Can you play volleyball outside or outdoors? Indoor vs outdoor volleyball

Volleyball is often viewed as an indoor sport. However, it definitely can be played outdoors as well. It takes some adjustments to do so but as the popularity of beach volleyball shows, it can be a lot of fun to do so. Granted, if it rains or there are strong winds outside it can be difficult to play volleyball as this affects the direction of the ball so it can’t be played under as many conditions as indoor volleyball. Hard floors might also deter players from sliding, making the game less dynamic. 

Under outdoor volleyball often the following is understood:

Beach volleyball: this is volleyball on the sand. This has different rules (such as a bigger ball and a smaller field) than standard indoor volleyball.

Pool volleyball: This is volleyball that is played in a pool. You have to swim instead of run. This can be a lot of fun but quite challenging as you have to control the ball and swim at the same time.

Garden volleyball: this is typically played on grass. You can make spectacular slides in this type of game and create great saves.

-Snow volleyball

-Outdoor courts: these fields are often hard ground (such as concrete). This might limit the game as you can’t play as aggressively as you can on other undergrounds as the terrain is quite rough. 

More distractions

One of the main challenges between indoor volleyball (which is typically played in a sports arena) and outdoor volleyball is that there are a lot of things that can affect the game. From winds to rain to objects on the court and people walking on your field. All of these are less of an issue when you play the game inside. Therefore there are more things that can interfere with your game.

You have to be aware of this and often check the weather and field before you schedule a game. These distractions can give one team an unfair advantage and you have to make clear rules about this. For example, if it is clear that the wind has affected the direction of the ball you might agree that this specific point doesn’t count as this gave one team an advantage over another team. This can be hard to agree on and you might have to select a referee that can check this for you.

Need outdoor equipment

To play volleyball outside, you will need other equipment than the gear you use to play inside. Outdoor balls are more rugged than indoor balls and are better able to deal with the harsh underground. Therefore they are also often slightly more expensive. You also might have to look at other shoes as outdoor shoes offer more grip and you probably don’t want to make your indoor shoes dirty as it will not be appreciated by your sports arena if you enter with dirty shoes. 

Teams are more fluid

In outdoor volleyball, the teams are changing more often as people come and go as they please. If yo play in a public location, there will be people that ask to join your game. It can be a great way to meet new people. Indoor volleyball teams often stay the same for years and people really know their team members well and know what they expect.

This can make outdoor volleyball quite challenging as you don’t know how the new player will react to a pass. This is a fun but challenging part of outdoor volleyball. 

Challenge to build a court

Outdoor volleyball can be played on sand, in water, grass, mud but also on harder undergrounds such as concrete. This soil can affect what volleyball moves are possible. For example, you are probably not going to dive (or dig) to get a ball on the hard underground as you might land hard. Alternatively, on grass, it is often quite easy to slide.

Make sure that the field is safe and that both sides of the field have the same advantages (or disadvantages). If one part of the field has a big hole in the middle and the other part doesn’t, it might be hard to keep the game fair for both teams. 

Playing in the sand is a lot of fun as you can perform spectacular moves and dives. Let’s take a look at some below:

How to build a net

If you don’t have a net, you can look at makeshift solutions so that you can play outside anyway. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is to add a cord to a tree. Make sure that you don’t attach the cord to objects that can break or fall over as you might hit it with the ball. The cord marks the top of the net. If the ball goes over it, the point is valid.

If the ball goes under the cord, you don’t score a point. It might not look like much but a cord can definitely work as an alternative for a net. You might want to pick a cord that is quite wide to make it clear where it is running. Very narrow cards might not be visible enough during the heat of the game. Also, pick a color that is noticeable. 

A volleyball net is also quite affordable:

How to draw the lines.

It is really important that you outline how big the field is as this allows the players to see where they have to aim at. You can use chalk to draw the lines. Some people also use cords or other fabrics to show how big the field is. This makes sure that everyone knows if they have hit the ball outside the field or inside the field. This can avoid a lot of discussions and make it easier to play. You can waste a lot of time discussing the field size if it is not clearly outlined. 

Be sure to remove all the debris or other objects that could interrupt that game from the field.

To conclude, we can state that volleyball can be played indoors and outdoor. If you decide to play volleyball outdoors, you often have to check if the weather is nice enough. It is also necessary to have the right equipment so that you can play without interruptions. There are a lot more items that can interrupt your game if you play outside.

I even once had a dog run in our field during the middle of an attack. All these factors can make outside volleyball more challenging as you are playing in a less controlled environment but this can create a lot of fun as well. Olympic beach volleyball is gaining traction and can attract a lot of people to the sport. A lot of people have installed pools and pool volleyball is a great way to enjoy it. Therefore outdoor volleyball will grow quite a lot in the coming years.