If you are here reading this, there is a fair chance that you share my interest in volleyball, or at least considering giving this sport a try. Watching volleyball competitions could give you the impression that the sport heavily favors taller players. You’d be right in thinking that. Wait, does that mean that your height could prevent you from being able to play volleyball? Let’s answer that.
Everyone, tall and short, can play volleyball. In higher levels of competition, like the NCAA, height minimums among volleyball players exist as general guidelines for recruitment only. Even among higher levels of play, volleyball has positions for all types of players.
I’m promising a lot by saying that everyone can play volleyball, but that is certainly true. There might be barriers but if you want it, you should be able to climb them. I’d like to explore a little bit more about the impact of height in volleyball below if you’d like to join me. I’ll tackle what are traditionally the best positions for shorter players, what is the average height of professional players and what are the advantages of being a tall volleyball player.
Can You Play Volleyball If You Are Short?
You absolutely can. No question. Tall, small, or large, everyone can play volleyball.
If you want to play volleyball, you should be able to find communities that are very open and friendly in your area. Volleyball is among the biggest sports in the world and local recreational leagues and other friendly competition are booming. Young and old, beginners or experienced, there should be something for you. If there is not, maybe you could start your own community!
Does that all mean that everyone will be able to compete with the best of them? Now, things get a little trickier since there is no way around the fact that taller players have a natural advantage over shorter players in volleyball. Like many other areas of life, volleyball is one of these areas where mother nature will gift some people with genes that will advantage them. At earlier ages, it is difficult to predict how tall you’ll grow. So if you are young, do not bother trying to predict, simply follow your heart and interest. Give volleyball a chance and get better with time.
If you are looking for a better understanding of recruitment guidelines for women volleyball players in the NCAA, I encourage you to read more here.
Now, if you’ve grown to love volleyball and would like to compete, not being as tall as some, let’s explore some important factors to consider.
Poland national team
3 Best Positions for Shorter Players
Friendly disclaimer, if you wish to compete, tall or short, you will need to put in a lot of effort. Unfortunately, if you are shorter, you might need to put a lot more effort even still. At this point, you should wisely consider where you are putting your effort.
Volleyball has positions for all types of players. As a shorter player, most will have more chances with the outside hitter, the setter or the libero position. I’ll break down why below.
The Outside Hitter (OH)
The height of an outside hitter is an important factor, but it is one where skill and performance can generally overcome a height difference. The position is naturally less dependant on speed and more on execution. The position of outside hitter requires a well-rounded player that can pass, defend, block and hit. Passing and defending when you’re small gives you some advantages over bigger players. Hitting from the OH position also usually allows for more time with the approach, where you can compensate with a higher jump. As for blocking, it is probably the biggest weakness for shorter players. Fortunately, techniques such as the swing block can be utilized from the outside hitter position to maximize the height of your block.
If you want to hit the ball, the outside hitter position is your best chance at competing.
A great setter has many requirements, height is not at the top of that list. Don’t get me wrong, height will help, but it does not make a setter great by itself. Leadership abilities, technical skills, and decision-making are more important factors in making a good setter. Height does have advantages but if you can practice enough to be the most consistent setter you can be, you can make yourself unreplaceable. The only requirement for height is your blocking presence. Since you will be matched against outside hitters when in the front rotations, you need to at least be able to present some sort of attack obstacle.
If you are the leader type, you want to be in control, setter might be your position.
If you don’t know, the libero is the position that only plays defensively, and wears a different colored jersey. Due to the nature of the position, height is simply not a factor that anyone should consider. It’s 100% about skills, consistency, and speed. You will need to be a master at ball-handling, be agile and quick with your reflexes.
If you are not someone who can jump very high and you are shorter than the average, Libero is likely the most appropriate position for you.
Remember that all this only really applies if you are thinking of playing competitively. Otherwise, do what you please and do your best.
What Are the Advantages of Being a Tall Volleyball Player
If you are a shorter player, you should know what you are competing against and the advantages others may hold over you. I’ll now cover the biggest advantages tall players naturally have in volleyball.
It might be obvious but I’ll spell it out, even more. On average, tall players are able to jump and reach higher simply because of their height. Not only that, but they will be able to reach the same height a shorter player would reach, with less effort and less time. When blocking, a taller player will be able to get higher and therefore can block more space. They will also benefit from having more leeway regarding the speed of their block simply because their limbs and height will compensate.
This advantage is why on average taller players will end up in the middle blocker or opposite hitter position. These two positions are more demanding at the net and often require a high blocking capability.
When it comes to hitting, a taller player will generally have more vertical, which translates to a higher point of contact when hitting. A higher point of contact means more room to use different hits, more angles and less threatened by the opposing block.
Generally, the advantages mentioned above all boil down to this, tall people have longer limbs. These long limbs help with their general reach when blocking and hitting. That reach can also give them an advantage when defending. Sometimes inches can make the difference between saving a ball with a pancake or not.
Shorter players have tough competition when it comes to volleyball, so please be aware and set realistic expectations for yourself.
The Average Height of Professional Volleyball Players
Here is some information about the average height of volleyball players. This is to give you a better understanding of what professional players look like on average.
Lets first start with the average height of women and men worldwide. 5 feet 4 inches women and 5 feet 9 inches men. Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of where you are situated on this scale.
As for professional volleyball players, from what I could find, men’s height generally ranges between 6ft 1 in (1.85 m) to 6 ft 10 1⁄2 in (2.10 m), while for women it ranges from 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m ) and 6 ft 5 in (1.95 m). Most, if not all of them are above average height.
Try Beach Volleyball
If you are in love with volleyball already and you wish to play competitively, you should consider trying beach volleyball. This sport derived from indoor volleyball is much less of an air battle. To compete, beach players have to all be well rounded to play different roles at any given time since there are only two players on your team. If this is news for you, check out this quick video on beach volleyball to learn more.
No one chooses to be short or tall. Sometimes mother nature gifts some people with genes that will advantage them in certain areas of life. Volleyball is one of these areas where your height does have an impact.
All else being equal, coaches and teams will always favor taller players. Do you know what this means? It means, you must do all in your power to never be equal to taller players, you must be better. Now, go do your best!