Volleyball is not that popular in the USA. Professional players have to go abroad to countries such as Italy, Turkey, Japan, China, South Korea, or Russia if they want to make a decent living from volleyball.
Highest paid male and female volleyball players in the world
In a lot of sports, there is a Pareto rule in terms of earnings. This means that the top 20% of players make 80% of the money. New players often only earn about 40k USD per year. Experienced players can make up to 500k per year, with some making more than 1 million.
The other players earn anything in between as the contracts are negotiated on an individual basis. If players have demand from multiple clubs, they can use this as leverage to negotiate better salaries. Especially in Russia and China players can earn a lot as there is a limit on how many foreign players they can have per team. These teams, therefore, invest a lot in attracting these players.
Players also can get a bonus when their team wins a tournament or championship. These bonuses are not always public so the data that we have around this might be lower than what players earn in reality.
A lot of players also get sponsorships or get paid for appearances. This can easily double the official salary of the player. Volleyball is not that popular in the USA at the moment so the players get fewer sponsorships than NBA or NFL players.
Beach volleyball players often have to live off the prize money as there are fewer teams for this.
Let’s take a look at the best-paid volleyball players and what they earn per year. Note that these are estimates.
The story of Wilfredo Leon is remarkable as he was able to climb out of abject poverty in Cuba to be the best-paid volleyball player in the world. The following video can give you an idea of why he is the best-paid volleyball player overall:
|Gabrielle Reece||1.14 million USD|
|Wilfredo Leon||1.4 million USD|
|Earvin Ngapeth||1.35 million USD|
|Ekaterina Gamova||1.4 million USD|
|Bartosz Kurek||1.1 million USD|
Some of these players have retired recently but it can give a general idea of what can be earned in volleyball. A lot of these are players in Japanese, Russian and Italian teams.
We can see that male players earn more money and this is quite typical amongst a lot of sports. There can be a lot of discussion around these topics but we just report the data.
This might sound like very high amounts per year but if you compare it with James Lebron who earns more than 40 million USD per year from his salary alone or Tom Brady that made similar amounts in the NFL. These players also get bigger sponsorships.
Therefore they can earn up to 100 times more than professional volleyball players. This indicates how big the difference in popularity is between these sports in the USA and the world.
Volleyball players often retire once they are in their mid-thirties. This gives them about 10 years to earn money from this sport. Given that the players are not paid much during the first few years of their careers, they only get the salaries for a few years in their life.
It can set them up for life but most players have to keep working after their career. A lot of them become coaches or work in the volleyball ecosystem.
How much do professional volleyball players make per month?
To calculate this, we just divide their annual earnings by 12. Players often have long-term contracts and when this is renewed, they can negotiate about their annual wage. This often involves a lot of discussions as players can have multiple offers and the market for the best players is quite competitive.
Gabrielle Reece is one of the best-paid volleyball players. This is mainly due to her other talents but she has learned a lot from playing volleyball as well.
If we look at the data from above and see what these players earn per month.
|Gabrielle Reece||92000 USD|
|Wilfredo Leon||116000 USD|
|Earvin Ngapeth||100000 USD|
|Ekaterina Gamova||116000 USD|
|Bartosz Kurek||91000 USD|
If we again compare this with James Lebron, we can see that he earns 4 million USD per month from his salary alone.
Gabrielle Reece is now retired but she was able to leverage her fame from volleyball in other careers as well. This has allowed her to live a comfortable life that she has worked very hard to achieve.
How much do professional volleyball players make per game?
To calculate this, we just divide their annual salary by the number of games that the players have played. This can fluctuate per year as teams can get kicked out of tournaments if they lose.
Therefore there can be some variation in this number. It is also possible that competitions have fewer teams and this results in fewer matches. There are also friendly matches at the beginning of the season.
If we look at the data from above with the assumption that players have 50 games per year.
|Name||Salary per game|
|Gabrielle Reece||25000 USD|
|Wilfredo Leon||28000 USD|
|Earvin Ngapeth||27000 USD|
|Ekaterina Gamova||280000 million USD|
|Bartosz Kurek||22000 USD|
Let’s take a look at some of the actions of Ekaterina Gamova:
When they are not able to play, these players are often paid anyway as they are paid a yearly salary. However, they can earn additional bonuses but these depend on the contract that was signed with the team. For example, some players get a bonus per game that they won.
Volleyball is a team sport so there are fewer individual bonuses. Players have to play together. If you give them a bonus per point that they have scored, they might be inclined to try to score themselves instead of passing to a team member.
Volleyball is becoming more popular in the USA. The victory of Team USA in the Olympics has made the sport more interesting and it is attracting newer players. There are also experiments with new professional competitions.
This could increase the earnings of the players in the coming decades. We see that the salaries for the best players are increasing over time. It is possible that we will see a sudden increase in their salaries.
To conclude we can state that volleyball players earn a decent living. Some of them make millions per year and this can be life-changing for them. In most instances, players still have to work after their volleyball career is over. They often become a trainer or become active in the volleyball ecosystem to keep a connection with the game itself.