Who is the best Olympic volleyball team? Surprising results

Every four years the Olympics are being organized. National teams have to compete to win this competition. Players of each nation often partake in a regular competition abroad but the Olympics are based on the nationality of the player. There is a competition for men and women. We also have one for indoor volleyball (with a team of six players on the court) and beach volleyball (with a team of two players on the court).

The winner can change every four years so we can look at the most recent winner to determine which team is the best. We can also look at the country that has won the most Olympic medals over time to check what team is very consistent. Let’s take a look at each of these and divide between men, women, indoor and beach volleyball to get a clear picture of which team is the best Olympic volleyball team.

The best indoor volleyball men Olympic team

The first time that volleyball was part of the Olympics was in 1964. This means that we only have had 15 editions where volleyball was being played. In the last Olympic volleyball tournament, the French team won the tournament and therefore received the gold medal. The Russian team won bronze and Argentina won the silver medal. You can watch the highlights of the final match between France and Russia below. You can notice that these teams play very fast.

There is not one country that is dominating this competition as several countries have already won the tournament over time. The Soviet Union (now Russia) has won it three times, the USA three times as well. Brazil won the tournament three times as well. In the other six editions of the Olympics another country won.

France, Japan, The Netherlands, Serbia and Montenegro, Poland are the other countries that have won. Despite having a lot of volleyball fans and a great volleyball tradition, Italy has not won the indoor volleyball game for men so far. They have earned several medals though and could win the tournament in the future.

Given these results, it is difficult to tell which team is the best as each country has its unique strengths and they have been able to use these and win the tournament. It is also important to note that volleyball has evolved over time, for example, the back row attack only got introduced later on. This has resulted in a lot of tense matches where teams had to compete for every point to win the match. It has been a while since Russia won the Olympics so we hope to see more from their front in the coming years. 

1964Soviet Union
1968Soviet Union
1980Soviet Union

The best indoor volleyball women Olympic team

Brazil won three consecutive tournaments between 2008 and 2016. They were the favorites again in 2021 but their dominance has been broken in the finals by the USA. This is quite surprising given that volleyball is more popular in Brazil but a lot of players of Team USA play in the best competitions (in Turkey, Italy, Korea, and Japan), allowing them to compete. 

You can rewatch this historic game here:

The other teams that have won the indoor volleyball Olympics tournament for women after Brazil, China, Cuba, Japan, and the former Soviet Union. We can state that Brazil has one of the strongest teams as they have won several times and were only defeated in the final during the last edition of the tournament.

It will be interesting to see if they can win the next edition in 2024. It has been a while since Japan won this tournament and Italy has never won it so far. This is quite surprising given how popular volleyball is in these countries and how many players they have. This really shows just how great the Brazilian team is. The team has some controversies such as allegations of unfair usage of certain supplements but this is just part of the story as the team just is playing very well together.

1968Soviet Union
1972Soviet Union
1980Soviet Union
1988Soviet Union

The best beach volleyball men Olympic team

Beach volleyball is a quite new Olympic sport as it has only been introduced in 1996. Therefore we don’t have a lot of matches to look back at. A Norwegian team won the last Olympics. In the past mainly teams from Brazil and the USA were able to win this tournament. There are only two players in this type of volleyball so if one of them retires, the team completely changes. This makes it harder to have continuity over time. Therefore it is difficult to tell which team is the best beach volleyball team at the Olympics. Countries can send in multiple teams for this competition and the composition of the teams changes quite a lot. Emanuel Rego is a legendary beach volleyball player as he has won a lot of medals during the Olympics. 

Year winner

The highlights of the final beach volleyball match in 2021 between Norway and Russia can be seen below. 

The best beach volleyball women Olympic team

Brazil, Australia, USA, and Germany have won this tournament. These countries are dominant in this type of sport with the USA and Brazil have won the most gold medals. Other countries (with the exception of China) are not able to keep up. This can be partly explained by the fact that the winning countries have warmer climates, allowing players to practice the whole year whereas other players can only play during certain months of the year. 


You can see the USA win the beach volleyball tournament in the latest edition of the Olympics below: 

2000New Zealand

To conclude, we can state that volleyball is mainly dominated by the USA and Brazil. In the past, the Soviet Union was doing quite well. It is surprising to see that some great volleyball nations such as Italy and Turkey are not really able to win a lot of games. Especially because volleyball is not that popular in the USA and they don’t even have a big professional volleyball circuit. The USA has a big population though so they can pick a lot of players. A lot of these players have played in Italy and Turkey and were able to perfect their skills there.

Brazil is a great volleyball nation and they have strong professional competition. They are able to recruit players for their Olympic team there. It is interesting to note that for male indoor Olympics there are a lot of winners and teams are more competitive, making it harder to predict who will win. Australia is nowhere in indoor volleyball but they can win beach volleyball games from time to time.