A lot of people have the dream of becoming a professional athlete. They might like the fame that comes with it, the adrenaline of winning, or the rewards that come from it. It all sounds very glamorous. We have discussed here that it is possible to become a professional volleyball player. If we are being realistic for a second, we have to say that not a lot of people make it. In football, for example, 0.00075% of the players that start playing make it to the pros. This is comparable to the chances of getting struck by lightning. Not all players that start have the ambition to become a professional player so you already have an advantage if you do but you will have to put in a lot of work and there might be some luck involved.
Complicating things further is the fact that there is no pro volleyball league in the USA at this point in time. Several companies are working on it though. Your best chance is to go abroad to Europe or Asia and become a professional volleyball player there. Needless to say that this requires a lot of sacrifices. Therefore we can say that it is possible to become a pro volleyball player but it is very hard to do so.
Is it hard to go pro in volleyball?
Professional volleyball players train almost every day of the week. They might not always train with a ball but they are always thinking about it. From lifting weights to studying other matches and discussing strategies, volleyball is always on their mind. This means that they are really motivated to get better at this sport and are willing to sacrifice a lot to do this. It might take years before you finally get there. Once you do, it often doesn’t last that long as most players only get there in their early twenties and retire in their thirties. This is not unique to volleyball but common amongst almost all high-intensity sports. Some sports such as bowling are more based on technique than physical and therefore you might be able to play these for a longer period of time. The good news is that you will learn a lot of useful skills during your pro career.
Let’s take a look at how Rachael Adams, an important player for Team USA became a professional player:
A lot of people end up becoming a coach, team manager, or very successful in business because they learned about discipline and how to manage a team. These are essential skills that can give you further success in life. Therefore it is not a big issue that you have to retire from professional sports quite early in life but this opens doors to new opportunities.
Is there a professional league for volleyball?
Despite the fact that the USA women’s team did very well during the Olympics, volleyball is still not that popular in the USA. Not a lot of people know the sport. At the moment there is no professional volleyball league in the USA but some companies are working on starting one so we might see one pop up in the coming years. For example, Athletes Unlimited is working on a new concept that will allow professional volleyball players to participate in a competition in the USA. We will have to see if it can become as popular as the NBA and be broadcast on TV as well. You can find a lot of matches on Youtube and it is very entertaining to watch as volleyball can be quite spectacular. If the USA Olympic volleyball teams keep performing, we should be able to get more attention to volleyball and this could result in a new league. It also took a long time before the NBA took off so we could see the same with a professional volleyball league.
Professional players have to go to Latin America (for example Brazil) Asia (for example Japan) or Europe (for example Italy) if they want to participate in a professional league. Volleyball is very big in these countries and players can do quite well for themselves. They have pro leagues for men and women there. This allows players to practice volleyball every day. Given that you have to live on a different continent, not a lot of players from the USA participate in these competitions. You have to be really dedicated if you want to join these competitions as a USA-based player because you have to leave your family and friends to play volleyball in another country. The level in these competitions is also very high so not a lot of players are able to join them.
Rachael Adams for example won a medal during the volleyball Olympics for the USA. She played in competitions in Poland, Turkey, Italy, and Brazil. This already indicates that professional volleyball players have to be willing to travel during their careers and have to be willing to live abroad. This has a big impact on their lives. She was able to play at the University of Texas (Austin) when she studied but to become a pro she had to go to Poland to join a professional league.
Know what you are in for
In TV shows and movies, it looks very cool to be a pro athlete. In reality, however, it takes a lot of effort to do so. You have to be aware of the ups and downs before you start your volleyball career. If you think that you will get there without any struggles, you will be disappointed. A lot of people start out with unrealistic expectations and think that everything will be given to them because they showed up. Showing up is just the first step. You will have to put in the work and be willing to perform the same drills over and over again until you finally get the hang of them. This is often very repetitive and you might not want to do them but you have to if you want to get better at playing volleyball. Professional players are spending a lot of time improving their serve. This means throwing the ball over the net, again and again, to just be able to improve their ball handling by a small fraction.
Volleyball players also have to travel a lot and spend a lot of time on the road. This can be a challenge as you don’t have a lot of time to sleep or rest during these trips. This is very intense and you won’t have time for family or friends during these periods. It is all about you, your team members, and the game at that point in time.
Find the right coaches
You will have to find the right coaches if you want to get a professional player. How do you know if you have a great coach? This person already has had success with other players. A proven track record is the best proof that the coach knows what he or she is doing. These coaches might be more expensive or can be harder to get to but are often worth it. A coach that has never trained professional players often doesn’t know the nuances of doing so. Therefore finding the right coach is essential if you want to become a pro athlete. Most athletes have multiple coaches that each work on an aspect of their game. This makes sure that you are working with experts that can push you to the next level.
Let’s take a look at how a great coach explains a drill:
Should I even give it a try?
Yes, it is possible if you really want to get there. Volleyball is also a lot of fun to play and you can learn other important career skills such as managing a team and communication. You will never have to regret it later in life if you give it a try. A lot of people are sad because they gave up on their pro careers too early. You will have to face a lot of headwinds and setbacks if you want to get there. If you are really driven, you will have to keep leveling up your game and keep improving. It is a real grind but can be very rewarding.
You can divide up your goal into multiple smaller steps. For example, a first step can be to participate in a tournament. The next step can be to win a few matches in a row. These small steps build upon each other and you will start to see a lot of progress over time if you stick to it. Small, incremental steps lead to big outcomes.
To conclude, we can say that it is very hard to become a professional volleyball player. It takes a lot of work and years of dedication before you can finally get there. The chances that you are able to do this are quite small but it is worth the try. At the moment you don’t have a pro volleyball league in the USA but hopefully, this changes soon. As the Olympic games have shown, it can be very rewarding to win a medal if you are at the top of your sport. You have to think for yourself about how committed you are to get there. If you don’t want to put in all this effort, you can also just enjoy playing volleyball as it is a great sport that will teach you a lot about life and yourself. It takes a special type of focus if you want to get really great at volleyball. This means that you will have to say no to a lot of things and not everyone wants to do that.
Professional volleyball players have a lot of advantages so it can be worth trying it.