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Volleyball: History, Court, and Equipment

Madhavi Ghare Oct 23, 2020
Volleyball is one of the most popular of American sports. In this post, we tell you about the origins and history of this game, followed by some information about a typical volleyball court, and the equipment you'll need to get started.
Volleyball is a team sport where 2 teams of 6 active players are separated by a high net. The rules of the game are quite straightforward. Points are scored when one team grounds a ball in the opposing team's court, or when the opposing team makes a fault. The game is made up of sets, with each set comprising 25 points. The first team to win 3 sets, wins the game.
The ball is mostly directly with hands and arms, however, sometimes players also use other parts of their bodies to strike or push the ball. A team can contact the ball up to a maximum of 3 times before it must cross the net.
Mostly, volleyball is an indoor sport. However, other variations of the game, such as beach volleyball, have also developed over a period of time and are very popular these days.

Volleyball History

Volleyball was invented on the 9th of February, 1895, by William G. Morgan, who was a physical instruction teacher in the YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA. He wanted to create an indoor game which could be played by any number of players. It was originally called Mintonette.
Some of the traits of the game were borrowed from tennis and handball. This was also the time when another game called basketball was gaining a lot of popularity. Mintonette was intended to be an indoor game that was less rough and could be played by the older members of the YMCA.
Initial rules laid down by William G. Morgan required a net which was 1.98 meters (6 feet 6 inches) high and a court which was 7.6 meters X 15.2 meters (25 feet X 50 feet) in size. The game could have any number of players.
The match was made up of 9 innings where each team had 3 serves in each inning. There was also no limit to the number of contacts which a team could make on the ball before passing it on to the opposing team's side.
Of course, the rules have evolved over time. The set and spike was introduced by 1916 and in 1917 the game changed from 21 points to 15 points.
In 1900, Canada officially adopted volleyball.
In 1919 the American Expeditionary Forces distributed about 16,000 volleyballs to their troops and allies, and soon the game spread to different parts of the world.
In 1920 the '3 hits rule' and the back row hitting guidelines were established.
In 1924, Volleyball was introduced in the Olympics - the games were held in Paris, where it was played as an American sports demonstration event. Officially the game was included in the Olympics in 1964.
In 1947, the FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) was formed leading to the first of the World Championships to be held: in 1949 for men and in 1952 for women. Many countries have adopted volleyball since then including Brazil, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, and China.
In 1987, the FIVB endorsed Beach Volleyball, which is a game played on sand with only 2 players per team. Beach Volleyball was officially introduced in the Olympics program in 1996.

Volleyball Court

Volleyball courts have evolved since the time the game was played the first time. Today, the game is played in both indoor courts as well as on outdoor ones which are typically built on beaches and has the same layout.
A volleyball court is 9 meters wide and 18 meters long. This is then divided into two halves of 9 meters X 9 meters each. A net which is 1 meter wide is placed in the center, so that the top of the net is 2.43 meters high (for men) and 2.24 meters high (for women). The height is often varied for different types of players such as veterans and juniors.
A line is drawn parallel to the net in each half, at a distance of 3 meters. This is called the 'attack line'. Thus, the court area of each team is divided, on either sides of these lines into the 'front row' and 'back row' areas.
The court areas are also surrounded by an area called 'the free zone' which is at least 3 meters wide on all sides of the court. The players can enter and play within this free zone after the service of the ball.

Requirements and Equipment

The first and foremost requirement for playing a game of volleyball is the court. One can either book a court if available in one's locality or construct one in a beach with due permission from the authorities. One might even build one in one's background if enough space is available.
The next is obviously, the ball. The ball is made out of natural or synthetic leather and is inflated with compressed air. As per the regulations laid down by the FIVB, the ball must:
  • Have a circumference between 65 to 67 centimeters.
  • Weigh between 260 to 280 grams.
  • Have an inside pressure between 0.30 to 0.325 kilograms per centimeter square.
The next bit of equipment for a volleyball player is the outfit. A variety of volleyball specific uniforms are available. The colors can be chosen as per the decision of the team. The uniform basically comprises jerseys, low-rise shorts and volleyball shoes. One may even use accessories such as headbands, arm bands, elbow and knee protection, etc.
There are a variety of good sporting brands which make clothes and equipment for volleyball players. There are even complete volleyball kits available in the market for those who are new to the game.