Updated: May 29, 2015
Volleyball Reviews:Volleyball and the beach are as American as apple pie and ice cream - and a whole lot better for your body. An intensely physical game, volleyball actually began as a less rough past time for older members of the Holyoke, Massachusetts YMCA. In 1895, YMCA physical education director William G. Morgan needed a game that could be played indoors, by any number of players. He needed it to be less physically demanding than the new fad of basketball, which had been developed just a few years before. He came up with Mintonette. Morgan's game was a pretty forgiving version of today's competitive volleyball - players were allowed a serving re-try and there was no limit on the number of ball contacts for each team before they put it over the net - but it laid the groundwork for what would become one of the most popular sports in the world. Today, volleyball is still played indoors - and still played at the YMCAs where it was born - but it is also played quite frequently on the beach or on grass. While official leagues require teams of six to take the court, all a friendly pickup game needs is a few players, a net, and, of course, the ball.
Choosing the Volleyball Ball- If you play volleyball, you know the ball isn't just any ball. When you're playing in your backyard, you can use anything you want - kids have even been known to use balloons. But the material from which the ball is made, as well as its design, is important. Not only do leagues have rules regarding the ball, but it makes a difference to your own comfort and ability to control ball movement. So what should you be demanding from your volleyball ball?
*Are you going to be playing indoors or out? If you are playing inside, you'll find that there are balls designed specifically for this type of play. The outer cover of these balls is made of leather. This allows players to have a terrific feel for the ball. But what happens when you wear your leather boots out in the rain? Not good, right? It's the same with leather volleyballs. Outside, they are vulnerable not only to rain, but to dew or high humidity. If you plan to play outdoors, choose a synthetic material that mimics leather. You'll get the right type of feel (not exactly like leather, but good enough). The benefit is that it will be weather-proof.
*Do you need to meet standard regulations? Again, for a casual backyard game, who cares if the ball is exactly 65 to 67 centimeters in circumference? If you want to conform to the standards set by the FIVB, or the Federation Internationale de Volleyball, you'll need a ball with those measurements. Weight needs to be between 260 and 280 grams, with an inside pressure of 0.30 - 0.325 kg/cm2. Your league may have specific requirements, so make sure to ask before you purchase your equipment.
*What are the top brands? Wilson, Spalding (who, according to some historians, created the first official volleyball in 1896), Mikasa, Tachikara, and Molten (maker of official NCAA and USA volleyballs) are all excellent brands with long histories of providing outstanding volleyball equipment.
Let's take a look at some of the best volleyballs so you can get a great idea of what to look for and how much to pay. You can browse the best selling volleyballs here.