The weather is still wintery enough in our area that we started daydreaming about what indoor activities we might want to bring back. We have a 12-year old and 10-month old, who’s barely started walking, so there’s not much of a pressing need, but I like to be prepared for when the time comes. And like a lightning bolt, it hit me: balloon volleyball.
This was a favorite of mine when I was in grade school and ate up countless hours of time whether the sun was shining or not. Balloon volleyball was a winner when I was little because it kept us indoors; required physical/athletic effort and strikes a perfect balance of familiarity and newness. The fact that it only resembles volleyball when you’re diving for a last minute dig doesn’t matter; balloon volleyball is its only thing.
However, the low-info/low rules, dynamic nature of balloon volleyball is supposed to be part of its appeal. For example, we had a rule where spiking the balloon down into the ground is only allowed when it’s already above the striking player’s waist; the magic of balloon physics is the whole point of this thing. Some of the more thought out resources linked above suggest setting up a proper court with a “net” and boundaries and whatnot. We’re all for doing sports the way they’re supposed to be done, even when it comes to balloon volleyball. But in case you can’t tell, we’re also very supportive of the social interaction, cooperation, problem-solving and other healthy byproducts that come from not having balloon volleyball so organized and well-conceived. A piece of masking tape on the floor, an ottoman or even a big pillow could serve as a boundary between the two sides if something fancier isn’t available. The act of sorting out what that boundary is going to be, how it’s going to work and other rules invariably end up being the most enjoyable part of balloon volleyball.
Check out the way these folks do balloon volleyball:
The erratic nature of the “ball” you’re using in this version of volleyball is already such a tremendous departure from what we know of most sports, that to try to contain that with all sorts of rules seems counterproductive. The balloon is going to zip and dive and stop and start unlike anything else we see in tennis, soccer, basketball or any other sport. Having original rules and regulations around it just seems to make sense.