Olympic Volleyball Uniform Rules
Craig Gillett/iStock/Getty Images
The Federation Internationale de Volleyball governs all international competitions, including the beach and indoor versions played in the Olympics. While players must adhere to rules regarding uniforms regardless of the venue, most of the controversy around volleyball uniforms is over the bikinis worn by beach players. Just before the 2012 games, the FIVB made a change in the beach uniform rules to be more culturally sensitive.
Indoor volleyball uniforms consist of a jersey, shorts, socks and light, flexible athletic with rubber soles. While some player's may wear elbow pads, knee pads and ankle braces for extra support and safety, they're not required. All player's uniforms must be kept clean to avoid obstruction of their number, which can be caused by blood from injury or long hair.
Numbers and Jerseys
With one exception, the color and design of the team's jerseys must match. A player's number must be between 1 and 20. It has to be on the center of the front and back of the jersey and in a shade different from the rest of the jersey. It must be at least 15 centimeters on the chest and 20 centimeters on the back. The team captain must have a stripe which underlines the number on their chest.
The matching uniform exception is for the libero, a defensive specialist who can only play on the back row. Since the libero has to stand out to players and referees alike, she must wear a uniform in clear contrast to what her teammates wear. That rule applies in all levels of volleyball.
Beach volleyball, which is played with two players instead of six, grabbed the attention of TV viewers in part because the female players wore bikini bottoms. Players carried that tradition into the Olympics as well, usually over the concerns of some viewers who thought it exploited the players. In 2011, the FIVB gave beach players the option to cover up a bit with shorts and tank tops. They always had the option to don a hat, visor or sunglasses. Players must wear a 10-centimeter long No. 1 or 2 on the chest or bottoms.
- Craig Gillett/iStock/Getty Images