Training woman holding volley ball

Published on July 24th, 2013 | by Joe Starks


Exercise Spotlight: Volleyball

Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world, especially loved by the young. There are many variations of the game, like beach volleyball and water volleyball, which add new dimensions to an already highly interactive and challenging sport. Volleyball as we know it now was invented by William Morgan in 1985. It was first conceived as a sport similar to basketball, but less taxing. It quickly became popular after that, especially in the YMCA, and even though the rules have a changed a bit since then the game pretty much remains the same. So what is volleyball exactly? What are the benefits and downsides to playing the game? How do you train for volleyball? These and more questions we’ll answer below.

What is Volleyball?

Volleyball is a highly interactive team sport in which two teams of six fight to keep the ball from touching their side of the court, while also trying to make it touch the opponent teams ground. The two teams stand on the opposite sides of a tall net, which reaches over their eyes usually, and weight for a serve to be made. The serve is one teammate throwing the ball usually with one hand and sometimes two, from behind the back court line. The ball needs to go into the enemy team’s court where the six players are only allowed to touch the ball thrice before having to send it back over to the opponent court.

Teams win a point by either forcing the ball to hit the opponent team’s ground or by making the other team hit the ball more than thrice, which is then considered a fault. The moment a ball is served a “rally” begins, which ends when the ball hits the floor. A game can last for many rallies, depending on how balanced the skill of the two teams is.

What are the benefits of volleyball?

Volleyball has many benefits to it, like most sports approved and designed for young children and adolescents. The most important of those benefits are:

  • It is a team sport with a lot of social interaction. Working out in a team does wonders to the social fulfillment of a person whatever age they are. It is generally accepted though that this social fulfillment is most needed for children who still need to learn how to behave in groups and for the elderly, who often feel lonely and depressed. Social sports can teach players many values that will go far in their jobs, like charisma, leadership and respect.
  • It is a flexible sport. You can play volleyball at any level you want or can. A gentle game between children or elderly people can be just as much fun and good exercise like an Olympic volleyball battle. It is very easy to learn volleyball and it is challenging enough to master to keep interest up.
  • It is a whole body sport. You jump, you run, you serve and you throw, volleyball uses all muscles of the body, making it one of those healthy all in one sports.
  • It is very fun. The variety of the game plays and the chaos factor make volleyball a very versatile game.

What are the downsides of volleyball?

Sadly like most sports volleyball has a few downsides, some of which are:

  • High impact. Even though it is a less intense sport than basketball, volleyball is still considered high impact when played at an average level. This can easily rectified by playing less aggressively with a casual team. Young children and the elderly are advised to take it easy when it comes to hard serves and sharp sprints. A little bit of impact can help bone health, too much can break bones.
  • Size discrimination. Volleyball is once again one of those sports where the rule is: the taller the better. You reach over the net easier and return balls faster when you are tall. There have been some “shorter” successful volleyball players in the history of the sport, but it generally is an unfair world out there for those of smaller stature when it comes to volleyball. This can seriously discourage young people from joining.

Training for volleyball

In volleyball you usually have to train just about the same way like you do in basketball. You need to form overall strong musculature with a slight preference to legs and arms. Some of the most popular volleyball workouts are:

  • The ever present squat. Squats are the way to go when you want to strengthen back and legs fast. It is a mandatory exercise for most sportsmen.
  • Plyometrics. Jumping is a very important part of volleyball, so jumping higher must be trained thoroughly. Training jumping is just doing that: jumping. You jump from side to side, back and forward, from boxes or over floor ladders and obstacles.
  • Running and agility training. Learning how to run faster and break faster is very important lest you want to fall on your teammates all the time.
  • Flexibility training. You need to be flexible or else you will get lots of injuries in volleyball. This is why stretching is important.
  • Strength training, for stronger muscles to serve and dodge.
  • Playing the game. The only way to get muscle experience is by playing the game. It is a great overall workout.


Volleyball is by all rights one of the most popular sports in the world. It is fun, extremely versatile and a whole body workout. People of all ages can enjoy it and the social aspect of the game can turn this sport into more than just an exercise.

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