History of Volleyball

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History of Volleyball

The history of volleyball began over 200 years ago. Volleyball was first played in China between 400 BC and 300 AD. In the 1800’s, volleyball spread throughout Europe and Asia.

How Volleyball Was Played

In the early days of volleyball, players would hit a small leather ball back and forth across the court. There were no rules regarding how high you could jump and where you could run. A lot of players would use their shoes or even their bare feet. Players didn't wear uniforms until the 1930's. The sport of volleyball became popular at colleges around the United States. In 1891, the Intercollegiate Volleyball Association was founded in New York City. By the turn of the century, many universities had organized their own intercollegiate tournaments.

The First Official Rules

In 1919, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was formed. Because they allowed any college to play in their tournament, the NCAA established official rules for volleyball. These included rules about who could touch the ball, how the game should be played, and what counts as a score. The two teams started playing each other in the 1920's.

World War II

World War II brought the end of the dominance of American colleges in volleyball. Many men left school to fight for our country, taking volleyball with them. While women continued to play, men only returned in 1946. After the war, many countries took notice of the sport and its huge popularity in America. Japan, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, and Argentina all entered the world stage of volleyball.

Women's Volleyball

Women's volleyball began in 1938 when a group of students from Ohio State University decided to start a team to compete with their male counterparts. Their first match was against Vassar College. The National Federation of Professional Women's Volleyball Associations (NFPWVA) was founded in 1939, and in 1941, the NFPWVA sponsored the first U.S. Volleyball Championship. The first WVBA season began in 1945. The U.S. Olympic Committee recognized women's volleyball as an official sport in 1956, although women have been competing in international competitions since 1936.

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Modern Day Volleyball

Today, we have many different kinds of volleyball being played. Beach volley and beach volleyball are both played on sand. Sand volleyball is played on hard courts where players cannot run. Indoor volleyball is played in gymnasiums and stadiums, while floorball is played on a field similar to soccer. Volleyball continues to grow in popularity worldwide. Over 1 billion people are now involved with some kind of volleyball activity including watching, playing, coaching, teaching, refereeing, officiating, and volunteering.

Rules of Volleyball

Volleyball is governed by three sets of official rules. The rules are: The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), the International Volleyball Federation for Women (FIVB for Women), and the International Volleyball Confederation (CIB). All four bodies meet regularly to discuss technical changes and rule interpretations.

First recorded volleyball game

The first documented game of volleyball was played on May 1, 1843 by students at the Normal School in Hanover, N.H. A team from Dartmouth College defeated their counterparts from Williams College 16-11. The teams were playing to settle who held the top spot in the New England intercollegiate championship.

Rules of play

Volleyball is played between two teams of 6 players each (12 total). Each player wears a small ball attached to a string, which they swing over the net while running toward the opposing team’s goal. Teams try to score points by knocking the ball off the strings of the opposing team using any part of the body except the hands. When a spike occurs, the opponent loses a point. If the ball touches the ground after hitting the strings, the spike is considered illegal and the opposing team scores a point. There are three types of spikes that can occur: a serve, drop shot, and lob.


When serving the ball, the server stands behind the baseline and swings the ball back with enough force to hit the strings above the net. After contact, the ball bounces out of bounds. Opponents cannot return serves until the ball comes to rest inside the court.

Image by mastermind76 from Pixabay

Drop Shot

A drop shot is a type of spike where the ball hits the ground before touching the strings. Dropping the ball allows the server to run around the back line and get closer to the opponent's goal. Players may not use their feet to push a ball down towards the opponent's goal.


A lob is when the ball is struck just below the net, causing the ball to fall towards the opponent's goal instead of bouncing out. It is most commonly used in attack situations.

How many international championships have been won?

There have been 5 World Championships since the sport’s inception in 1929; 1937, 1938, 1939, 1945, and 1959. Additionally, there have been two Olympic Games hosted, 1932 and 1996. These events included men’s volleyball as well as women’s volleyball.

Who invented volleyballs?

Vladimir Kokkinaki was credited with inventing the modern day volleyball in 1912. However, he did not patent his invention, leading others to develop similar balls. In 1914, Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. She was accompanied by her husband Charles Lindbergh and they swam together in a single rowboat that had only one seat. Her feat helped pave the way for more female participation in sports; including volleyball.


The modern game of volleyball was invented in 18th Century Italy. In 1750, the sport became popular among upper class men who began playing outside of public parks and palaces. Men were known to play the sport with long sticks that resembled bocce balls. There were no rules at first. Eventually, rules were created that banned hitting opponents’ feet and hands, and introduced scoring systems.


In 1879, the International Fair Games Federation (Fédération Mondiale des Jeux Sportifs) was formed in Paris. By 1920, the organization had spread across Europe. In 1927, the first world championship tournament took place in Prague. Today, volleyball is played in over 100 countries and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as a sport.


Volleyball grew significantly after World War II. Due to the invention of plastics, materials improved to allow players to wear less clothing. A spike ball was developed to replace the standard wooden stick. Modern technology allowed teams to have more equipment and increased the number of courts. In 1961, the first official rules document was written. Since then, the game has become increasingly popular.


According to World Health Organization data, about 2 billion people currently practice some type of physical activity. Volleyball is an excellent way to exercise and improve muscle tone. Playing the sport also helps improve hand-eye coordination and improves endurance. Volleyball's popularity has grown worldwide since its formation. It has been observed that children today are participating in volleyball with their parents much earlier than before. Adults are now showing interest in the sport because they want to enjoy it alongside their children.


Volleyball is expected to continue growing in popularity in the future. The game is already becoming an international event where players compete in events such as the FIVB World Cup. As technology advances, so does the sport. Teams are able to use high tech spikes to increase accuracy. New innovations are being made to further improve the game. Players are now wearing protective gear instead of just uniforms. This allows them to wear sneakers, tights, and socks. These improvements help reduce injuries that would otherwise occur due to collisions. Team members are now using holographic training tools to improve their performance. Holographic technology helps players improve their skills while reducing the risk of injury.

Volleyball was invented in 1895 by Dr. James Naismith, who developed the game after observing a group of young men playing what he thought looked like rugby while at YMCA Training School in Springfield MA. He later went on to invent basketball, which was first played in 1891. On January 17th,1896, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) held their inaugural congress in Prague, Czechoslovakia. In 1912, volleyball became recognized as an official Olympic sport.

The original rules were written down by Naismith, and they included 12 players per team, 2 teams, and the ball could not travel over the net. Today's rules have changed quite a bit! Most notably, the number of players on each team has increased to 15, and the height of the backboard has been raised significantly. There are now 5 different types of serves and 4 different types of blocks. A few years ago, women's volleyball was added to the Olympics, and today the FIVB oversees both genders' versions of the game.

Brief History of Volleyball

  • The first volleyball was invented by William Guegan in 1885. He created the game after seeing players play handball (a forerunner to modern day basketball) while playing tennis. In 1887, he published his book “The Game of Handball”, detailing how to play the sport.
  •  In 1895, James Naismith came up with a design for the netting used today. He originally called it the ‘Tee Net’, but later changed it to what we know today as ‘Netting’. By 1898, a group of athletes met at Springfield College in Massachusetts, USA to create rules for a new game. The game was officially named 'Volley Ball' by John Voris, who had been working for the YMCA at Springfield.
  •  In 1914, Dr. William Ruckelshaus, an English professor from Princeton University, developed the first official set of rules for volleyball. These rules were based on the rules of football, rugby, and baseball.
  •  From 1914 until 1936, the International Volleyball Federation was established. Its goal was to establish international rules for volleyball. However, due to World War I, this wasn't possible. The organization was reestablished in 1954, but was dissolved again in 1959.
  •  In 1965, the Pan American Games were held in Mexico City, where the first ever World Championship of Volleyball was played. Four years later, the games returned to Brazil, where they have remained since.
  • In 1966, the United States hosted the first FIVB World Championships. The tournament was won by Yugoslavia, followed by the USSR, Italy, and Japan.
  • In 1973, the Women's Volleyball World Cup was inaugurated. The inaugural event took place in Tokyo, Japan. China won their first title in 1975, defeating Yugoslavia.
  • In 1978, the world championship trophy was donated by the Japanese government to the FIVB. The first winner of the trophy was Brazil.
  • In 1983, the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) was founded. Their mission statement was to promote and develop volleyball around the world.
  • In 1988, the FIVB decided to split the men's and women's competitions apart. Men's tournaments were now known as the World League, while the Women's World Championship was renamed the World Grand Prix.
  • In 1991, the FIVB announced the creation of two leagues. One league would consist of countries from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, while the other league would consist of European nations.
  • In 1992, the FIVB approved the use of electronic scoreboards. A year later, the FIVB allowed the use of television broadcasts.
  • In 1998, the FIVB gave its approval for the introduction of polyurethane balls.
  • In 1999, the FIVB banned the use of spike blocking.until you know them inside and out.


"The game of volleyball was invented in ancient Greece and Rome. The ball was made out of leather or cloth, depending on the climate and weather conditions. When the ball hit the ground, it bounced back up and the player had to try and catch it before it went over the net."

I hope you have enjoyed this article!!!

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