The History of Volleyball

Originally known as Mintonette

Volleyball was originally called mintonette, created by William G. Morgan in 1895. The Massachusetts YMCA director took ideas from tennis and handball in order to make a game that was less rough than the newly founded game of basketball. There were few rules at first. There was no limit to how many players were allowed on each side of the court, which was 7.62 by 15.24 meters (25′ by 50′ feet) at that point. Additionally, the height of the net was only 1.83 meters (6’6 feet), though it is important to note that people were shorter back then. A comrade of Morgan’s commented that the players seemed to be volleying the ball back and forth over the net, and the name was changed to volleyball.

On July 7th, 1896, the first official game of volleyball was played at Springfield College. In 1900, a ball was made specifically for the sport. Since its creation, volleyball has changed many times over the course of its history. The following are some of the more important points in the history of the sport.

  • 1900-1905: The YMCA spreads volleyball to Canada, the Orient, the Southern Hemisphere, and Cuba.
  • 1907: Volleyball is presented at the Playground of America Convention as one of the most popular new sports.
  • 1916: In the Philippines, an offensive style of passing the ball in a high trajectory to be struck by another player (the set and spike) is introduced. The Filipinos developed the bomba or kill, and called the hitter a bomberino. Additionally, in this year the NCAA is invited by the YMCA to aid in standardizing the rules and in promoting the sport. Volleyball is added to school and college physical education as well as intramural programs.
  • 1917: The game is changed from 21 to 15 points.
  • 1920: Three hits per side and back row attack rules are instituted.
  • 1922: The first YMCA national championships are held in Brooklyn, NY. 27 teams from 11 states are represented.
  • 1928: It becomes clear that tournaments and rules are needed, the United States Volleyball Association (USVBA, now USA Volleyball) is formed. The first U.S. Open is staged and the field is open to non-YMCA squads.
  • 1930: The first two-man beach game is played.
  • 1934: Approval and recognition of national volleyball referees is implemented.
  • 1940’s: The forearm pass is introduced to the game (as a desperation play). Most balls had previously been played with the overhand pass.
  • 1946: A study of recreation in the United States shows that volleyball is ranked fifth among team sports being promoted and organized.
  • 1947: The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) is founded in Paris.
  • 1948: The first two-man beach tournament is held.
  • 1949: The first World Championships are held in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Additionally, the USVBA adds a collegiate division for competitive college teams. For the first ten years, collegiate competition is sparse. Teams form only through the efforts of interested students and instructors. Many teams dissolve when the interested individuals leave the college. Competitive teams are scattered, with no collegiate governing bodies providing leadership in the sport.
  • 1955: Pan American Games include volleyball for the first time.
  • 1957: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) designate volleyball as an Olympic team sport, to be included in the 1964 Olympic Games.
  • 1959: The International University Sports Federation (FISU) holds the first University Games in Turin, Italy. Volleyball is one of the eight competitions held.
  • 1960: Seven Mid-western institutions form the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA). Also, new techniques added to the game include the soft spike (dink), forearm pass (bump), blocking across the net, defensive diving and rolling.
  • 1964: The Southern California Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (SCVIA) is formed in California. Volleyball is introduced to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Japanese volleyball used in the 1964 Olympics consisted of a rubber bladder filled with air and lined with with leather paneling. A similarly constructed ball is used in most modern competition.
  • 1965: The California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) is formed.
  • 1968: The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) made volleyball their fifteenth competitive sport.
  • 1975: The US National Women’s team begins a year-round training regime in Pasadena, Texas. This is moved to Colorado Springs in 1979, Coto de Caza and Fountain Valley, CA in 1980, and San Diego, CA in 1985.
  • 1977: The US National Men’s team begains a year-round training regime in Dayton, Ohio. This is moved to San Diego, CA in 1981.
  • 1983: The Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) is formed.
  • 1984: The US wins their first medals at the Olympics in Los Angeles. The men take the gold, and the women the silver.
  • 1987: The FIVB adds a Beach Volleyball World Championship Series.
  • 1988: The US Men repeat the gold in the Olympics in Korea.
  • 1992: The Four Person Pro Beach League is started in the United States.
  • 1996: Two-person beach volleyball is added to the Olympics.

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