Lausanne, Switzerland, March 15, 2019 – “Snow volleyball is a young and up-and-coming discipline. It is expected to experience a steady, continuous growth in the years to come, which could ultimately lead to its inclusion in the programme of the Winter Olympic Games, thereby following a path similar to what happened to beach volleyball in the 1990s,” says the first paragraph of the first edition of Snow Volleyball - Rules of the Game for 2018-2020.
This, in fact, is the first official set of snow volleyball rules. Until the current season the rules of beach volleyball were applied with some minor corrections valid only for the new winter discipline. The major change introduced with the season’s first snow volleyball tournaments in December 2018 was that the new sport is now played in a revolutionary three-a-side format, which completely turns it into a unique discipline with its rightful place within the family of team sports.
Action from the first official international three-a-side snow volleyball tournament in Moscow in December 2018
Player substitutions during a snow volleyball match are permitted and that is another important change in comparison to the winter discipline’s sand cousin. With up to four athletes on a squad’s roster, a maximum of two substitutions per team are allowed in each set. A starting player who has already been replaced may come back into play, not necessarily substituting for the same teammate who took their position.
Exceptional substitutions are permitted, when a volleyballer cannot continue due to injury or illness and a regular substitution is not possible. In that case, if an exceptional substitution is not possible either, the player is given a three-minute recovery time, but not more than once in the match.
Wagrain-Kleinarl centre court on top of the Austrian Alps
A snow volleyball playing court is a rectangle measuring 16 x 8 m covered with snow that should be at least 30 cm deep. The net height is set at 2.43 m for men and 2.24 m for women.
Each set is won by the team which first scores 15 points with a minimum lead of two points, and each match is played in a best-of-three format. The teams switch sides after every five rallies.
During a snow volleyball rally, a team has three hits for returning the ball to the opponents’ side of the court, but a block touch is not counted towards this limit.
Snow volleyballers battle over the net in the 2018 European Championship women’s final
With the exception of the serving order, there are no determined positions on the court, so the players are free to position themselves within the boundaries of their half.
A snow volleyballer’s equipment includes shoes with a good grip on snow. While special snow volleyball shoe models have yet to be designed, football boots are widely used by the professional players. Wearing gloves, hats and thermal clothes is allowed. Athletes may wear glasses or lenses and even a watch at their own risk.
The team members must wear uniforms that are consistent in style, length and colour. They are also encouraged to wear accessories reflecting the colours of the participating countries to help portray a country-vs-country image in official international competitions.
Exactly ten years after the first professional snow volleyball event was held in March 2009 in Wagrain-Kleinarl and one year after the first CEV Snow Volleyball European Championship took place at the same venue, the Austrian Alpine winter resort is set to continue writing the history of this young and spectacular sport as the first stop on the inaugural FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour takes place from March 28 through 31, 2019. The second tournament will be organized in Italy the following week. The third one announced so far is scheduled for August in Argentina.
Spectacular snow volleyball action in the Austrian Alps near Wagrain-Kleinarl
The World Tour events will feature three days of 12-team main draw action for each gender, preceded by one-day qualifications. The 12 squads will be split into four pools of three, with all teams advancing to the first or the second rounds of the single elimination phase leading up to the semifinals and the medal matches.
The FIVB and CEV have also put together a Snow Volleyball World Ranking to be used for seeding at future snow volleyball tournaments. Points towards this ranking may be collected not only at World Tour events, but also at various homologated continental, zonal and national competitions.