Why is volleyball considered a team sport? Surprising facts!

While you can practice volleyball on your own, training and competition are in general played in teams. You need players on one side of the net and also a group of players on the other side of the net. The court is quite large so playing with only one or two players on each side of the net makes it too hard to play. Therefore volleyball is played with 6 players on each side of the net. This makes sure that the ball can move from one side of the field to the other quite fast. Furthermore, each player has a role on the team so that it is possible to defend and attack in an efficient manner.

Why you need a team to play volleyball

In volleyball, you typically have to catch the ball, pass it, and then finally push the ball over the net. This means that multiple players are needed to first defend and then attack. You can’t do everything on your own in volleyball as defending often means that you catch the ball close to the ground. You have to bring the ball higher and then you can finally bring the ball over the net. In some sports, such as basketball, you can score points all by yourself. In volleyball, this is not really the case as you very often need to pass to your team member to be able to score a point given that the ball often is quite low when you can intercept it. The rules state that you can only get a maximum of 3 touches (each time by a different player) when the ball is on your side of the court. You are not obliged to use all 3 touches but these make it possible to make your attack quite unpredictable. You can try to score directly but the team on the other side of the net can probably see what is going on and can defend quite easily. 

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

You are not allowed to hold the ball or touch the ball 2 times in a row so you have to pass it to your team members. In a lot of other sports, you can hog the ball and try to break the defense of your opponents by yourself. This is not the case in volleyball as you can’t hold the ball or can’t touch it multiple times. 

An exception on this is when you are blocking the ball. This means that you stop the ball just after the net and send it back to the opposing team. In this instance, you don’t touch the ball 3 times as you just bounce the ball back to the other side of the field.

Different roles: offense and defense

In volleyball, every player has a specific role and this depends on the position on the field. Some players have to serve, whereas other players need to dive (or dig) to get the ball, other players have to smash to score points. This makes you appreciate the work that another player is doing as it is almost impossible to score points on your own in volleyball. You often need to work together to achieve something. This is also the reason why volleyball players often cheer after every point. 

Players are standing in two rows: one just behind the net and one after this. Players rotate over the court during the match.

Players rotate over the court during the match. Made with Canva.

Volleyball players often play together for several years so they start to know each other’s weak and strong points. This can create very deep bonds as you go through a lot of wins and losses together and you also learn to know each other on a personal level. This can make the team very tight. If a new player enters the team, he or she might feel that she is not really welcomed at first. The new player might not know the habits or the small inside jokes that are being made. Therefore it can take quite some time before that person gets accustomed to the new group. It can be helpful to ask another player to help you to integrate into the group. If you don’t make an effort to become part of the group, you will probably leave as you won’t have a lot of fun. Some players might loathe the outsider and be annoyed that someone else is joining the team. It is also possible that you are competing for a place on the team with another player and that might annoy some players. You have to be certain to take the team dynamics into account if you join a team that has been playing together for a long period of time. 

Team dynamics: fun and drama

Volleyball players are just human so we enjoy having a deep connection with other humans. Volleyball can provide this as you train hard together and have to deal with a lot of challenges. Volleyball is a difficult sport to master and you have to practice a lot to improve. Your team members can help you and push you through difficult moments. Sometimes you will make mistakes and if your team is there to support you, it will be easier to move forward after this. Growing together to improve your volleyball skills is an important part of the game. If there is a healthy team dynamic, this will allow everyone to bond together and feel a lot of friendship.

Sometimes there can be a conflict between the players. A good coach will notice this and make sure that this is discussed. Sometimes small understandings or frustrations can boil over if they are not discussed. Therefore it is important that the coach is checking in and thinking about how the dynamic is between different players. If you don’t trust each other, the team will suffer as you won’t be able to make the combinations in a fluent manner. 

There are some drills that can improve this team dynamic:

Working together

Since volleyball is a team sport, it is important that you communicate well with other players on the field. If you don’t have a lot of experience of playing together, you can decide that you will shout if you catch the ball. This makes sure that you don’t run into each other or dig for the same ball. It is easy to drop the ball if you think that a team member will dive for it and that team member thinks that you will go for it. If you have played together for a long period of time, you start to know each other and often don’t have to shout anymore when you plan to go for the ball. These small communication tricks can really help a team out and make sure that you are on the same page when it comes to what happens next. 

To conclude, we can say that volleyball is a real team sport as you need to work together to be able to score points as you can only touch the ball once during each play. Therefore you have to pass it to your team members. It is important that you anticipate how your team members will react to your passes. Volleyball teams often play together for a long time so players often have a strong bond and get to know each other’s habits and preferences. Joining a new team can therefore be quite challenging and take quite some time before you are fully part of it.

Showing that you are a team

Volleyball players wear the same color of jersey during the game (with the exception of one player). You also try to wear the same color of shoes, socks, and elbow pads. This makes sure that you look the same as other players and there are no small details that make one player stand out. Since everyone looks the same, you feel part of the group and this is a boost for the team morale. Most teams wear bright colors (such as red or blue) and this makes them look very good together.