You won’t get great in volleyball at volleyball overnight. It takes a lot of training and practice before you improve. We can say that in general, it will take 8 to 10 years to get really great at volleyball. At this point, you are still learning a lot but you should be able to beat most players and you probably know all the rules by then.
This might sound like a long time but most volleyball players are active in a team for over two decades. All these years of experience add up. The youngest Olympic volleyball player was 19 when she was allowed to join an Olympic game. She had over a decade of experience and could play at the highest level. It also depends on how often you train by yourself.
If you do daily drills and improve your ball handling, you will progress a lot faster than people who only train once or twice every week. Let’s discuss the progress that most players make over time. Some might evolve faster than others but this is the typical pattern that you will see. Not everyone starts at the same age and that is OK. You start when you start.
The first year of playing volleyball: starting out
When you get started everything is new: from the gear that you wear, the rules of the game to how you have to play in a team. You will have to learn all these basics and you will probably make some mistakes. It is possible that you will touch the ball twice in a row or hold it instead of pass it. All this is part of learning the game. You will probably be nervous to participate in your first match and make mistakes there as well.
You will learn the five basic skills in volleyball: spiking (pushing the ball over the net), serving (throwing the ball over the net while you stand behind the court), blocking (defense just behind the net), setting (giving an assist) and digging (diving to keep the ball in the air after the other team has sent it on your part of the court). These offensive and defensive moves will take a lot of time to master as they take several steps to execute.
Year 2-5 of playing volleyball
At this point in time, you should start to master the basic rules. You also start to get a hang of the five basic skills. Your ball handling technique is getting better so you won’t drop the ball that often anymore.
It is easier to communicate with other members of the team so they know that you will pass to them. This is the point that volleyball really starts to be fun as you are not struggling with the basics anymore but you start feeling that you know something. From time to time you get a reality check as you get beaten by stronger opponents. Pick yourself up, and train again to get better.
Year 5-7 of playing volleyball
You are already mastering the basics. Now it is time to learn more about advanced tactics. You can use different patterns to attack. You will learn to ‘read’ how your opponent is playing and you can adjust your strategy to this.
At this point, it is less about learning how to deal with the ball and more about how to deal with the other team and your own team. This requires another level of thinking and can be quite challenging to learn at first. You can check professional matches on Youtube and see how they play.
Your coach can offer drills to improve your ball-handling skills but you already feel confident when the ball is coming your way.
Year 8-15 of playing volleyball
You can take your volleyball game to the next level by this point. You have to be able to deal with different ways of attacking and defending. Based on how the other team is playing, you can adjust your strategy. It is also possible to play against teams that have different playing styles, from very defensive to very offensive.
The ball can go back and forth a lot before your team or the other team is scoring. You are used to playing matches and are not nervous about this anymore. You are still working on improving some points of your game but you can add value to any team.
Year 15-25 of playing volleyball.
You will be a professional volleyball player or be very good at it. All this experience makes it easy for you to perform the basics in volleyball and you don’t have to think about the rules anymore. Your team is probably a well-oiled machine as you have been playing together for a long time. It is possible that things start to get too predictable and boring.
You can switch things up by joining another team to keep it challenging. You can also decide to join some beach volleyball tournaments as there are some differences and similarities between indoor and beach volleyball. It can be a lot of fun to see how well you are doing in another environment. This can reignite your passion for volleyball and push you to train harder.
Year 25+ of playing volleyball.
Most volleyball players stop in their late twenties as it gets harder to play volleyball at this age as you become less agile. Often players become a coach once they are at this point of their career. This makes sure that they can remain active in the volleyball community without having to play themselves.
Even professional players often end their career in their mid-thirties as they feel that they are getting slower. Some players keep playing until they are in their forties so it depends on the preference of the player to see how long they keep going.
To conclude, we can state that it can take over a decade to get really great at volleyball. You have to master a lot of skills, be able to communicate well with your team, and understand how the opposite team will react. All of these things take time and you will be able to stack these skills over time.
Some players have been active in a volleyball club for over two decades so don’t expect that you can beat them after a month of training. Professional volleyball players often start in their early twenties but have already played more than fifteen years by that point.