We are bringing you complete and comprehensive information about the game of Mini Volleyball in the world, which should provide answers to all your questions regarding Mini Volleyball. The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) recognized Mini Volleyball in 1971.

1. Volleyball in short
2. Mini Volleyball – a short history
3. History of Mini Volleyball in the European countries
4. Differences between Volleyball and Mini Volleyball
5. Rules of Mini Volleyball
6. Levels of Mini Volleyball
7. Who can play Mini Volleyball?
8. Mini Volleyball in schools
9. How to teach Mini Volleyball
10. Mini Volleyball tournaments in the world
11. Conclusion

1. Volleyball in short

Volleyball is a team game involving two sides  of 6 players each, whose aim is to hit the ball over a net and keep it in the air for as long as possible. There are rules to keep the game competitive and enjoyable – many of which we will discuss as we proceed. Volleyball can be played with any part of the body but a team cannot register more than three strokes of the ball before it crosses the net again.

2. Mini Volleyball – a short history

The history of Mini Volleyball is closely connected with Volleyball. Probably, it developed quite spontaneously but we are only left to guess as for where and when it actually first appeared.

The manual for coaches says that Mini Volleyball appeared in the early sixtieth of the 20th century. Other sources state that the idea of Mini Volleyball comes from East Germany and dates back to 1961, but even before that there were different forms and methods enabling small children to play Volleyball in many countries.

But the birthplace of Mini Volleyball is actually thought to be the Japanese town of Taiki, where Mini Volleyball was played as an independent sport for the first time. At the same time, the father of the fundamentals of Mini-Volleyball is thought to be Hiroshi Toyoda. The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) recognized Mini Volleyball in 1971, when the subcommission for Mini Volleyball was established within the FIVB coaching committee. The basic rules were set a year later. In 1975 the world held the first international Mini Volleyball conference in Sweden and 19 different countries were in attendance.

The FIVB recognizes Mini Volleyball as a skilled discipline and it encourages its continuous play. The game is basically volleyball for children aged 9-10 and can accommodate those aged 12-13 in the maximum cases. The rules are set by each national federation with the aim to enable matches between players of different clubs or schools.
(source FIVB)

3. History of Mini Volleyball in the European countries

Germany
In Germany Mini Volleyball is first played by children at the end of the first stage and beginning of the second stage of the basic school. At the first stage the game has different versions but is still very simple. Mostly they start with 1 – 1 form and continue up to the final form of 3 – 3. Methodology of the game is described in detail from the first simple manipulation with the ball up to more difficult game strategy and tactic. In the fifth and sixth class children learn the prescribed technique whilst they start with their fingers (overhead both-hands strike), continue with the dig (underarm both-hands strike) and subsequently with the overhead pass (overhead one-hand strike). School tournaments are organized as well.

There are only minor differences in Germany in comparison to our rules in the Czech Republic. One difference is the size of the court, they have it wider and shorter than our court, and another difference is the height of the net, which is higher, and they play up to 25 points in two sets. If they end up in a tie, the third set up to 15 points is played. In the Czech Republic the playing time is individual depending on the colour category.

Czech Republic
Mini Volleyball in the Czech Republic has been played since 1996 and international success was reached when the team of mini girl-players of the volleyball club TJ Svitavy, trained by Mgr. Marcela Sezemska, played in May 2004 at the European festival of Mini Volleyball in Vienna and out of 24 teams from 10 countries and two world-parts they won the third position. The Czech internet mentions Mini Volleyball in articles published in 2008 on pages of the volleyball club TJ Svitavy, and also you can find articles by Ivan Pelikan who has been writing about Mini Volleybal since 2009. In 2010 the Czech Volleyball Association  gave birth to the project Mini Volleyball in colours.

Austria
There is a school project in Austria, called „Das Baggerdu Volksschulprojekt“, which includes up to 150 schools with 3000 children. The team is formed by two players. The tournament is then played in the form of 2 – 2. The International Mini Volleyball Tournament takes place every year in Vienna with teams not only from the neighbouring countries but also from more distant places. For example, teams from Germany, France, Guatemala, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic took part in the tournament. This international tournament is proudly titled as the greatest and favourite Mini Volleyball tournament for children in the Central Europe.

The game consists of maximum two winning sets up to 25 points. In case of the draw the third set up to 15 points is played. Each team has to provide one umpire and enough players („Internationales Mini Volleyball Turnier in Wien“ n.d.).

Slovakia
The Slovak Volleyball Federation supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Research and by the Sport of the Slovak Republic organizes every year a Mini Volleyball project at basic schools, called „COOL VOLLEY“. This project is also supported by the International Volleyball Federation FIVB  and thanks to it the game of volleyball is more accessible for children (aged 10–12 years). The aim of the project is to make this sport popular for young children and to establish the habit of regular exercise and healthy life style for children.

Poland
In Poland the rules for Mini Volleyball are the same as in the Slovakia, where the categories are strictly defined for girls and boys separately. The court is longer than in the Czech Republic. The game lasts only one set up to 25 points with the difference of two points. Number of player substitution is limited too. The substitutes can substitute only once in a set. The rules say that the server is already at the back and cannot send the ball over the net and cannot block at the net.

4. Differences between Volleyball and Mini Volleyball

The rules of the game are quite flexible and can be adapted to match the skill level of the children involved in the game which is usually rudimentary. Therefore, each national association establishes necessary rules to ensure that the competition remains fair for both competing sides.

In fact, the aim of creating the game is to make volleyball more accessible and to hone the skills of children from a young age. Since expecting them to learn with a standard net is both unrealistic and impossible, this game is one of the developmental tools employed by the FIVB to continually generate fresh generations of Volleyball champs.

Having explained that Mini Volleyball is an offshoot of volleyball aimed at introducing the game to kids, one would expect that there would be some differences in the game to enable kids play it comfortably. These differences go into the deepest recesses of the fabric of the game and are aimed at scaling the game down from adult size to children size.

These differences include:

  • Size and type of the ball– the size of a standard volleyball is of course, considerably larger than that used in playing Mini Volleyball. When compared side-by-side, it is observed that one is a scaled down version of the other – or vice versa. The ball used for Mini Volleyball is also observed to be different in feel to its larger sibling. This is because they are specially designed to be gentler on younger hands and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Height of the net– Mini Volleyball is for children and young adults which mean that the net has to be designed with consideration for their heights. A standard volleyball net stands at 243 cm for men and 224 cm for women but the net for Mini Volleyball is 190-200 cm for both sexes (FIVB).
  • Number of players– the number of players on a volleyball team is always 6 for a standard set but when it is a mini-volleyball game, the number varies between 2 and 6. FIVB manuals have suggested from studies that children get 100% more chance of touching the ball on a 4-man team than they do on a 6-man team. Playing with less than 4 is also noticed to be much more exhausting on the kids than other permutations. Therefore, it is almost always played with 4 players arranged 2 in front and 2 behind.
  • Rules– the rules of Mini Volleyball are quite a bit different from what obtains in standard volleyball. The touch rule for example has it that volleyball players on a team cannot make more than three touches while for the mini game, three passes is compulsory. However, they are all based on almost the same premise and scoring is just about done the same way,

On the overall, it is worthy of note that the purpose of Mini Volleyball is to prepare youngsters for the game of volleyball, therefore the rules and everything else about it are geared towards that preparation.

5. Rules of Mini Volleyball

It can be observed that Mini Volleyball is played with a number of informal rules. This is however a necessary move because of the purpose the game aims to achieve. The rules we shall discuss here are divided into categories, namely:

a) Contact with the ball
b) Court size
c) Team composition and size
d) Net height
e) Duration of play
f) Player rotation and substitution
g) Point scoring

All of these combine together in different ways to create a unique playing experience every time. This assertion will be further explained as we proceed.

a) Contact with the ball
In volleyball 101, a player is not allowed to take more than one consecutive touch, and the team, not more than 3 before sending the ball over to the opponents half of the court. However, in Mini Volleyball, a team doesn’t have to make three compulsory touches the second of which may be caught and tossed. The rules as to whether a player can take multiple touches before crosses the court varies from competition to competition too with some not allowing multiple touches while others allow a player to have the first and third touch at some point in the competition.

If looked at more intrinsically, it can be argued that while players are made to send the ball out in attack while playing standard volleyball with its set of rules, Mini Volleyball seeks to help players learn to keep the ball and to foster better participation. With the number of compulsory touches, it becomes easier for players to get more involved in the game and reduce the incidence of standing around.

PE teachers reported that this catching and tossing of the second ball brings down the learning curve to allow newbies navigate playing the game even more easily.

The catch and release of the second contact also helps to correct the ball’s trajectory as well as (if not more importantly), help kid players work on tactics both defensively and offensively together. Thereby ensuring that players are not just learning to volley the ball, but also gaining knowledge on how to involve tactics in their overall game.

b) Court size
The size of a Mini Volleyball court is variable and does not exactly need to have defined values. The game’s prescribed court size is such that it can be derived from other school or gym facilities.

A Mini Volleyball court size (4.5 to 6 m in width, 9 to 12 m in length) is roughly the same size of a doubles badminton court. By having such a rule as this, the program has answered the question of accessibility. What this means is that huge investments in the name of gymnasium markings or erection of new facilities can be avoided.

On the game play side, a small court allows for more rallies during the game and makes it even more probable that all players will get a piece of it. Defence is easier because of the lesser ground to cover and as such, play is more interesting.

Since PE teachers are hoping to get pupils’ participation levels to increase, a court size such as this is best. It can also be increased or decreased as necessary to cater for other variables like older players, more or less number of players on the court, etc.

When the players of Mini Volleyball are outgrowing this scaled-down game, the court size should be gradually widened to accommodate them more. A sudden increase will pose difficulty to them, but doing it gradually blurs the learning curve and helps them to get better faster.

c) Team composition and size
The FIVB rules book does not stipulate a team composition or size, it rather suggests a combination and selection size that has been tried and tested and found to engender more interesting game play and is good for the players’ development in playing the game of volleyball.

The team size can range from two players minimum, to a maximum number of six, team combination has no caveats either as long as all players are in the recommended age grade for playing Mini Volleyball.

The ideal number as suggested in the guide book is four players, combined in a mixed format, i.e. boys and girls playing on the same team. Since boys and girls develop much the same way up to the age of 12 and schools at that stage, usually like to organize sporting activities in a joint format, playing them together is necessary to keep the coach’s attention in one place.

Doing things this way fosters better communication and team work, is less exhaustive on the individual players and maximizes each one’s potential by getting them more involved than they’d be in a 6 man set-up.

Playing with less than 4 players leaves spaces in the game and is bad for rallies, as well  as being utterly exhaustive. More than 4 players on the court often makes for a crowded scene (6 player games especially), children end up running into each other, disrupting the flow of the game continually and defeating the purpose of playing Mini-Volleyball.

Playing 4 – a side, studies have shown, will improve player interaction with the ball up to 100% more than the value when it is a 6 – a side game.

d) Net height
While the height of the net for the grownups vary by a matter of inches with the men’s net standing at 8ft (2.44 m) and the women’s own at 7.4ft (2.3 m); the net for Mini Volleyball is considerably shorter around two meters and is the same height for all players. Due to the consideration of children’s heights, and the combination play, a one-size-fits-all lower net model like this is the best one.

When players are getting too tall for this net, it becomes obvious that they have outgrown the mini version of the game and are ready for progression to the main game.

The net may be lowered a few inches to let children learn more easily, but this is not practiced very often.

e) Duration of play
Just as it entails in the main game, the duration of Mini Volleyball is based most times on points scored. It is played in sets, with each set reaching a maximum of 15 or 25 games depending on the age of the players or other factors the organizers consider being important. Younger children are usually made to play to 15 while older ones head for 25.

However, some tournament organizers time their matches and a winner must emerge either by reaching the points threshold or declaring the leading team the winners at the end of regulation time.

Other times, a point differential system is employed – usually 10 points. In such a case no team is allowed to be ahead of the other by 10 points. If this happens the game is called off and declared a victory in favour of the leading team.

Just like in the game of volleyball, to win, a team must be ahead by at least, two points – otherwise, there will be deuces for game point ties until the tie is broken and a winner emerges.

f) Player rotation and substitution
Each team is usually expected to be positioned within the confines of its own court as at the moment the server hits the ball. The front row players are the attacking players with the setter on the front-right side and the primary hitter positioned on the front-left side. The players in the back row are passers. When the ball is already in play after a serve, the players may move around to affect the play, but they may not exchange positions with another player, that only happens with rotation.

Rotation is a common feature of all forms of volleyball games and the players in Mini Volleyball rotate in a clockwise direction facing the net. The rotation also changes the server every time too, but this only has to happen when the team receives a point and the team rotates one position every time.

The substitution rules vary from competition to competition, and while some allow substitutes to come on freely, most competitions only allow for substitutes in extreme cases only – where a player is injured and unable to continue or when a player is sent off.

g) Point scoring
A team scores rally points when they play the ball into the opponents’ court without it being legally returned. Apart from receiving a point, the team also gets the ball to serve out. Scoring points from the serve is possible but a team is not allowed to score more than 3 points from serves, when a team has scored his 3 points, the serve is turned over to the other team to begin the game.

In some forms of Mini Volleyball a player is allowed a do-over of his service should he fail to complete it successfully. But players get that chance only once per serve.

There are a number of other rules, for example, the one regarding the making of Mini Volleyballs, with regulations ensuring that games must be played with Volley Lite a smaller version of a standard ball, a training ball in all respects, more suitable for children.

Other rules that may be observed are the limited time-outs rule as well as participation requirements. In the participation clause, many competitions require a number of players must be available for every team – usually 4 players. When a team therefore has less than this number, they are loaned a player from another team to complete the numbers.

If a player does show up without his/her teammates, the team is deemed to have defaulted and such a player is drafted into another team to continue to participate in the competition.

6. Levels of Mini Volleyball

There are different levels in Mini Volleyball. The table below shows different technical qualification of Mini Volleyball players depending on their age. This division is only relative. It is always necessary to take into account the particular level of a player’s or a group of players’ skills. The coach (trainer) should always be able to respond flexibly to the game level he offers to the players. He can adjust the level by changing the game parameters.

AGE GAME MODE GAME TECHNIQUE SERVE (RECOMMENDED) GAME LEVEL
6-8 1-1, 2-2 catching/throwing thrown/underhand throwing
8-9 1-1, 2-2 catching/setting after their own throw thrown/underhand pausing
9-10 1-1, 2-2 setting after the ball bounces off the ground /setting/attack hit without jumping underhand/overhand bouncing and setting
10-12 3-3, 4-4 allowed all according to the rules of six-on-six volleyball underhand/overhand unrestricted

 

7. Who can play Mini Volleyball?

Although the game is a developmental stage for prospective players of Volleyball, Mini Volleyball is not just that, it is a fun game on its own. Volleyball players can use it as a training regime in preparation for games, to highlight tactical areas of the game or to help an injured player regain their fitness gradually.

The target ages range between under 6 to 12 year old children. The FIVB recognizes this game as a means of developing the interest of kids, their parents and new fans in the game of volleyball by introducing the age-grade iteration.

Many modern-day volleyball professionals gained their affection for the sport from playing the mini version as kids. For up to 80 years after it was invented, volleyball was restricted to older players who picked up the game at a later stage in life.

It was however thought that getting the game to be played from a young age will help make even better players in future, the idea was sown and in 1971, Mini Volleyball was born.

All of the developments and rules changing around the game since then have gone into making it a learning curve to help children grow into successful volleyball players.

Its impact has gone beyond just getting more kids to volley a ball, it has increased the attention being paid to the sport as a whole with parents showing more interest in the game because their kids are involved in it. Such awareness has generated more revenue for the sport and has seen more investment in the Mini game – a very welcome cycle by anyone’s standards.

To answer the question of who can play Mini Volleyball, it simply is for any sports – inclined child aged 6-12. It may also be played by kids a little over that age, but they are the focus group.

The goal is always emphasized by all concerned not to be winning at all costs, but to engender the spirit of teamwork, sportsmanship and help them develop physically.

The coaches therefore, have the job of deciding what suits particular kids placed in their care, and ultimately, who plays Mini-Volleyball

8. Mini Volleyball in schools

With school being the cradle of most sporting achievements, children usually begin to hone any future sporting success from there, therefore it is probably the best stage to begin infusing in them these skills. In many of 217 countries of the world with volleyball federations the authorities invest in Mini Volleyball especially at school level for growing children.

One of those at the forefront of this is Japan, where Mini Volleyball is not just being used to groom future Olympians, but it is also used by the country to help the all-round development of children. The importance of sports cannot be over emphasized and Mini Volleyball is one of those specially scaled to the needs of young and growing children.

Playing Mini Volleyball in schools then is a joint effort between the coaches, school administrators and the men and women in charge of sporting laws in a particular country. The impact of the Volleyball federation is of most paramount importance here as they have the job of making Mini Volleyball a sport that attracts children by helping to provide – not just the needed equipment, but the enabling environment in terms of regular competitions, incentives to performing schools and players (no based on just victories) and carving a path for furtherance of interest in volleyball after the mini days are over.

Playing of Mini Volleyball in many school districts in some countries is done in a league format, where teams travel to visit each other and play (friendly) matches. The rules are so designed that the competition is more about participation, teamwork, development and collective achievement than anything else. Premium is placed on collective goals than on individual pursuits and that differentiates it from most other sporting endeavours.

Equipment for playing the game in schools is generally inexpensive since the game can be organized by converting facilities and items from other sports to Mini Volleyball usage. Being hankered by lack of equipment is a problem that faces sporting programs in many schools, Mini Volleyball will not require too many changes to play and will fit into many schools’ budget provisions.

9. How to teach Mini Volleyball

The coaches who are charged with delivering the knowledge of this sport must first of all have unfettered knowledge of the sport – Volleyball in this case, and be assured of what progress he/she wants the athletes to achieve and how to go about it. Most importantly, the coaches should care the most about their trainees’ welfare during and after the game(s).

Here are some points for coaches to hold on to in order to help players learn to play the game of MiniVolleyball better:

  • The coach owes every child the duty of understanding by attempting to talk to them, their families and friends where possible. This gives a context to what behavioural traits such children may exhibit and helps the coach to prepare to handle such children better.

Children have different personalities, even when they are from the same homes, therefore the mistake of generalization will greatly hurt any coach who attempts it. Each child should be treated specially, and observations, meetings, etc. should never be generalized.

  • Theoretical knowledge of volleyball should be given to kids before they take to the courts to learn or play Mini Volleyball. Teaching them beforehand means that they are translating knowledge into action which is easier than trying to act and understand at the same time.

Making kids do both at once is detrimental because it represents flooding their young heads with information of different types at the same time. Doing so will easily make them lose interest in the sport and try to quit.

  • In order to maintain the children’s interest in Mini Volleyball, the right conditions must be maintained at all times devoid of distractions and unnecessary pressure. Mental stress and pressure are detrimental to the development of children’s sporting skills and if they are allowed to foster, will negate all efforts being made.

Part of maintaining right conditions is ensuring that praise is used when players earn it. Withholding accolades is an emotional stressor and is bad for anyone – not just kids. When players do well, they should be praised and when they haven’t tried enough, should be encouraged to put in more effort.

It also includes working to ensure they have the right equipments like uniforms, balls and the likes without pushing too much of the cost onto them.

  • To improve performance, players should have positions of responsibility within their teams. They also learn the importance of team building and team work in this process and become better individuals as a result.

When they know that their actions do not just bring consequences to themselves alone, players are more likely to behave better than normal, and will avoid repeating mistakes that have rubbed off wrong on their teammates in the past.

  • Elements of several other sports should be infused into the training regime to engender flexibility, agility, strength and all round development. Inculcating such elements as these also keeps the children interested in what is being done especially since some of it will actually highlight their strengths at some point in time.

Running, gymnastics, jumping, and more can be added to the training activities and some training days can be dedicated exclusively to one or more of these activities to promote interest from players.

  • Children should have sufficient warm up exercises and preparatory regimes before delving into the game. The importance of warm up is known to every coach, and it remains the same here – to prevent injuries. In the same spirit of preventing injuries, weight training is a no-no for children at this age since it actually increases their chances of suffering injuries or causes them outright. The key here is to remember that they are children. Therefore, warm up exercises that helps their body get ready for the exertion at hand and which prepares their minds too is very welcome. A good coach usually knows those activities which his/her players favour to wake them up for game time. Training sessions should be planned properly to go from easy to hard, light to heavy.
  • In setting goals and targets, coaches should always remember to keep them realistic, specific and challenging as well as making sure goals are measurable. Good coaches earn their badges by their ability to strike this delicate balance for their players. Failure to challenge a child’s mind will se them lose interest super quick. Children at this age are most easily disinterested in activities they get involved in and the coach has a big role to play in keeping them interested. Setting unrealistic goals mired in vagueness is just unnecessarily pushing kids and making them find it hard to understand what they’re being imbued with. Children psychologists suggest that the best way to get to children is to keep things as simple as can be. Their young minds, as sharp as it is, cannot process such ambiguities.
  • Whoever is saddled with a responsibility as huge as honing the skills of children whether in Mini Volleyball or any other discipline must understand that he/she will not just be a coach or mentor, but sometimes, a shoulder to cry on, a parental figure and much more. It also is interesting to note that such a person must know how to set aside personal feelings at times and concentrate on what is best for the team as a whole at all times.

The meaning of this is that coaches will have favourites, but should not let it reflect too often in their interaction with the members of the team. Such a situation will create a very unhealthy dynamic within the team and can be disastrous on results going forward.

  • Individual players may need special training sessions to keep up with the rest of the team. Coaches should always be willing to give this extra show of care. By so doing, the coach is not only helping one of his/her player get better at the game, but they are also teaching a valuable lessons to the kid(s) involved as well as sowing a seed in them that they will gladly repay with the notch performances when the time comes.

Teaching Mini Volleyball is not a task for just any coach, but those who have proven themselves to be adept at working with children, or at least has the interest of kids at heart. This is so because this game has never been, and will never be about results, but is about growing something in the kids that they will never do away with.

Learning the game requires the patience to learn and the athleticism and focus to go with it. It also helps to have a support structure that believes in and supports the player sufficiently. From the coach, the parents, down to teachers and siblings, everyone has a role to play in the process of learning and perfecting the art of Mini Volleyball.

10. Mini Volleyball tournaments in the world

There are a number of Mini Volleyball tournaments organized world – over by different national federations as well as the international Volleyball Federation. The international federation’s competitions usually involve representatives of countries or a combination of different non-national teams converging on a specific location for a few days of mini volleyballing. The aim of these competitions is usually to introduce the players to others from different settings and boost interaction among them.

Many of them usually take place alongside mainstream volleyball competitions. An example is the Mini Beach-Volleyball tournament which takes place alongside the Montreux Volley Masters – the 25th edition of which held in 2014. This particular competition combines Mini-Volleyball and Beach Volleyball in one scintillating package for the ultimate experience. Hundreds of teams usually compete here.

In the US, some school districts have inter-school competitions played in a league format. This particular style is usually so not-winning-oriented that players can in some cases turn out in the colours of opposing teams.

Japanese schools also have competitions of the sort to improve participation in volleyball in the country. It has a healthy investment in the game and the rewards are shown in its national teams’ performances.

To find a competition in your vicinity, do well to contact the National Volleyball Federation of your country of residence. They usually register all ongoing competitions. They are also always willing to see new ones started.

11. Conclusion

Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world, played in over 200 countries on our planet. It is no easy feat that it is one of the major Olympic disciplines. Mini Volleyball is how kids get into the groove from a young age. It is a stepping stone for future sports stars (not just volleyball players) because the skills gained from it are not just directed at one sport alone – they aren’t even directed at sports alone. Rather, they help to prepare players for a future within or outside sports. This is one of the great contributions of the International Volleyball Federation to the development of children.

Thanks to Gaudeo company for translation of this article.