How to start learning volleyball (tips for beginning players).

Volleyball is an approachable sport because you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. Especially if you join a club, you only need shoes, a shirt, pants and knee pads. So if you go to the first training and you are still unsure if it is something for you, sporting shoes should do. You can use these for other indoor sports as well so going to a volleyball training to see if it is something for you is not a big commitment as you won’t have to invest a lot of time. Most clubs allow you to go for free if you want to give it a try.  Later on, you can invest in other gear such as sporting socks but normal socks will do if you are just starting out. Let’s discuss step by step how you can start out learning volleyball.

1/ Get a general idea of the rules

The rules in volleyball can get quite complex but you just need a general idea of how volleyball is played to get started. You have to make sure that the ball doesn’t touch the ground on your side of the net. To score a point, the ball has to hit the floor in the field of your opponent. The ball shouldn’t go outside of the court. You can’t hold the ball but have to keep it in the air. It is only allowed to touch the ball 3 times when it is on your side. These are the main rules and should set you up for success. Once you start playing, you will learn more about rotations and liberos, and so on. These are hard to explain but become easy when you see them in action. Therefore it can be great to watch volleyball games on TV or Youtube if you want to get the hang of it.

2/ Find a club in your area

A lot of schools have a volleyball club. Search in your area what sports arenas have a volleyball club and contact them. You might be needed to contact several clubs before you find one that you like. Every club has its own identity and you can see what fits with you. Some clubs are more laid back whereas others focus on winning competitions. It depends on your personal goals and what you want out of volleyball. The driving distance is also an important factor when you want to pick a volleyball club. If you have to drive a few hours every time to go to a meeting, you will spend a lot of time on the road as you probably will have to train two times every week and play the one match as well. This is something to consider if you pick your club. You can ask them if you can attend your first training for free to see if it is something for you.

Photo by Stephen Baker on Unsplash

3/ Get your gear together

For your first training, you only need decent sporting shoes, a shirt, and pants. Other equipment such as knee pads and sporting socks can be bought once you are certain that you want to play volleyball. Make sure that your hair is kept in place with elastics or something similar as it is hard to play when your hair is going in all different directions. 

4/ Attend the training

Your first training might be quite overwhelming as you have to get to know a lot of people, discover the sports arena and learn the new drills. In some clubs, they assign a player to you that has to help you out. You can also ask the coach questions if you have them. Volleyball players support each other as it is a real team sport so in most instances everyone will be very friendly and supportive. They understand that you are new and know that they can’t expect that you know everything already. They were beginners not that long ago as well. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake as everyone does so. Accept what happened and try to learn from it so that you don’t do the same thing next time. At the end of the day, volleyball is all about having fun and enjoying the game. 

Let’s take a look at how a great coach explains a drill:

5/ Practice, practice, practice

Volleyball requires a lot of practice. You won’t become a great player if you don’t spend years on it. Therefore you will have to attend a lot of training, have to practice at home and with friends if you want to improve. 

There are 5 main movements that you have to get good at serving, setting, digging, passing, and smashing. Serving is launching the ball from behind your own field inside the field of the opponent. Setting is giving an assist to another player that has to push the ball over the net. Digging is diving to get the ball just before it hits the ground. This can be quite spectacular as some players really jump quite far to get the ball. This is the main reason why volleyball players wear knee pads. Since this is an advanced technique, you will probably only learn this later on.

Passing is giving the ball to another player on your team. There is the underhand and overhand pass and each has its own approach. Smashing, finally, is hitting the ball over the net with quite a lot of force while still being able to aim the ball in the desired direction. 

You will learn this one at a time so don’t feel overwhelmed. After a few tries, you will already understand the basics. It can take a lot of practice to get all the nuances right.  

6/ Become a volleyball star

It is possible to become a professional volleyball player if that is your ambition. You can even go to the Olympics. At the moment there is no national volleyball league in the USA so you might have to go to Europe or Asia if you want to become a professional volleyball player. This could change in the near future though as volleyball is rapidly becoming more popular. 

Let’s take a look at a day in the life of a pro volleyball player:

You will have to go to tryouts and might have to work with a personal trainer if you want to get there. A lot of volleyball players want to become professional players but not a lot of people are able to get there. 

To conclude, we can state that volleyball is an approachable sport to get started. You don’t need a lot of gear and you can learn the rules as you go. A lot of clubs have special programs for new players so that they get introduced to the sports in a very step-based manner. This makes sure that you evolve quite fast without feeling overwhelmed. It can take some time before you feel that you master all the techniques and rules but you can learn them step by step. Don’t get discouraged if it takes some time before you start to understand how it works, this is completely normal and you will get there over time.