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The History of Volleyball

The game of volleyball is more than 120 years old. It was designed to be a combination of basketball, baseball, tennis and handball and was originally called mintonette. William G. Morgan conceived the game for older athletes who attended the YMCA for exercise. The problem was finding a ball that would be easy to tap back and forth across the net. Morgan asked the Spalding company to create a special one that was lighter than a basketball. After several tries, they succeeded with a ball that had 3 layers, a latex bladder, cheesecloth type material and then an outer leather layer.

In 1917, 16,000 balls were sent to American and Allied troops during World War One which spread knowledge of the game to Europe. It was played in a variety of ways until the late 1920’s when the United States Volleyball Association (now called USA Volleyball) was established and created an official rulebook. Volleyball initially was mostly a sport of leisure and recreation but became more competitive as the sport caught on. It made the Olympics in 1964 and Beach Volleyball made the games in 1996.

At first the net was only 6 feet, 6 inches high. Now it is 8 feet and the game has gotten a bit more difficult than its original conception. Volleyball is played on a court with 6 players on each side. Each team has three chances to get the ball over the net after a serve. A player cannot touch the ball twice consecutively.

Nowadays more girls are playing volleyball than basketball in high school. The club volleyball world has exploded with girls hoping to sharpen their skills and play in college. The average cost to play and attend tournaments in select club ball is $5,000 per season. Many families would say it is worth it because more than 27,000 women are currently playing at the college level. Boys are also playing more volleyball competitively but their numbers are nowhere near the girls.

Whether you want to play for fun or compete on a team, all you need are good athletic shoes, knee pads and of course, the ball. Millions of people play volleyball worldwide making it the 5th most popular sport.