Data from the International Volleyball Federation indicates that there are 46 million volleyball players in the USA. Worldwide there are more than 800 million people who play volleyball at least once a week.
If you compare volleyball to basketball or baseball, we can state that it is not that popular in the USA at the moment. In other countries, volleyball is actually a lot more popular and on the same level as baseball in the USA.
These countries have big competitions and famous volleyball players. Some of these players are real celebrities in their home country. Let’s take a look at the countries where volleyball is the most popular.
If we look at the number of followers of volleyball players on Instagram, we can state that volleyball is very popular in Indonesia and Brazil. These are countries with a big population so this can skew the results.
If we take a look at the most-watched volleyball games on Youtube, we can see that the national teams of Brazil, Russia, and Indonesia attract a lot of viewers.
Italy is a smaller country but a lot of people watch volleyball there as well. It has a long history and is able to attract a lot of players from smaller towns and cities as games are often broadcast on television.
Turkey also has a lot of supporters for volleyball games. Especially during the past decades, the local teams have invested a lot in salaries and they have been able to attract some of the best players in the world. This makes the game very spectacular to see and attracts more viewers.
The local media pays a lot of attention to the games and this attracts more viewers. This allows the clubs to invest even more so that they can make the games more spectacular. This positive spiral leads to further international success and makes the volleyball teams in Turkey amongst the best in the world. Given the current situation, we are seeing that players are going to other countries such as China instead.
Which countries have professional volleyball teams?
Volleyball is popular in several continents, such as Europe, Asia, Russia, and South America. Let’s take a look at which countries on these continents have competitions and professional volleyball teams. The best competitions are in Brazil, Turkey, Italy, and the Czech republic. These countries have the best performing teams and a lot of USA-based players decide to play there. Teams from these countries often win international competitions (such as the Champions League).
They are able to attract the best players from around the world as they pay the highest salaries and allow players to compete against the best in the world. A lot of professional athletes want to measure themselves up against other athletes to see how well they will perform against them. We have to note that not all of these countries have a competition for men and women but most do.
Countries that have professional volleyball competitions, also attract more players to their junior leagues as players can see it on TV and it also can be a career path. In some poorer countries, it can be a way to get fame and fortune and this can be very motivating for some newer players.
We have to note that some countries (such as the USA) don’t have a professional competition so their players have to play abroad. During the Olympics, which is a country teams-based competition, these countries can send in a team as they have players that participate in competitions abroad.
Italy: volleyball is very popular in Italy. It has one of the biggest competitions in the world. This country has a long history with volleyball and this often leads to success in the Olympics as well.
Belgium: Roeselare is a club in Belgium. They have played on a very high level for a long period of time and were able to compete in European competitions. Other clubs have bigger budgets but they are performing quite well.
-Czech republic: This small country has a lot of great volleyball players. The sport is very popular over there so they invest a lot in clubs. They can’t pay the highest salaries given that the country is small but the competition level is very high.
-China: China is quite new when it comes to volleyball competitions but they have invested a lot in it lately. They are able to attract a lot of great players and this rapidly increases the popularity of this sport.
-Japan: volleyball is very popular here and this can be partly explained by popular manga such as Haikyu! These cartoons are very entertaining and it introduces volleyball to a big group of people.
-Brazil: Brazil has won a ton of Olympic volleyball medals during the past decades. This makes the sport more popular and attracts more players. This leads to even better games and spectacular matches.
At the moment you don’t have a really big professional volleyball competition in the USA. Athletes unlimited is working on a new concept that can attract professional volleyball players. They are still refining the competition but it could have a very promising future.
To conclude, we can say that volleyball is popular all over the world. Some countries have professional leagues that play on a high level. Turkey, Italy, Brazil, and the Czech republic are often quoted as the countries with the best volleyball competitions. They play against each other in international competitions and often teams from these countries end up winning.
Volleyball is a mainstream sport in these countries and it is featured on TV and in journals so people are aware of who won the matches. In the USA volleyball still has to gain some traction as a professional sport but we see movements in a positive direction and new competitions are being created.
Beach volleyball is still being developed as well and the competitions are mainly located in South America as they have a great climate to play volleyball outside. This is harder in moderate climates such as Europe as you can only play outside for a few months.