Combat volleyball is a version of volleyball I was introduced to in the United States Army. In essence, it is the standard game of volleyball minus any ticky-tack rule that impedes the flow of play or prevents bodily contact -- especially if it prevents bodily contact.

Foot faults while serving? We don't need no stinking foot faults. Carried the ball? Oh, shut the fuck up and play. In the net? Well, stay away from the fucking net if you don't wanna get hurt.

Combat volleyball is a form of primal scream therapy. Frustrations accumulated from personal differences with people you must work in daily close contact with can be released. Always wanted to slug that smug bastard? Well, here's a chance to go to the net and try to take his head off. Going to the net is akin to entering a combat zone - hence its name.

Rank gets you no special privileges in combat volleyball. The game is generally played by enlisted men - few officers having the courage to step on the court, knowing, consciously or unconsciously, that they are likely to be constant targets if they get in the game. Those officers who do play either already have the respect of their troops or are more likely to earn it.

Combat volleyball helps build camaraderie. It's a cleansing. There are unwritten rules of acceptable play and, unless someone crosses that line, what happens on the court is forgotten. It also opens a window on character; seeing who resorts only to picking on the weak and who flinches from a confrontation they might lose. You can learn more about people playing 40 minutes of combat volleyball than you could from any number of psychological tests.

I've worked for a few corporations that could wisely spend a few afternoons playing combat volleyball.

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