Could Volleyball be the ideal physical activity for our aging population


Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. As we age though it becomes increasingly more important as it can prevent or delay many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps build muscle strength so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

Five of the key benefits of exercise for seniors and aging adults include:

  1. Prevent Disease – Studies have shown that maintaining regular physical activity can help prevent many common diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Exercise improves overall immune function, which is important for seniors as their immune systems are often compromised.
  2. Improved Mental Health – The mental health benefits of exercise are nearly endless. Exercise produces endorphins (the “feel good” hormone), which act as a stress reliever and leaves you feeling happy and satisfied. In addition, exercise has been linked to improving sleep, which is especially important for older adults who often suffer from insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns.
  3. Decreased Risks of Falls – Older adults are at a higher risk of falls, which can prove to be potentially disastrous for maintaining independence. Exercise improves strength and flexibility, which also help improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls. Seniors take much longer to recover from falls, so anything that helps avoid them in the first place is critical.
  4. Social Engagement – Maintaining strong social ties is important for aging adults to feel a sense of purpose and avoid feelings of loneliness or depression. Volleyball is both social and fun!
  5. Improved Cognitive Function – Regular physical activity and fine-tuned motor skills benefit cognitive function. Countless studies suggest a lower risk of dementia for physically active individuals, regardless of when you begin a routine.

There are 4.2 million Australians aged 65 and over, in WA that represents 11.2% of our population, and these numbers are only expected to grow with increasing life expectancy and lower fertility rates. Volleyball WA is positioning itself to cater for this part of our community through the development of its opportunities for seniors to participate in our sport.

One of the ways we are doing this is adapting the traditional game, offering a version that can be played from a chair. Some of the variations to our traditional game include:

  • Scoring vs not scoring
  • Serving from 1, serving from any backcourt position, anyone serving
  • Overhead throw or an overhead serve to start the rally
  • Players rotating positions after each rally, staying in same position for the whole game, or just moving from front court to backcourt at regular intervals
  • Players only allowed one touch, or multiple touches as long as ball does not come to a complete rest on a player or hit the ground.
  • Each team allowed any number of touches to get ball over the net. More competitively, a team is restricted to three touches.
  • Whether you can rise up off the chair or must remain seated (level of competitiveness of group. More competitive, must stay seated. Less competitive, can rise up off chair)

The benefits of chair volley to physical well-being are; neck flexibility, core strength, hand-eye coordination, and shoulder mobility which can help people maintain their independence. For example, an improved ability to turn your neck to check blind spots for hazards can keep seniors driving.

Volleyball provides social engagement, a sense of belonging, improved concentration, and lots of laughs improving the mental well-being outcomes for a senior.

Volleyball WA has developed a chair volleyball program which can be delivered in aged care homes which includes an accredited coach to run the session, all the court, and game equipment using chairs available at the location. For more information contact Michelle at [email protected] or call 9228 8522.