if your tall with the men's net at 2.43m and it's doubtful whether there will be many players below six and a half foot competing at the next Olympics but if your ambitions are lower than that it really is a game that can be enjoyed by anyone. Like in many sports there are different positions in Volleyball that will suit different people.
Q: But surely you have to be young and fit, what with all that jumping around?
A: Again, that would help but not necessary. Volleyball was invented in 1895 by William G Morgan, a YMCA gym instructor from New York, as a sporting alternative to Basketball, a newly invented sport that was beginning to develop. It was necessary to find "a less violent and less intense alternative"
Describing his first experiments he said: "In search of an appropriate game, tennis occurred to me, but this required rackets, balls, a net and other equipment, so it was eliminated - but the idea of a net seemed a good one. We raised it to a height just above the head of an average man. We needed a ball, and among those we tried was a basketball bladder, but this was too light and too slow, we therefore tried the basketball itself, which was too big and too heavy"
In the two leagues in Cornwall there are men and women players ranging in age from 14 to 70.
Q: Does it hurt, hitting the ball with your hands all the time?
A: Not really and you soon get used to it.
Q: Is Volleyball in the Olympics?
A: It's actually one of the most popular sports at the Olympics. Team GB qualifies as hosts for the London 2012 games and preparations are in full swing. The Men's GB team are currently playing under the guise of 'Martinus' in the Dutch pro league and will do so until the London games: assembling the first ever professional British Volleyball squad, living and breathing the sport for the next four years, playing in one of the top leagues in the world- all in an effort to achieve the status of "not embarrassing" as host nation!!!
Q: It will always be a minority sport won't it?
A: It's only a minority sport in the UK!! In the rest of the world it enjoys vast support and television coverage. Poland even has its own Volleyball TV Channel! Italy, France, Spain and Holland have particularly strong leagues in Europe. The Elite event (apart from Olympics) is the FIVB "World League" for Men and "Grand Prix" for Women. Brazil are currently the champions and have been for the last five years.
More than 1.1 billion TV viewers in 110 countries watched the 2007 World League Gold Medal match!
Q: What about here in Cornwall, is it popular?
A: The Cornwall Volleyball Association was formed in 1981 and has been going strong ever since. There is a first and second division so a standard can be found whatever your level. There is also a Kernow team that enters the South West Regional League. There are clubs based at Ludgvan, Helston, St Austell, St Mawgan and Culdrose. Countrymen Volleyball Club hosts an annual Beach Tournament in June at Perranporth which is open to one and all, and also a weekly Friday night beach competition outside the Sloop Inn at St Ives. It is also played and taught in a number of schools. Contact details for all clubs and competitions can be found at the new website.
Q: It all sounds a bit serious! I just want to have a laugh, get fit and maybe make new friends.
A: Seriously, Volleyball is ideal for all three. There's not a better sport for the social side of things and at local level, especially, clubs are very family orientated.
Q: Do you have to have any special expensive gear?
A: Nope, just a normal pair of trainers, shorts or jogging trousers, and t-shirt will do. (And of course on the beach even less!) Some people wear knee pads but you can get them for about £20 at the most.
Q: OK, I'll give it a go. What's the best way to find out where to play?
A: Easy! Just visit www.cornwallvolleyball.co.uk
Also you can go to www.getactivecornwall.co.uk to search for clubs / activity near you!