A Complete Guide to Volleyball

When you think about the sport Volleyball, then the adjectives often used to describe this face-paced game is perhaps 6 players, team skills, athletic, fist batting, energetic, interesting , aggressive and loud.  Volleyball is one of the game that most of us played during childhood with our friends, as you do not require a lot of equipment to play the game.  From playing it on the beach to the court- volleyball is a unique recreational and professional sport that people enjoy playing.

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In a Nutshell

Volleyball is a popular team sport that is played by using a net and a ball.  There are two teams on either side of the net that divides the court from the center.  The game involves hitting the ball with the fist across the net to the other team’s court, and the other team hitting it back across the net within bounds.  The ball has to be hit across the net within three tries, ensuring that the ball does not hit the ground. 

Volleyball has been originally created by William Morgan in 1985, a director at YMCA.  In fact, he was trying to emerge with a different game, much like basketball, but less strenuous and volleyball was the output of his inventiveness.  Not to add, the rules of volleyball are different from the original game, but the game nonetheless was quite a hit at YMCA.  The person who is credited for giving the name ‘volleyball’ is Alfred Halstead who came up with it owing to the volleying nature of the game.  Volleyball was officially entered the Olympics in 1964 where the USSR bagged the first gold for the men’s volleyball team while Japan bagged it for its women’s volleyball team. 

Volleyball came to India through Physical Education trainers around seventy years ago.  It gained popularity quite rapidly owing to its affordability and interest factor.   Eventually, in 1951, the Volleyball Federation of India was established, the only controlling authority of the sport in India.  Volleyball has garnered a lot of popularity in both the urban and rural areas. 

There are several successful Indian volleyball stars that have shone on the court such as Jimmy George, Ballu, Sukhpal, Cyril Vellore, Udaykumar among many others.

 What is Volleyball?

Volleyball is played by two teams that has six players each. It is a sport that needs minimal equipment and is both an indoors and outdoors sport.  The court is 18 meters long and 9 meters wide and is divided into two equal sides with an official net height which stands 8 ft/2.43 meters above the ground level in case of men’s tournaments and 7.4 ft/2.24meters in the case of women’s tournaments and is variable in other cases for younger or older players.

 In volleyball, the players use their hands/fists to bat the ball across the high net in an attempt to make the ball touch the playing area of the opponent.  The opposing team players try their best to bat the ball and keep it from touching the surface of the court by touching the ball three times before it is finally batted across to the other side of the net.

In India, there are two volleyball teams- the Men’s Volleyball Team and the Women’s Volleyball Team, that both are national teams.  The Volleyball Federation of India is what organises the volleyball tournaments in schools, colleges as well as at state-level and international levels.  Some of the popular volleyball championships include Indian Volley League, South Asian Federation Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and FIVB World Championship.

There is also a volleyball league in India – the Indian Volley League- where six teams play in four round robin format at four venues, namely Yanam, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore.  The six teams are from Chennai, Hyderabad, Yanam and Mumbai with two state teams from Kerala and Karnataka respectively.

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A Brief Overview and History of the Sport

  • People have indulged in ball games since times immemorial; however this sport was created by William G. Morgan, a physical education instructor who merged aspects of throwball and tennis to emerge with a new form of indoor game called Volleyball.
  • Volleyball is played between two opposing teams, wherein each team has to bat the ball with their hand in such a way that it cross over the net and touches the ground on the opponent’s play area, which scores a point.
  • The distinct feature of volleyball is the ball and the net, where the former is lighter in weight as compared to the basketball or football.
  • Volleyball reached India 70 years ago through physical education teachers from abroad. The sport gained quick popularity and is widely played across the country even in educational institutions and the armed forces.
  • The first official training for volleyball commenced in Chennai, which eventually spread to other states.
  • The game was earlier managed by the Olympic Association that held tournaments every two years. However, in 1951, the Volleyball Federation of India came into force.  
  • The first volleyball championship in India post independence was organised in Chennai in the year 1952.
  • India’s ranking in the sport in 5th in Asia and 27th in the world, while the men’s volleyball team ranks 39th in the world.
  • Some of the most outstanding Indian volleyball players include names such as Jimmy George, Ballu, Sukhpal, Cyril Vellore.
  • The best performance by the national volleyball team was at the Junior Men’s Volleyball Championship in 2009 where they stood fourth.

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The Rules and Basic Requirements for Volleyball

  • The main objective of the game is to bat the ball with the hand or fist in a manner that it crosses over the net and reaches the opponent’s court and touches the ground or if the opponents fail to throw the ball back within three touches.
  • Every single time the ball touches the ground, the respective team wins a point.
  • The game has 5 sets, hence the team that has the best three sets out the five wins the match.
  • Each team consists of 6 players.
  • The court is generally 9 m wide and 18 m long and is parted equally from the center.
  • The net is to be kept at a height of 2.43 and 2.24 meters for men and women tournaments respectively.
  • The Attack Line is the line that is parallel to the center line at a distance of 3 meters, which apparently divides the court into the ‘back court’ and ‘front court’ areas.
  • The game comprises of 5 sets and each set is usually of 25 points, or, if necessary can be played to 15 points in certain matches.
  • The team that wins is the one that has scored the three best sets out of the five sets
  • A point is scored when the ball touches the opponent’s court.
  • Each team gets three opportunities to touch the ball before batting it across with their hands, however, the rule is that three different people need to touch the ball.
  • The Libero player is the one who wears a different jersey colour and is a player who has exceptions defensive skills.
  • The ball used in the game has to be made out of synthetic leather or leather and should have a circumference of 65–67 cm and should weigh 260–280 g
  • All volleyball matches have a 60-minute time limit for competitive volleyball and a 45-minute time limit for social volleyball.

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Additional Facts

  • For regular volleyball, a player requires knee pads, special shoes and sometimes braces for supporting wrists and ankles.

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The Volleyball Federation of India was established and the sport has now garnered a lot of popularity in both the urban and rural areas. 

The Volleyball Federation of India is the sole governing body for the Volleyball teams in India and it looks into organising the national, inter-state, inter-collegiate events. It was established in 1951 and oversees the functioning of both volleyball and beach volleyball in India on both national and international levels.

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Important Championships

On an International Level

India’s Ranking in FIVB World Championship

Championship Venue Position
1952 Soviet UnionMoscow 8th

India’s Ranking in Asian Volleyball Championship

Championship Venue Position
1975 AustraliaMelbourne DNP
1979  BahrainManama 5th
1983  JapanTokyo 5th
1987  KuwaitKuwait City 5th
1989  South KoreaSeoul 6th
1991  AustraliaPerth 10th
1993  ThailandNakhon Ratchasima 9th
1995  South KoreaSeoul DNP
1997  QatarDoha 9th
1999  IranTehran 9th
2001  South KoreaChangwon 7th
2003  ChinaTianjin 5th
2005  ThailandSuphanburi 4th
2007  IndonesiaJakarta 9th
2009  PhilippinesManila 9th
2011  IranTehran 6th
2013  United Arab EmiratesDubai 7th
2015  IranTehran 11th


India’s Ranking in Men’s Junior Volleyball World Championship

Championship Venue Position
1981 11th
1995 9th
2005 9th
2007  MoroccoRabat and Casablanca DNP
2009  IndiaDelhi 4th
2011  BrazilRio de Janeiro and Niterói 8th
2013  Turkey 8th
2015  MexicoTijuana and Mexicali Not Started.


Men’s Junior Volleyball World Championship-  This international event is held every two years.  Team India’s best performance was in 2009 where they stood 4th place.

Asian Volleyball Championship-  This championship is held every two years.  India has featured amongst the top ten teams throughout.

South Asian  Games – Earlier known as South Asian Federation Games, this event is biennial and is held among athletes from across South Asia. Team India bagged a gold medal in 1987 in Kolkata and repeated the win in 1991 at the SAF Games in Colombo

Asian Games-  This multi-sport event is held every four years among athletes from Asia.  The Indian volleyball team won a gold medal in 1955 in Japan and then again won the bronze in 1958.

Commonwealth Games-  These games are held every 4 years for the members of the commonwealth nations.  India attained the third position in 1980

On a National Level

National Volleyball League Club Championship- This is a professional league for volleyball competitions in India that have gained popularity across the country and is known as the Final League.  Because of the creation of clubs, volleyball has achieved greater exposure and has also given opportunities to talented players who later go on to become a part of the national volleyball team.  This has also led to the creation of leading volleyball clubs in the country who have international calibre and playing abilities.

Famous Volleyball Players

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Jimmy GeorgeWhen it comes to Indian volleyball, Jimmy George is one person who is considered to be the greatest volleyball players of all time.  He was born in Peravoor on March 8, 1955 and died in November 30, 1987.  He was a member of the Men’s national volleyball team.  George attained the distinction of becoming the first Indian volleyball player to attain a professional and he played at a professional volleyball club in Italy.

Jimmy George’s foray into volleyball started off from home as he learnt to play the sport from his father who was also a former university-level player.  He played for his school and also became a part of his university volleyball team.  Eventually, Jimmy joined the Kerala Team from 1973-76 and during the four years he was with them, the team won the All India Inter-University Championships.  George became the captain of the Kerala Team in 1973 and represented the state 11 times. 

George went to the Persian Gulf in 1979 to play for the Abu Dhabi Sports Club. He then left Abu Dhabi in 1982 and went on to join Coletto Club at Treviso in Italy and played for them for a season. Later, he changed to System Impiani and played for them in 1983-84. George later came back to India and played his last national championship on home turf in 1985 and then returned to play for Arrital team in Italy. In 1987-88 he signed a contract with Eurostyle-Euroslba team at Montchiari in Brescia and it was during that time he lost his life in a car crash.

Jimmy represented India and played for the national volleyball team in the Asian Games in Tehran (1974), Bangkok (1978) and in Seoul (1986) where India won the bronze medal. He captained the Indian team and led them to victory in India Gold Cup International Volleyball Tournament at Hyderabad in 1986.

Jimmy George also has the distinction of having earned the Arjuna Award at a young age of 21 years.  He has also received the G.V. Raja Award in 1975 and won the Manorama Award, for the best sportsman of Kerala, in 1976. He was judged the best player in the Gulf Region while playing for Abu Dhabi Sports Club, from 1979-82.

A.Palanisamy – Palinasamy was a volleyball player who hailed from the state of Tamil Nadu.  He died on 12 November, 2007.  Palinasamy was a part of the national volleyball team when they played in the Asian Games in the early 60s.  He was nicknamed Black Panther because of the ferocity of his movement on the court, particularly in the 1962 Asian games held in Jakarta. He was also named Asia’s No 1 player in 1962. Palinasamy was the first player to receive the Arjuna Award in this sports category.  He retired from volleyball in 1998 after coaching the Sivaganga District in Tamil Nadu.

Cyril Vellore– He is one of the prominent volleyball players who hails from Kerala.  He has represented the country in various national and international championships which includes the 1986 Seoul Asian Games where he captained the Indian team that won the bronze medal.  His partnership with Jimmy George in the 1980s volleyball team made them a force ot reckon with, as they together played for the country.  He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1986 for his contribution to the Indian volleyball.

Balwant Singh Sagwal  He is more popularly known as Ballu.  Sagwal was a star player in the India Men’s National Volleyball Team.  He was born in the village of Kaul in Haryana and came from a modest family.  Sagwal had joined the Border Security Force which had the distinction of producing the best volleyball players at that time.  He was instrumental in mobilising Punjab’s victory in national volleyball tournaments in the 1960s and 70s.  Sagwal was awarded the Arjuna Award for his contribution to volleyball in 1972.  Sagwal died in November 2010, however, he has left behind a legacy of volleyball through his volleyball academy in Kaul. 

On the whole, volleyball is a game that is a mix between basketball and tennis and this makes it a very fast-paced and interesting game to both watch and play.  If you know some interesting facts about Volleyball or have a question about this sport, then do feel free to ask us in the comment section below! At YoGems, we have experts who can counsel you on archery and provide you with trainers and instructors who can guide you in this sport.



Shivangi Gupta is a Content Writer Expert at YoGems. With years of experience in writing blogs, articles and guides, she writes about every sport. Also, she is good at sports and expert in shooting and won numerable awards at various events. She started receiving shooting training under her father at the age of 6. To get updated with her posts, stay tuned to the website.