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Sport Overview

Volleyball has become faster paced and harder hitting as rule changes have encouraged the development of more aggressive offensive attacks and devastating jump serves.

Six players aside defend their half of an 18 by 9-metre court with a net (2.43 metres high for men and 2.24 metres high for women) separating one team from the other. Some of the most critical parts of the game are played either well above the net, where attackers try to spike the ball to the ground while blockers attempt to stop the ball before it crosses, or right on the floor where lightning-quick defenders keep attack hits from getting to the floor.

Volleyball first became part of the Pan American Games program in 1955 in Mexico City. Canada, however, did not participate until 1959, where the Canadian men placed sixth. The Canadian men’s team’s best result was in 1999 in Winnipeg where they beat Argentina in four sets to clinch the bronze medal.

The women’s best result was at the Pan Am Games in 1995 in Argentina where they also won bronze, beating Argentina in four sets.


In 1895, William Morgan, a YMCA instructor in Massachusetts, developed a game that incorporated elements of basketball, tennis, baseball and handball but demanded less physical contact than basketball for a class of businessmen. Originally called mintonette, Morgan added a net — standing 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 metres) — to his newly created game. During a demonstration of the game, it was noted that the players were volleying the ball back and forth; hence the term “volleyball.” The sport has grown quickly since that time and was first contested at the 1955 Pan Am Games.

How it works

With power and quick reactions, two teams of six square off on an indoor court measuring 18 metres by 9 metres (59.1 feet by 29.5 feet). In the middle of the court is a net measuring 2.43 metres (8 feet) high for men and 2.24 metres (7.4 feet) high for women. The objective of the game is to land the ball in the opposing team’s half of the court. The rally begins with a serve from the back of the court, over the net and into the receiving team’s court; the receiving team must not allow the ball to touch the ground, and they may touch the ball as many as three times before it must be hit back over the net to the other team’s side.

Points are awarded to the team that wins the rally.


When a player blocks an opposing player by jumping at the net with arms in the air.

A defensive shot where a player places both arms together when hitting the ball. Often used as a result of a spike from the opposing team.

A defensive player who plays in the back row and can be substituted for any other player. They may wear a different colour uniform and may not make an attack.

To smash the ball into the opponent’s court using an overhead motion.

Additional Information

Additional Information