Every great thing comes with a great story, it also goes for some of the greatest sports in the world like football, basketball and volleyball. Volleyball history goes way back to the late 19th century when William G. Morgan, a physical education director of YMCA in Massachusetts invented this sport as an alternative for older people who could not keep up with some fast paced sports like basketball or baseball. So in its early days, volleyball was very much different than the sport we see today played in the Olympic, not a lot of jumping, no spiking, blocking or jump serve like we can see in a volleyball match today.
Speaking about the history origin of volleyball, we cannot separate it from other sports that have already established. William Morgan actually “borrowed” some elements from other sports like baseball, tennis, and also the net from badminton to create this new game. That’s why at the beginning this game was called “Mintonnete”. The invention of basketball was also an important part in the volleyball history, since this game was also invented by a YMCA director in Springfield, James Naismith in 1891, only 4 years earlier than volleyball. The invention of basketball inspired William Morgan to create a new game that can be played by people from all age ranges including people above 50 years old.
At first, volleyball only have a few simple basic rules. Two teams playing in a court divided by a 6ft 6″ net volleyed the ball back and forth until one team missed and the ball touched the ground. There were no three touch rules and no limitation of how many players can participate in the game as long as they can fit into the court. However, as the game becoming more popular and more people interested in playing this game, there are many changes and modifications being made.
One interesting point in the history and origin of volleyball is when Alfred Halstead watched the game being played in an exhibition match 1896. He called this game “volley ball” (two words) which is a very descriptive name for the game, and so the name “mintonnette” no longer being used after that. This was actually the very first modification being made to this game.
Further modifications soon follow after that, the numbers of the player was limited to 9 per team and then later changed to 6 per team. Many believe that players rotation was also part of the modification but actually this is the original rule of the game since the beginning. Then later the three touches rule was introduced, this limit the number of touch or hit a team can make to the ball before finally they have to pass it to the opponent’s team across the net.
Originally, the ball used in the game was the rubber bladder from the inner side of a basketball. But then Spalding created a standard volleyball in 1900, the shape and weight of the ball doesn’t change much and the official volleyball used in the international championships today are actually not very much different than this first official volleyball.
Volleyball soon getting huge popularity in the USA and soon it travels across the globe when the YMCA workers introduced this game through the US missionary schools in Asia. Volleyball was very well accepted in Asian countries especially in the Phillipines. In fact, this is the place where "aggressive" moves like spiking started being used. To cope with this "new style" of gameplay modifications were being made to the net height (2.43 meters for men and 2.24 meters for women) also final score of 21 changed into 15 to make this game even more interesting and competitive. Besides Asia, volleyball also brought to Europe by the American troops during world war I.
The USVBA (United States Volleyball Association) was formed in 1928 followed by the FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volley-ball) in 1947. The existence of these governing bodies proven to be the vital part in the volleyball history. They made possible for international championships to be held and bring volleyball to be part of the most elite sports in the world. Today, volleyball has become one of the most played sports in the world next to soccer and basketball.