A Brief History of Volleyball

Early History of Volleyball: The First 50 Years

In this brief history of volleyball, discover who invented the game, and when the sport was introduced to numerous countries worldwide.

In 1895, William G. Morgan (1870-1942) was credited for creating the game of volleyball as a combination of four sports--basketball, baseball, tennis, and handball.

At the time, Morgan was an instructor at the Young Men's Christian Association which we know as the YMCA and was looking to develop an activity which had less physical contact than basketball that he could teach his classes of businessmen which were older gentlemen who preferred to play a sport with less physical contact.

Initially his rules of the volleyball game called for a net to be placed between two groups of any number of players who played for nine innings with three serves allowed for both teams each inning. 

Sounds almost like baseball, right?

Listen to this history about volleyball inventor William G. Morgan

Video created by Volleyball 1on1.com

With the exception of the first serve, hitting the volleyball into the net was considered a foul or the right for the other team to serve the ball which was called a "sideout."

Brief History of Volleyball: The Name Of The Volleyball Game

1896: Springfield College, formerly the International YMCA Training School was the site of the first official game of volleyball.

One observer after watching the ball "volley" back and forth over the net, suggested the name of the sport should be called "volleyball."

Brief History of Volleyball:
The Volleyball Ball

1900: A special ball was designed that was spherical, and made of leather and sometimes plastic for the sport. 

Some say that Spalding was responsible for creating the first official volleyball, while others dispute this fact indicating that they believe the ball was developed by someone else.

The Japanese volleyball ball used in the 1964 Olympics, consisted of a rubber carcass with leather panelling.  A similarly constructed ball is used in most modern competition.

The 2008 Summer Olympics Volleyball competitions brought the introduction of the new volleyball ball with a new moulding design making it more softened compared to the Mikasa MVP200.

Brief History of Volleyball: The Development of the Game

  • 1914 - Volleyball was introduced to France
  • 1916 - The NCAA was invited by the YMCA to aid in editing the rules and in promoting the sport. Volleyball was added to school and college physical education and intramural programs.
  • 1917 - Volleyball was introduced to Great Britain
  • 1917 - YMCA introduced volleyball to Mexico
  • 1918 - Yugoslavia, Czechoslavakia learn the volleyball game
  • 1920 - Soviet Union learns the game of volleyball

Brief History of Volleyball Rules 

  • 1917: The rules of the volleyball game were changed so that the winners were on the first team to score 15 points, instead of 21.

The first modern day spike was developed in the Phillipines where this particular skill was called the "Filipino bomb." 

  • 1928: Additional rules of the game were established as well as tournaments created when the United States Volleyball Association (USVBA, now USA Volleyball) was formed. With the creation of the USVBA, volleyball teams were formed with players who weren't members  of the YMCA allowing for the first time all-male non-YMCA teams to participate in the first US Open for volleyball.
  • 1930s: According to early accounts of the history about volleyball the first doubles team, consisting of two-men playing against two-men on the beach was played in Santa Monica, California.
  •  1934: National volleyball referees were first recognized and approved in the mid 1930s.
  • 1937: The U.S. Volleyball Association was officially recognized as volleyball's National Governing Body (NGB) in the United States at the Amateur Athletic convention held in 1937 in Boston.
  • 1947: In an effort to unite and formalize the sport under one entity several European national governing bodies worked together to create the Federation Internationale De Volley-Ball (FIVB) which was centered in Paris.

This video provides an account of the brief history of volleyball and

the role of the FIVB in the sports history.

  • 1949: The FIVB founded and organized the first World Championships tournament which was held in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
  • 1949: The USVBA decided to add a collegiate division, for competitive college teams. For the first ten years collegiate competition was sparse. 

Volleyball teams were formed by passionate students and instructors. Many teams dissolved when the interested individuals left the college.  Competitive teams were scattered, with no collegiate governing bodies providing leadership in the sport. 

Volleyball History:
Where Do You Go From Here?

Where do you need to go now? Here are three options: 

  1. Learn more about being a Volleyball Girl. 
  2. Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page Learning How To Play (Sitemap)
  3. Or visit the pages in the Varsity Volleyball Girl section in the drop down menu at the top of the page

Recent Links:

History of American Women in the Olympics

History 1950s -2000s

Brief History of Volleyball

  1. Improve Your Volleyball
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  3. History of USA Women in the Olympics
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  5. Brief History of Volleyball

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