How do you go pro in volleyball? A step by step explanation

It is a dream of a lot of people to become a professional volleyball player. They dream about the glamour and glitz that this brings along. It is important to realize that there is a long way before you can become a professional volleyball player. It involves years of practicing, a lot of wins and losses along the way.

Some players also have to deal with injuries and team conflicts. It can be a lot of work and several years before you get there. You have to realize this if you dream about going pro in volleyball. There is no easy way to get there and you need to make a conscious decision that you will stop at nothing to get there.

Is there a pro volleyball league in the USA?

There are no full-fledged professional volleyball leagues in the USA. Athletes Unlimited is working on a new concept. Their goal is to make volleyball more attractive by adding unique scoring elements and rotating teams. It is a promising concept that can attract a lot of attention if they keep executing well. At the moment there are only a handful of games scheduled in their second season.

The athletes that participate often are active in other countries so that they can play full-time. We will have to see how this competition will evolve over time. It took the NBA also a long time before it came popular so it might take several decades before Athletes Unlimited can evolve into a well-recognized league.

If the USA Olympics team keeps winning, the sport could gain quite a lot of popularity and this league might take off. A lot of leagues have been started over the years and only a small fraction of them survive. It is necessary to find enough sponsors and supporters to pull this off. You also need great players that are willing to commit to it.

Athletes Unlimited is taking a great approach by building out the competition step by step instead of trying to do too much at once. Hopefully, they will be able to build out the ecosystem of players, coaches, and teams so that they can build a successful league over time. This can lead to more interest in volleyball in the USA as it is a career path.

This competition is still evolving and there are no full-time pro athletes that are paid by it. This means that you will go to Europe (for example Italy, Turkey), South America (for example Brazil), or Asia (for example Japan, China, or South Korea) if you want to play volleyball as a pro. These countries have a long volleyball tradition (dating at least 4 decades back).

They have the required infrastructure to support a professional league and have a national volleyball association that regulates all the matches and sets the rules. The best players and coaches have to go there to play volleyball. This means that they have to leave their family and friends behind for a few years to pursue their careers.

It is important that only very few players are able to become professional volleyball players so you have to give it your best shot and accept that you might not make it. You can try and see how it goes, afterward, you will never have to regret that you didn’t try. Let’s discuss what steps you need to take to get there.

Photo by Stephen Baker on Unsplash

American volleyball players often travel around and tend to play in multiple places around the world. This allows them to discover new countries and playing styles. Each country has a unique take on volleyball and it can be interesting to get to know a lot of them if you want to get really great at volleyball. Given the recent successes of Team USA in the Olympics, this willingness to try different playing styles can be a winning recipe for a great volleyball career.

Steps to become a professional volleyball player.

Step 1: join a volleyball team: age 8-14 years

A lot of people start playing volleyball in their early teens or even before this. This gives them about a decade of experience before they become a professional athlete. You are going to learn the five basic volleyball skills (serving, spiking, setting, blocking, and digging) and train these over and over again. You will also learn how to communicate with other players and learn their preferences. Team dynamics are very important in volleyball and you have to learn how to deal with other players.

During this period you will participate in a lot of tournaments and competitions. During these matches, you can show your talent to the world. In some instances, there are scouts present. These can see how good you are at volleyball and invite you to a tryout. Your coach can also help you to get into a local tryout.

Let’s take a look at the career trajectory of Team USA player Rachael Adams:

Step 2:  join a better team: age 14-16 years

Over time you can join a team that is doing better. This means that they are playing volleyball faster than other teams and that they are better at defending and attacking. You can join these teams by showing that you deserve a place in them. This can be done during a tryout or you can contact the coach and ask if you can join a training to see if it is a mutual fit.

It is possible that you have to travel further to join this team. In some instances, you even have to move to another state. During this time your volleyball skills will improve a lot. Having a great coach can make the difference between stagnating and bringing your volleyball game to the next level.

Step 3: age 16-21 years

At this stage, things start to get serious. You might join a lot of tournaments and teams might start to reach out to you. Joining a tryout can be quite stressful but you will probably get invited for another one if the first tryout didn’t work out. At this point, you should master the five basic skills and get better at playing in a team and study several strategies.

You have to be able to anticipate how your team members and the other team are going to react. This will make sure that you time your attacks and defenses well. Watching other teams play can teach you a lot about what patterns work and which ones don’t. 

Photo by Josh Duke on Unsplash

Step 4: Age 21-25 years

You might be part of a professional volleyball team by this point. The youngest Olympic volleyball athlete is 19 years old so you can become a professional player quite early on. The first few years you are probably not going to make the starting lineup as you still have a lot to learn.

You might substitute a player from time to time but you might spend quite a lot of time on the bench. A lot of players have a specialty. They are very good at defending or attacking. You have to be good at everything but it is often great to be excellent at one specific skill as this can help your team a lot. Probably another player on the team will have the same skill and you will have to compete for a position on the field with that player.

Step 5: age 26-40 years

At this point in your career, you are probably part of the starting lineup. You know a lot of the tricks and feel confident about your volleyball skills. You start to master the game. If you are really great, you might get selected for the Olympics. This is a big honor as each country sends its best players.

Playing volleyball professionally is very intense. Most players stop playing professional volleyball in their thirties as they feel that they are getting too slow. A lot of them become coaches so that they can still be involved in volleyball. 

To conclude, we can state that it takes a lot of time and dedication to become a professional volleyball player. You will have to deal with a lot of setbacks and emotions. A lot of players decide to quit as they feel that it is too much work. If you are really motivated, you can push through this adversity and become a professional player. Good luck and see you at the Olympics! We have discussed how much volleyball players earn here.