A Professional Volleyball Player Travels Worldwide

How Do American Players Play Professional Volleyball In Foreign Countries?

Three time Olympian Paula Weishoff has played in Italy, Brazil and JapanThree time Olympian Paula Weishoff has played in Italy, Brazil and Japan



A professional volleyball player has many options of where in the

world they want to compete to earn money these days.


After graduating college and depending on your talent, international

experience and playing ability, an indoor professional volleyball player

can be invited to play in a very faraway place like Russia or be recruited

to play in a locale that's a lot closer like Puerto Rico.


Both places offer the possibility of earning more than a decent salary.



With the growth of volleyball and the continued worldwide popularity

and organization of the sport, many different countries have organized

national professional leagues that allow a specific number of

foreign players to be recruited and paid to play with the best volleyball

players in their country's professional leagues.


Ideally, a professional volleyball player should get paid a decent salary

which can be based on a number of elements including their national

team experience, international playing experience, popularity,

and their volleyball agent or manager's ability to promote them

internationally and to negotiate a good deal with a good team that will

honor the terms of the contract.



How does a professional volleyball player get transferred to another country's pro league?



Usually the volleyball federation that is in the country where a

professional player calls home, gets paid a fee for the "loan" of

that player to the team they plan to play for.


The better and more well known the player is, the higher the fee their

national federation can request as payment for the loan of that player

to another country.


So, for example a professional volleyball player that just graduated from

college is lucky enough to find a team to play for professionally in Puerto

Rico, her "transfer" fee would probably be less than an Olympic

volleyball player who will go play on that same Puerto Rican

professional volleyball team.



How popular are the Americans who play professional volleyball overseas?


Kerri and Misty during the London OlympicsKerri and Misty during the London Olympics


This is because an Olympic volleyball player will play in front of a

worldwide crowd thanks to televised matches and thanks to the fact

that in many countries, volleyball is so popular that their local, national

and international matches are televised more than many of the

football, baseball, basketball and hockey matches are here in the

United States.


International and Olympic volleyball players, both male and female are

extremely popular in many countries outside of the United States.


Many have more fans than the NBA players here in the US, and they are

treated with the same level of hero worship that fans treat celebrities,

because they are considered sports celebrities in many countries

around the world.


Here's another example, three-time Olympian Paula Weishoff and I were

professional volleyball players playing on the Braglia Cucine Reggio

Emilia team in Italy.


I was a member of the US National Volleyball Team but Paula (now a

three-time Olympic player and one-time Olympic assistant coach) was

not only a Most Valuable Player in the 1984 Olympics but she had played

in two more of them.


Among American professional volleyball players, because of her

incredible athletic resume' Paula has had one of the

more expensive transfer fees that foreign teams have had to pay in

order for her to play professional volleyball in their country.



The Transfer Process



Recently the FIVB has made several changes to the "transfer" process

where now everything is done online instead of the traditional way of

doing everything on paper.


I remember that when I went to Italy each year I had to travel with all

these copies of all these federation and transfer papers to give to the

president and/or managers of the team I was going to play for.


Also, the FIVB will be the governing body of all transfers between

National Federations inside their Confederation.


For an American who's a professional volleyball player who wants to

start the online international transfer procedure, contact the best

person ever...USA Volleyball Manager of International Programs Carla

Hall at Carla.Hall@usav.org to request a username and password.


In my opinion, Carla Hall has to be one of the most well-informed people

when it comes to helping and assisting US volleyball players

who want to play professional volleyball abroad.


She helped me with all my transfers requests...from my first to my last.

I will always be grateful to Carla Hall.


For more information on the international transfer process check out:

FIVB Online Electronic International Transfer Manual.



A Pro Player's Contract



The contract for a professional volleyball player will usually include a

salary and living quarters which depending on how well a team knows

you or how good an agent/manager you have, can be negotiated so

that you share a place or have an apartment or house of your own.


I was a professional volleyball player in Italy for quite a while so I was

given my own apartment, my own house and I've shared a place with

one of my teammates, for use during the season I was contracted for.

I was also given the use of a car by the teams I played for.


My first year, thanks to professional volleyball player Elaine Roque I

played in Parma, Italy.


She called me to take her place on her team in Parma since she was

ready to come back to the United States.


I shared an apartment with UCLA middle blocker Merja Connolly.

After several years of living and playing in Italy and with the help of my

Italian fiance at the time, when I took the place of Peruvian Olympian

and Volleyball Hall of Fame Inductee Cecilia Tait on the Reggio Emilia

team to be the other foreigner along with three-time Olympian Paula

Weishoff, I had a huge apartment that had a lot of American amenities.


Of course our team's sponsor at the time was Braglia Cucine. "Cucine"

means kitchen in Italian, so you can imagine that I was blessed with

being given a large kitchen.


Depending on the country, the team, the sponsor and your agent,

a professional volleyball players usually will have the use of a car

included in the contract.


Unless a pro volleyball player's apartment is next door or close

to the gym, a car is needed to get to and from practice, shopping,

travelling to the airport and regular trips around town.



How long is a pro volleyball season overseas?



Professional volleyball players will live and compete for seven to nine

months out of the year in a foreign country. I've known many players

who embraced the fact that they had a chance to learn a new

language, a new culture and an opportunity to see the United States

the way other people see it, from outside of the country.


I know other pro volleyball players who were homesick and snuck off

and left their team before their contract was up.


That wasn't always the case but sometimes it happened.



Responsibilities and Professionalism



Pro volleyball players are required to help their team win. That may take

learning the culture, getting to know your teammates by speaking in

sign language or some kind of hybrid English until your coach, the

players and you understand each other.


That may take you playing in a volleyball position you've never played

before, but it definitely takes a person who is unafraid to step up into a

leadership position.


A professional volleyball player plays for money and not just for the

glory like they are used to doing in college.


What you do off the court, in your free time can become of interest to

the team organization, team fans and the city journalists and

gossipmongers who need to know what the local celebrities are doing,

because now, you are considered a local celebrity.


If your team is on a losing streak and as a "professional" volleyball player

you were seen partying in the pub on a regular basis the week before,

you can best believe that your actions may have an effect on whether

you get paid or not.


"Guaranteed" contracts are honored in the United States, but for a

professional volleyball players playing abroad, that isnt always the case.

As long as pro volleyball players conduct themselves professionally,

without giving the locals too many "off-the-court" things to talk about,

then usually things go well.  


The name of the game is to win.



Where in the world are American players going to play pro volleyball?



In 2013,  there were 173 female and 78 male Americans playing in

professional volleyball leagues worldwide.


Where in the world are the females playing? USA Volleyball reports that

24 females are in Switzerland, 23 females in Germany, 18 females in

France, 10 in Austria, 9 American men in Sweden, 8 men in Greece, 5

females and 4 males in Italy and 14 in Azerbaijian.


For the 2013-2014 season, American women are playing in 30 different

countries, while American men are playing in 23 different countries.


Note that the best of the best are recruited to play in Russia, Italy,

China, Japan, Brazil, Turkey and the new "hot place Azerbaijian.


Find out where in the world the American volleyball players are playing

on the USA Volleyball website.


Then come back and submit your story on your experience as a

professional volleyball player below.


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