HISTORY

Origin of Volleyball

On February 9, 1895, in Holyoke, Massachusetts (USA), William G Morgan, a YMCA physical education director, created a new game called Mintonette as a pastime to be played preferably indoors and by any number of players. The game took some of its characteristics from tennis and handball. Another indoor sport, basketball, was catching on in the area, having been invented just ten miles (sixteen kilometres) away in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, only four years before. Mintonette (as volleyball was then known) was designed to be an indoor sport less rough than basketball for older members of the YMCA, while still requiring a bit of athletic effort.

The first rules, written down by William G Morgan, called for a net 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) high, a 25×50 ft² (7.6×15.2 m²) court, and any number of players. A match was composed of nine innings with three serves for each team in each inning, and no limit to the number of ball contacts for each team before sending the ball to the opponents’ court. In case of a serving error, a second try was allowed. Hitting the ball into the net was considered a foul (with loss of the point or a side-out)—except in the case of the first-try serve.

After an observer, Alfred Halstead, noticed the volleying nature of the game at its first exhibition match in 1896, played at the International YMCA Training School (now called Springfield College), the game quickly became known as volleyball (it was originally spelled as two words: “volley ball”). Volleyball rules were slightly modified by the International YMCA Training School and the game spread around the country to various YMCAs.

Refinements and later developments

The first official ball used in volleyball is disputed; some sources say that Spalding created the first official ball in 1896, while others claim it was created in 1900. The rules have evolved over time; In Philippines by 1916, the skill and power of the set and spike had been introduced, and four years later a “three hits” rule and back row hitting guidelines were established. In 1917, the game was changed from 21 to 15 points. In 1919, about 16,000 volleyballs were distributed by the American Expeditionary Forces to their troops and allies, which sparked the growth of volleyball in new countries.

The first country outside the United States to adopt volleyball was Canada in 1900. An international federation, the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), was founded in 1947, and the first World Championships were held in 1949 for men and 1952 for women. The sport is now popular in Brazil, in Europe (where especially Italy, the Netherlands, and countries from Eastern Europe have been major forces since the late 1980s), in Russia, and in other countries including China and the rest of Asia, as well in as the United States.

Beach volleyball (a variation of the game played on sand and with only two players per team) though popularized in Southern California, the first recorded beach volleyball games took place on the beaches of Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawai’i at the Outrigger Canoe Club. Originally designed to give bored surfers something to do when the surf was down, the game quickly developed into more organized six-man matches. The most famous early player was legendary waterman, Duke Kahanamoku.

In 1920, construction of new jetties in Santa Monica, California created a large sandy area for public enjoyment, planting the seed for beach volleyball development in that region. The first permanent nets began to appear, and recreational games were soon being played on public parts of the beach, as well as in private beach clubs. 11 such beach clubs appeared in the Santa Monica area, beginning in late 1922. The first inter-club competitions were staged in 1924, marking the first beach volleyball tournaments to be played in California.

Most of these early beach volleyball matches were played with teams of at least six players per side, much like indoor volleyball. The concept of the modern two-man beach volleyball game, however, is credited to Paul “Pablo” Johnson, an indoor player. In the summer of 1930, while waiting for players to show up for a six-man game, Johnson decided to try playing with only the four people present. The game was forever changed.

Beach volleyball began to appear in Europe in the 1930s. By the 1940s, doubles tournaments were being played on the beaches of Santa Monica for trophies. In the 1960s, an attempt to start a professional volleyball league was made in Santa Monica. It failed, but a professional tournament was held in France for 30,000 French francs. The first Manhattan Beach Open was held in 1960. The tournament is now considered the “Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball”.

In the 1970s, a few professional tournaments in Santa Monica were sponsored by beer and cigarette companies.

At the professional level, the sport remained fairly obscure until the 1980s when beach volleyball experienced a surge in popularity. Players like Karch Kiraly and Sinjin Smith became household names. In 1987, the FIVB created the first World Beach Volleyball Championships, played in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The FIVB began organizing worldwide professional tournaments, and laid the groundwork for the sport’s Olympic debut in 1996.

Despite its increased popularity in the 80′s and 90′s, American beach volleyball suffered setbacks. In early 1998, the American women’s professional tour – the WPVA – closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy. Later that same year, the American professional men’s tour – the AVP – also filed for bankruptcy, plagued by problems as a player-run organization.

In 2001, the AVP reemerged as a for-profit, publicly-traded company that combined the men’s and women’s professional tours, with equal prize money for both sexes.