Should I get elbow pads for volleyball? Surprising results

Volleyball players often wear a piece of fabric on their arms. People often think that these are elbow pads but they are arm sleeves. Arm sleeves don’t have padding to reduce an impact whereas elbow pads do have this. Elbow pads are mainly worn by younger players that are still learning how to dive and might be afraid to land hard. Arm sleeves are also worn by more experienced players but they have a different function. They absorb sweat, can help to recover faster after a game, and make it easier to slide over the floor. While they make look similar elbow pads and arm sleeves are quite different.  Let’s discuss this in more detail.

Do volleyball players need elbow pads?

You don’t need elbow pads to play volleyball but they can help beginning players. Professional volleyball players almost never wear elbow pads. Newer players wear them from time to time for the same reason as why people wear knee pads. If you want to go for a ball that almost hits the ground, you can dive for the ball. This could result in a hard landing if you don’t time it well. Therefore some players wear elbow pads to break the fall.

I don’t like wearing them as they affect my passes and serves. Other players swear by them as they feel that it provides a lot of protection while they are digging for a difficult ball. To each, their own but in general not a lot of volleyball players wear elbow pads as they feel that it impacts their playing style. More advanced players will remark that you have to improve your diving skills when you wear elbow pads as it might mean that you are using the wrong posture when you go for the ball.

You have to learn how to land properly so that you don’t hurt your elbows. This can be done by repeating the following drill: you throw the ball in front of yourself and have to keep it in the air with an underhanded pass. You start by throwing it close by and gradually you throw it further. After a while, you will have to dive to keep the ball in the air. The following video provides insights into how you jump and land. 

This means that there are not a lot of elbow pads on the market that have been designed for volleyball. Therefore you have to look at ones that are not designed specifically for volleyball. These might still do the job and help reduce the impact. Some players want to make sure that they don’t have a hard landing on their elbows so there is nothing wrong with wearing these. They don’t look too distinct from arm sleeves. Just some elbow padding is added. In most instances, foams are used but sometimes gel is added as well.

The gel might reduce the impact more but it is less flexible so this makes it harder to play with. Therefore I would go with foam padding if I had to choose. It is important to make sure that it is comfortable to play with. Some elbow pads that are designed for direct contact sports might have too much padding to be easy to work with. It is also important that they are able to deal with sweat well as it can get hard to keep them on for a whole game if they get wet quite fast. 

Players do use knee pads as you have to land quite often and hard on your knees. Almost every player wears this as you will land on your knees when you jump to get a ball. This is not needed for beach volleyball as the floor is quite soft and you can land in the sand.

One situation during which arm pads might be worn is by players that have a match on a hard surface such as concrete. In this situation, arm pads can help to reduce the impact and make sure that it is fun to play. 

Do liberos wear elbow pads?

Liberos are defensive players that have to jump and dive a lot. This means that they land on their knees and arms quite often. If we take a look at professional and advanced volleyball players, we will see that almost no liberos wear elbow pads. They have an advanced diving technique that allows them to land on their knees and body.

This means that they don’t land on their elbows and therefore don’t need elbow pads. The problem with elbow pads is that they are quite bulky and they can make it hard to pass. Elbow pads are often used as a crutch by people that don’t use the right diving technique. Therefore it is essential that you learn how to dive properly so that you don’t land on your elbows.  

A libero should already be close to the ground when he or she receives the ball with a roll or dolphin dive. This makes sure that you don’t hit the floor too hard with your elbows. The problem that a lot of players have is that they dive too late and this makes that they are not able to lower their body early enough and hit the ground quite hard.

This can only be improved by training the dive over and over again. For a lot of players, it is just something that they need to get used to over time. Once they notice that they don’t land hard on their elbows, they might stop wearing the elbow pads. 

To conclude we can say that elbow pads are not needed to play volleyball. These are mainly worn by newer players that still need to learn how to dive properly. You have to learn a lot of skills in volleyball and it can be overwhelming for newer players.

They might want to focus on the five basic skills before they start learning how to dive. Therefore some players wear elbow pads to get started. More advanced players don’t wear this as they have perfected their diving technique and might feel that arm pads are restricting their movement. Arm sleeves are worn by a lot of volleyball players. Unlike arm pads, these don’t contain padding and are easy to wear.