Playing Volleyball In The Snow

So far, whenever the name of the volleyball appeared, one could think of either an indoor wooden court or a beach setting. But the game has another incarnation that was not very popular in the entire world but is gaining popularity now, called snow volleyball. It is considered the young snow version of beach volleyball, as the feel of players getting their feet sunk a bit into the sand is similar to snow. Also, the rules of snow volleyball are very much the same as beach volleyball. It got officially introduced to the world as an exhibition sport in the 2018 Winter Olympics and got the attention of many countries, which have now adopted this version as a sports activity.

Snow volleyball debuted as an actual sport in Austria and is regulated by FIVB. Generally, it is one of the favorite snow activities in countries with good snowfall and is often enjoyed by people following the simple rules created by themselves. Now that it has become an official sport, it would be a good idea to get equipped with the sport’s official rules, court dimensions, costumes, and scoring system, which is the objective of this article. So, let’s get started with the playing environment, and by the end of this article, you will be equipped with the necessary knowledge required for snow volleyball.

Why is snow volleyball getting popular?

With the introduction of this new variety of volleyball, players can now enjoy this sport throughout the year. Whether summer, winter, or autumn, they have a type to enjoy every season. The history of volleyball is pretty interesting. With its introduction in Olympic sports in 1964 as an indoor form and later the addition of beach volleyball in 1996, then snow volleyball in 2011, the sport has a fan base of millions worldwide. The idea of snow volleyball is exciting for volleyball fans belonging to cold countries and is becoming more and more popular with time.

One of the reasons for its popularity is that introduction of snow volleyball has provided people with adventurous winter activities. This idea thus has attracted more and more towards it, making volleyball one of the top five sports played in the world. The concept of watching teams compete in snow-covered playgrounds is thrilling in itself. Another reason is solely based on the snow. As most of the world’s population resides near trophic regions, freezing areas of the world are their favorite vacation destinations. This way, snow sporting activities, including snow volleyball, are a factor that attracts tourists and thus contribute to the popularity of this sport.

Differences between the three varieties of volleyball

The objective of all kinds of volleyball is the same for players to get points by getting the ball ground in the opponent team’s court and preventing them from achieving the same goal. But there are a few differences in terms of playing rules, scoring system, and the playing environment of these three. Snowball is considered an official variation of beach volleyball, but it differs from it. Even if the rules are similar, it does not make all these identical. Mentioned below are some of the basis of differences.

The playing surface

The playing surface is the primary difference between indoor, beach, and snow volleyball. The surface of the indoor court is made up of wood that supports the easy movement of players around the court. As the area is enclosed, it is not affected by environmental changes and other elements. On the other hand, the beach and snow volleyball surfaces get affected by the weather. Beach volleyball is played on a standard depth of sand and will thus be affected by rain and heat waves. Similarly, snow volleyball is played on a snow court. The weather for this should be cold enough to maintain the snow texture.

The block rules

In snow volleyball, block rules are similar to indoor volleyball, i.e., the block is not considered a player touching the ball; thus, even the blocker can touch the ball after the block. On the other hand, in beach volleyball, the block is considered as one touch out of three available to a team at one time to send the ball to the opposite court.

Playing area and ball specification

The playing area of snow volleyball refers to the court and free zone, which must be rectangular and symmetrical, i.e., having equal spaces on both sides of the net and around it. The court should measure 16 × 8 m, surrounded by a minimum of 3 m wide free zone on all sides. Apart from these, there is a free playing area above the playing space which should be a minimum of 7m in height from the playing surface. The playing surface, composed of snow in snow volleyball, is flat and free from obstacles. Also, the snow on the playing surface must be at least 30m deep.

The playing area also involves all the lines of the court, which should be ribbons made up of resistant, soft, and flexible material, 5 cm wide, contrasting with the snow’s white color. The playing area of the court is identified by the boundary lines involving two sidelines and two end lines. The zones and areas in snow volleyball include only the playing court, service zone (8m wide behind the end line and extends to the edge of the free zone), and free zone.

The net and posts

The net is placed vertically in the middle of the court, with the top at the height of 2.24m for women’s matches and 2.43 for men’s matches. The net height also varies based on age groups of players, i.e., younger players of 12 years and under have lower net heights for both male and female categories. The structure of the net is 8.0 – 8.5 m long and 1 m wide which is made up of a square mesh of dimensions 10 cm. The top and bottom of the net have two 7-10 cm wide bands of dark blue or bright colors. The net structure also involves side bands, antennae, and bands.

The sidebands are colored bands of width 5 cm and length 1 m placed above the sidelines and can be used for advertising. At the outer edge of sidebands, antennas are attached to opposite sides of the net that laterally delimit the crossing space. Each antenna is a flexible rod of 1.80 m in length and a diameter of 10 mm. Outside each sideline, at a distance of 0.70 – 1.00 m, the posts are placed to support the net. These are padded and smooth, 2.55 m in height, can be adjusted, and fixed to the ground without wires.

Structure of balls

As per the standards, the ball used in snow volleyball will be spherical, made of leather, synthetic leather, or similar flexible material, and should be non-moisture absorbent. Weight is allowed between 260 and 280 g, a circumference between 66 and 68 cm, and an inside pressure of 171 to 221 hPa. Snow volleyball also has a four-ball system which states that for FIVB, four balls shall be used in the world and official competitions, and in that case, two ball retrievers are stationed one at each corner of the free zone.

Equipment and accessories required

There are no specific rules regarding the players’ outfits. Still, players’ equipment in snow volleyball includes good gripping shoes, close-fitting t-shirts, suitable thermal wear identical in color to the outerwear, long tight pants, gloves, and head coverings. The players generally wear soccer shoes as they provide a good grip on the snow, and an outfit made of waterproof clothing is also preferred. The basic rules around the uniform direct teams to have the same color and style. The jersey numbers must be from 1 to 4, placed on the chest and back with a contrasting color, and have a height of 10 cm and a width of 1.5 cm.

If both teams arrive dressed in the same color jerseys, there are provisions for the change in equipment. In such a case, a toss will be conducted to decide the team that will have to change the jersey. Players are allowed by the referee to alter wet jackets and shoes between sets following the tournament regulations.

Gameplay and scoring in snow volleyball

The playing style of snow volleyball is similar to beach volleyball. The game begins with a toss to decide which team will serve and which will receive. The toss results also determine the order of starting and court sides given to the teams. The serving team then passes the ball over the net, and the opposite team is expected to return it with three or fewer hits by different team players. Teams swap sides every 5 points played. Points are earned by the team every time the ball is landed in the court of the opposite team. The game involves two sets won by the team that scores 15 points with a minimum 2 points lead, and the match is won by the team that wins two sets, and in case of a tie, a third set is played to decide the winner.

Final thoughts

As can be understood that snow volleyball is similar to indoor and beach volleyball in some aspects; it is different at the same time. This sport has not yet been officially accepted in the Olympic games, but the federations are making efforts to generate awareness among volleyball fans worldwide. Though the official gameplay and terminologies make it a vast subject, mentioned above are the things that might be necessary to introduce someone new to this game. Snow volleyball is a thrilling activity for someone looking for an adventurous sport. So, this game might be for you if you are looking for something unique and exciting.