How Did Volleyball Get Started?

Group Of Teenage Friends Playing Volleyball On Beach

The game of volleyball is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. The first world championship was held in 1949 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The sport's Olympic debut was during the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964. In 1996, two-person beach volleyball game was added to the Olympics.


The sport of volleyball was started in the United States in 1895 by an instructor from the YMCA, William G. Morgan, director of physical education at the YMCA of Holyoke, Massachusetts. His desire was to blend elements from other sports such as basketball, handball and baseball into a less physical game that could be enjoyed by area businessmen and older gentlemen. The game was first called "mintonette" and was originally designed to be played solely indoors on a hard floor.

Original Game Rules

The first rules of the game were written by Morgan, who repurposed a tennis net to be raised 6 feet, 6 inches from the floor on a 25-by-50-foot court. There were no limits on the amount of volleys a team could have before sending the ball back over the net to the other team. Today, the limit is usually three. Each team was allowed three serves per inning, and there were nine innings per game. Most games were played with a typical overhand pass until the 1940s, when the forearm pass was also used.

Evolution of Volleyball

The new game of mintonette was quickly changed to volley ball, written as two words, when an observer noted that this may be a better way to describe the game. The first game was played on July 7, 1896, at Springfield College. A ball designed specifically for volleyball was created in 1900. The set-and-spike style was observed in the Philippines in 1916. In that same year, the YMCA asked the National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAA to assist in improving the rules and promoting the sport within schools and colleges. In 1917, final game points were changed from 21 to 15. The USA Volleyball organization was created in 1928 and was originally called the United States Volleyball Association.

Volleyball Spreads to Other Countries

After 1900, the YMCA introduced volleyball to many different countries, including Canada, Cuba and Uruguay. During World War I, thousands of volleyballs were sent overseas to troops, which helped encourage awareness of the game to other lands outside of the United States. Sports enthusiasts in Paris, France, founded the Federation Internationale De Volley Ball in the late 1940s. In the 1950s, the first volleyball game was played during the Pan American Games. The International Olympic Committee granted volleyball status as a team sport in 1957. The United States won gold for men and silver for women in 1984 during the Los Angeles Olympic Games.