Volleyball Around the World: Different Variations of the Sport


Volleyball is one of the most popular sports globally, with over 800 million players worldwide. While the common 6 vs. 6 indoor volleyball game is well known, localized versions of the game have emerged in different countries and regions over the last century.

The basic concept of volleyball, involving two teams, a net, and a ball, remains constant. However, volleyball rules, number of players, court size, and equipment adaptations have birthed intriguing variations tailored to local cultures and preferences.

Let’s explore some of the most prominent alternative forms of volleyball played internationally:

Beach Volleyball

The beach version is volleyball’s most famous variant, played on sand courts by two-player teams. Originating in California, it rapidly gained popularity across the world through tournaments like the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.

Beach volleyball requires excellent ball control and defensive skills to counter wind and sand friction. Jump serves, digs, open-hand passing, and agile movement are vital techniques. Blocking is difficult on the sand, so defense relies on floor coverage.

The court dimensions are 16m x 8m, smaller than indoor volleyball courts. Matches are best of three sets to 21 points. Beach volleyball made its Olympic debut in 1996 and is arguably more exciting than the indoor game!

Grass Volleyball

Some regions play volleyball tournaments on grass, often just for fun. Grass volleyball originated as off-season training for indoor players to maintain their skills. It is now its own niche event globally.

Grass courts are slippery, so optimum footwork is important. The game is typically 4 vs. 4 on a smaller court. Grass volleyball prioritizes explosive, reactive play, and slide defense, similar to how football is played on grass. Many easy adaptations, like clothing, court boundaries, and point scoring, differentiate it from formal indoor volleyball.

Sitting Volleyball

Sitting volleyball is contested between two teams of 6 players each on a 10m x 6m court, who remain seated with their bottoms in contact with the floor whenever they make contact with the ball. It evolved as a paralympic sport for people with mobility disabilities.

Players use customized techniques like side rolls, under-hand passes, pulls instead of spikes and one-handed blocks. Despite the seated position, the game still involves dynamic movement around court. Sitting volleyball is played internationally at the Paralympics and World Championships.


Footvolley combines volleyball played with feet instead of hands on a court, resembling beach volleyball. Originating in the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, foot volleyball is popular in Brazil and Portugal as an athletic and recreational sport.

Players use soccer-style kicks, taps, headers, and volleys to pass the ball over the net and score points. No hand contact with the ball is allowed. Points, net height, substitutions, and court size mirror beach volleyball. It improves soccer ball control and adds a fun flair to volleyball.


Also known as ‘fast volleyball’, Speedball is a modified indoor volleyball game invented at UC Berkeley in the late 1980s. Teams of 2 to 4 players compete on a badminton-sized court with a lower net.

Speedball emphasizes lightning-quick reflexes, hand-eye coordination, explosive power and continuous rallies through adapted scoring, height, boundary and rotation rules. Matches are just 7-10 minutes long but intensely fast-paced and demanding. It improves volleyball reactive instincts.

Crab Volleyball

This fun variation forces players to assume a crab position – hands and feet on floor with hips raised. Teams of 2 to 4 compete by passing the ball sideways while remaining in motion like crabs! Points are scored if the ball falls or the opponent moves out of crab position.

Crab volleyball, invented in South Korea, is a great casual game often played on sand by kids or adults. It improves core strength, spine mobility, and quad stability while adding a goofy element of fun through the crab-walk posture!


Hooverball is contested on a volleyball court between two teams who bat a medicine ball back and forth over a high net (men’s net – 2.43m, women’s – 2.24m) until one team drops it or commits a fault.

Created by former US President Herbert Hoover, it combines volleyball and tennis elements. Players pass the heavy 4 kg ball with closed fists or underhand hits. Overhand throws are illegal. Scoring systems vary from volleyball or tennis formats. It develops explosive power and cardiovascular fitness.

Bosu Volleyball

Also called ‘Boho volleyball’, this variant uses a bosu balance trainer (half-sphere balance board) instead of a court. Two teams stand on each side of the bosu net and hit the ball repeatedly without letting it touch the ground.

Bosu volleyball hones balance, stability and core strength by testing players’ ability to receive, set or spike the ball while standing on an unstable surface. Light medicine balls are often used instead of volleyballs to increase the challenge.

Hot Potato

This fun drill trains volleyball reaction time, communication, and evasive reflexes. Players form a circle and rapidly pass the ball randomly around by calling out names, trying not to let the ball touch the floor.

The pace accelerates until someone fumbles, and the ball drops, causing them to be eliminated. The last two players left to compete for the ‘Hot Potato’ championship in a final duel! It’s a great teambuilding and conditioning drill.

Many other local versions of volleyball employ creative adaptations – acrobatic Sepak Takraw style volleyball using feet in Southeast Asia, field hockey volleyball popular in India, and sitting volleyball played on wheelchairs, to name a few. These global variants make volleyball accessible and engaging for diverse cultures and communities.

The Common Thrill of Volleyball

Despite the differences, all volleyball forms ultimately create the same exhilaration – the adrenaline of spiking a winner, the agony of errors, and the joy of an acrobatic save. Volleyball bonds people worldwide through the shared thrill of the rally.

Whether on grass, sand, or special surfaces, with feet, fists, or adaptive techniques, the volleyball net invites us to come together. The numerous local avatars only prove volleyball’s versatility and role in promoting inclusion.

So next time you step on a volleyball court, appreciate how millions around the globe share the same excitement under the umbrella of this wonderful sport. Try innovating your own volleyball variations and spreading the volleyball joy now! Just ensure you get the court dimensions right and use the correct equipment for safety – for example, indoor volleyball on a standard volleyball court size.

Let your imagination run wild and transform volleyball into a fun, competitive, and meaningful experience for your community. That’s the beauty of this adaptable game – anyone can tailor it to their culture and goals while preserving its fast-paced thrill. Volleyball lets us find common ground despite our differences. And that’s what really matters.

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