Volleyball was invented in 1895 in Holyoke, Massachusetts. It actually began as a game called Mintonette. William G. Morgan, a physical education director at the local YMCA, created the indoor game, incorporating aspects of handball and tennis. The intention was to invent an indoor sport somewhat similar to basketball, also gaining popularity at the time, which could be enjoyed by older, less athletic members of the YMCA. While basketball included a great deal of running, Mintonette required players to basically stand in one place. A specific game ball for Mintonette was designed in 1900.
Morgan was responsible for documenting the first rules of the game. These included the net size, number of innings, fouls, and a scoring system.
The name of Mintonette changed in 1896, when someone noticed the number of volleys that were required to play the game. The rules of the game evolved over time. In 1916, the addition of the set and spike were introduced. Other skills required to play the game include serving, passing, attacking, blocking, and digging. Like many sports, volleyball features a variety of strategies and players can be aligned in a variety of formations for best results. In 1917, the number of points required to win a game was lowered from 21 to 15.
Volleyball was popular in the United States and spread slowly throughout the world. Canadians began playing volleyball around 1900. The advent of the Federation of Internationale de Volleyball began in 1947 and the first World Championships were held shortly after. The popularity of the sport spread to Europe, Brazil, and Eastern European areas.
Volleyball first appeared at the Olympics at the 1924 games in Paris. It was a demonstration game, though, and was not officially added to the Olympic game roster until 1957. The game was originally included in a round-robin system, but organizers quickly realized it would be more successful as a traditional tournament. Both men’s and women’s volleyball is included in today’s summer Olympic games. A variation of the game grew popular mid-way through the 20th century. Beach volleyball, played on sand with fewer players, was added to the Olympic Games in 1996, but had been played since 1930.
The game continues to evolve and there have been changes to the rules as recently as 2008. In 2000, the decision was made to allow serves that touch the net, as long as the ball ultimately makes it over the next and into the opponent’s court. It was also during this year that the service area was expanded. Players could now serve from anywhere behind the line, as long as they were within the sidelines. Multiple contacts by single players were also allowed on first contact, as long as they occur on a single play of the ball. In 2008, the scoring system was changed in NCAA play for women. In order to win any of the first four sets of a match, women’s teams must score 25 points. In the fifth set, the minimum number is still 15. The official term for a game was also changed to “set.”