A team game between two teams of six players, based upon keeping the ball in the air and aiming to send the ball over the opposing team's net so that it strikes the floor on the opponent's side of the court, or to provoke the opposing side to strike the ball out of the boundaries of the court. Volleyball became an Olympic event for men and women at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where the host nation provided the gold medal-winning team in the women's event, and the bronze medallists in the men's event, the Soviet Union triumphing in the men's event, and taking the silver medal in the women's event. Wallechinsky (The Complete Book of the Olympics, 1996) describes the draconian method of the coach of the Japanese women's team, Hirofumi Daimatsu. Ten of the twelve members of his squad were drawn from a spinning mill near Osaka, where he was a departmental manager. He enforced a brutal regime, the players training and playing for a minimum of six hours a day every day of the week throughout the year, and the Japanese team was never remotely challenged. At two successive Olympics after Tokyo, the Soviet Union secured the gold medal, Japan reclaiming it in 1976. Other outstanding teams thereafter, in the women's event, emerged from China and Cuba. The latter won the Olympic title three times in succession from 1992 to 2000, though finishing in bronze position behind Russia and champions China in 2004. These achievements in women's volleyball confirm the commitment of communist and former communist states to the cultivation of high-level and physically powerful sport performance in women's sports. Men's champions have included Brazil, the Netherlands, the USA, and Yugoslavia as well as the Soviet Union. The accessibility of the sport, and its familiarity to players from all levels, have spawned the associated sport of beach volleyball.
Subjects: Medicine and Health — Sport and Leisure.