I don’t understand why Volleyball isn’t more popular. The U.S. Men’s Volleyball team has won three gold medals for indoor Volleyball (1984, 1988 and 2008), and the outdoor teams have won five (1996, 2000 and 2008 by the men; and 2004 and 2008 for the women). You would think having a competitive team in any olympic sport would garner a little following, but I don’t see a dramatic spike in Volleyball players. Pro Basketball and Football will always be more lucrative than pro Volleyball, I get that. Since I’ve played all three, I think my bias is a little more informed than most other Volleyball players.
Although Volleyball doesn’t require ridiculous muscles (like Football or Rugby does), it requires a ridiculous amount of athleticism, pin-point timing and impeccable form. In order for a rally to work in Volleyball (the bump-set-spike), you need to have every aspect of that system perfected with your teammates, or it won’t really work. For example: when the serve comes over, one of the back-row players has to pass the ball to the setter with enough loft under it to give the setter time to get position under the ball. Once the setter is ready, they set the ball to one of their hitters poised to make an attack. Depending on the position of the hitter, arc of the ball and design of the play, the hitter has to be ready to approach as quickly, or as slowly, as needed to make solid contact on the ball. Lastly, the hitter must be able to jump high enough to reach the ball, and get it through any potential block the defense puts up.
Even all that isn’t as simple as it may sound. Each setter needs to know how high each hitter jumps, and each hitter needs to know exactly where the ball will end up by the time they reach it. Next, the hitter must jump with a certain form (called the bow-and-arrow) to give the hardest hit on the ball–hitting arm cocked back behind the head, and the free arm straight forward to provide accuracy and leverage on the swing.
When it comes to passing, the defenders must have their entire bodies trained exactly how to put the ball up from all different angles. An average serve in men’s professional Volleyball comes at about 60-80 mph (this is international play though, so don’t freak out). Although you will see serves that aren’t that fast, you need to be able to change your passing angle, footwork and orientation of your body in less than a second. If you don’t, you shank the pass. Next, the passer needs to be aware of not only where the setter is, but where the setter will most likely end up (and put the ball right there).
There are tons of other tips and tricks to playing the different positions in Volleyball, I will go over the positions in part 2.
Jordan Freis is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which courses are available through accredited online colleges to help them reach their goals.