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Having recently installed a volleyball net in our backyard (one which remains standing, I might add – quite the engineering feat for yours truly), I have been impressed with its utilization and recreational value. Both of my daughters enjoy hosting a few close friends or a larger group with the volleyball game serving as the featured attraction – surpassing the opportunity to injure oneself on the still-popular trampoline. Karen and I love to be included and compete as well. I even have my neighbor (observing the fun and the hooting and hollering) asking to be called over when we need someone to balance out odd numbers.

Here are my Top Ten Reasons why volleyball is the ideal backyard sport:

10. You play the game with very limited equipment – just need a net and a ball. String a line between two trees and you are in business. No special shoes or sports attire are required – come as you are (although barefoot doesn’t work so well in our backyard).

9. The scoring system can confuse some people initially – Why do I only get points when it is my team’s serve?? But people catch on quickly – or maybe you need to upgrade your circle of friends. We don’t even need to remember the score (another potential area of argument) – since our net came with a nice clip-on system for tallying each point.

8. The rules are very basic – if you can count to three (number of touches allowed) and avoid running into the net you don’t need much instruction. (This can be frustrating for the legalists in the crowd who are accustomed to impressing others with their detailed knowledge of the finer points of games.)

7. Provides excellent tutoring opportunities as you demonstrate your serving technique for those who are struggling with this challenging skill. Nobody likes to be the one that keeps serving it into the net and forfeiting your team’s chance to score points. You can experiment with both the under-handed and over-handed options.

6. The game encourages “over-politeness” – with players repeatedly calling out “I’m sorry,” “My bad,” “That was my ball” as they acknowledge their bad play to their other teammates.

5. The game is perfect for all ages and for coed participation. Nobody feels left out – regardless of their skill level. Yes, height is an advantage – but no prerequisite to enjoying the game. Quickness and coordination are more valuable assets.

4. Every home court has its own idiosyncrasies. For example, in the Apple back yard you can easily tear an ACL in one of the sink holes designed to increase the level of difficulty in the game. Or you could be rewarded for over-zealous effort by running smack into the clothes line pole – hasn’t caused any stitches yet … but has the potential to get ugly. The only injuries I have seen so far are the bruises on the wrists from mis-hitting the ball.

3. The more sophisticated among you can practice the intricacies of Dig, Set, and Semi-Spike (very few legitimate spikes in our backyard casual games).

2. The game tests your balance between competitiveness and “playing nice” – every borderline out-of-bounds discussion (especially if you don’t bother to line your court) displays the variety of personalities involved. Imaginary lines are always somewhat problematic!

1. Good way to interact with your neighbors – since you are always in their yard retrieving errant balls! (I guess that could be a bad thing depending on your relationship with them.)