Surprisingly, one of the world’s most beloved sports is also relatively young. Despite the game’s youth, it has gone through a wide variety of changes and evolutions as part of its rich history.
Believe it or not, but there was a time when there were no Asics or Nike women’s volleyball shoes, or even volleyball uniforms for sale anywhere, let alone online!
To fully understand and appreciate how much the game has changed and how much work went into making it successful, you need to look to the very origin of volleyball and study when and why the changes were made.
Just over 100 years ago, in 1895, William G. Morgan developed the first game of volleyball. At the time, Morgan nicknamed the game “Mintonette”. “Mintonette” was created for businessmen as a game that involved less physical contact at the YMCA chapter where he worked in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Morgan borrowed aspects from various games to create his own game. The first aspect was tennis, borrowing the net. However, instead of the standard net, he raised it to 6 feet 6 inches tall, so he was just above the heads of average men. Other sports he borrowed include basketball, baseball, and handball. During one of the sport’s demonstration games, one of the spectators commented that the game was more about volleying, and the name of the game was changed to Volleyball.
That was just the beginning.
In 1896, the first official volleyball game was played at Springfield College. This game marked the first real takeoff for the sport, and led to more games being played at a variety of different universities. By the early 1900s, volleyball had taken off enough to design a special ball just for the game. Another feat also accomplished in 1900 was that the YMCA brought the sport from America to Canada, the Orient, and the southern hemisphere. Five years later, Volleyball also spread to Cuba. This diffusion was what meant the beginning of the Volleyball era. Unlike most sports, volleyball moved internationally in its early days, allowing the game to evolve to meet the needs of players around the world.
In 1907, volleyball received its first recognition as one of the most popular sports at the Playground of America convention. This was the first recognition the sport received and helped increase its popularity. Over the next ten years, the YMCA continued to promote the sport in Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay. In 1913, the first official Volleyball competition was held at the Far Eastern Games.
1916 saw Volleyball have its first true evolution. In the Philippines, the set and spiked offensive pass was introduced, and the game was modified to include this new form. The Filipinos developed the “bomba”, which is to kill, and called the batter “bomberino”. In the same year, the YMCA invited the NCAA to modify the rules of the game, and it began in colleges and other schools as part of standard physical education courses and intramural programs. A year later, the scoring system was also adjusted so that a game ended after 15 points instead of 21. This allowed more games to be played in the same amount of time, in an attempt to make the sessions a bit shorter. for the players.
Three short years later, in 1919, the American Expeditionary Forces donated 16,000 volleyballs to the troops, providing a stimulus for growth in foreign countries. With this increase in the growth of the sport, new rules began to be developed. A year later, the three-hit-a-side rule and back-row attacking rules were put into effect.
By 1928, players and fans of the sport realized that “official” tournament rules and regulations were required. The United States Volleyball Association was formed and the first US Open Volleyball tournament was held. The US Open allowed squads that were not sanctioned by the YMCA to participate, which was a huge development at the time. This evolution allowed sports fans to fully enjoy the game without being tied to the organization that created it.
After 1928, the game of volleyball was forever changed. With “official” rules in place and a tournament that was not private to the YMCA, the popularity of the sport skyrocketed. The men’s US Open was held every year thereafter, with the exception of three years. 1943, 1944 and 1989 did not have the annual tournaments, due to wars and other obstacles.
In 1934, volleyball underwent another big change through the recognition of official referees to supervise the games. This particular change drastically altered the calls and fairness of the game.
The 1940s held several special events for volleyball. Not only was the forearm pass introduced into the game, but the first volleyball world championship was also held. It was during this time that the volleyball movement came to fruition and teams from all over the world were able to figure out who was the best. This became an annual event, allowing for more publicity for the sport, which helped its growth. At that time, more than 50 million people were playing around the world, in more than 60 different countries.
By 1964, volleyball had become widespread enough to justify its introduction into the Olympic games. The first games took place in Tokyo, where a rubber casing with leather panels was used for the ball. This ball became the one that would be used in most modern competitions. As part of the Olympic games, volleyball was allowed to grow further, until it secured a place as the second most played game in the world.
Despite this high level of popularity, it wasn’t until 1986 that the Women’s Professional Volleyball Association, or WPVA, was formed. With the increasing rate of professional interest from both sexes, volleyball was finally allowed to reach its full potential for popularity. Elementary, middle and high schools, as well as universities, invested in the game by providing volleyball courses in their physical education, so that the sport was known in most homes around the world.
Although it still trails soccer in popularity, volleyball has done very well for a game with such young roots.