26 August 2019

London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to indoor volleyball

June 19, 2012
London 2012: Bluffer's guide to indoor volleyball

Initially called ‘Mintonette’, the sport changed its name when a spectator commented that the game involved a lot of volleying the ball back and forth, so this would be a more appropriate name.

Volleyball has been contested as an indoor sport at the Summer Olympic Games since 1964 and is officially the national sport of Sri Lanka.

It takes many of its characteristics from handball and tennis with its quick pace nature and hand eye coordination.

Venue: Earls Court

Date: 27 July – 12 August

Jargon buster

Free ball : A ball that is passed over the net because an attack wasn’t possible.

Joust: When the ball is falling directly on top of the net, two opposing players jump and push against the ball, trying to push it onto the other’s side.

Kill : successful, legal, point-scoring spike attack.

Shank: When a player unintentionally passes a ball in a wild manner, rendering it unplayable to his or her teammates.

Side out: When the team that served the ball loses the rally, causing the other team to serve the next point.

Strong side: The left side of the court, so-called because it is usually the easier side for right-handed players to attack from.

Basic rules

Volleyball is played between two teams of six on an indoor court that measures 60ft by 30ft and with the teams being separated by a high net that is set at 2.24m (2.43m for men).

Each team is allowed three touches to get the ball back over the net to their opposition, though the same player can’t touch the ball consecutively.

Points are won when the ball hits the floor inside the opponents’ half of the court (on the line counts as in), the opponents fail to get the ball back over the net or hit the ball outside the court.

The team that wins the point serves next. If they served previously it will be the same player to serve, if not it is rotated to the next player – the six players are arranged in two banks of three and rotate clockwise when they serve.

Matches are the best of five sets. Twelve competing nations are split into two groups of six before quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final

One to watch

Grace Carter – She currently plays for French league team Terville, which allowed her to play at an elevated standard throughout the winter months but has played for the British national team since its creation in 2007.

Her position is a middle blocker, which means she’s predominantly at the net and is required to both block and attack.

Olympic rivalry?

No Olympic rivalries as of yet as this is Team GB’s debut at the Games.

Who’s the gold medal favourite?

The Cuban women’s team captained by Yumilka Ruiz Lua, are a formidable force on the courts. They were unbeaten in all international competition from 1992 in Barcelona up to the 2002 World Championships in Germany, claiming three Olympic golds and two World Championships. Brazil are the reigning Olympic champions.

Who to follow on twitter…


@ladycoach_coops – Head GB women’s coach Audrey Cooper


@Osborne_03 – GB’s women’s captain Nichola Osbourne

Indoor Volleyball Olympic fact

Ranked well outside the world’s top 50, Team GB were granted a place at their first Olympics as the host nation.

Their task of performing at such an elite level was made even more difficult when their public funding was axed in 2010, forcing many players to search for professional careers abroad as they seek the finance and quality competition over the winter months necessary to prepare for an Olympics.

For example 16 members of the British volleyball squad, including Grace Carter, took part in a 272-mile bike ride in order to raise the money needed to fund their Olympic dream.

Their story at this Olympic Games is one of unlikelihood and guts, reminding us of the famous improbable Jamaican bobsleigh team at the 1988 Calgary Games.

The Women’s Sports Magazine

Photo credit: Mark Pritchard


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