The History & Development of Volleyball

Updated February 21, 2017

Volleyball has grown in its over 100-year history on the court and the beach. The sport is popular throughout the world and has been involved in several Olympic Games. The development of the volleyball began as a combination of other sports and throughout the years has developed specific rules that are still followed today.

William G. Morgan

Volleyball was invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan, director of physical education at a YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He directed sports classes for male adults and wanted a game that required less physical contact than basketball. His solution was to bring together sports like tennis, baseball, handball and basketball.

The Name

Morgan had originally called the game "mintonette." A tennis net was used in the first game, and it was raised to only 6 feet 6 inches. A spectator was watching a game of mintonette commented on the "volleying" of the ball back and forth. That was when the name changed from "mintonette" to "volleyball."


At Springfield College on July 7, 1896, the first official game of volleyball was played. By 1900, the first official volleyball was manufactured and produced. The game spread to Canada and South America through the YMCA during the same year. In 1909, the game spread to Puerto Rico, and, in 1912, it spread to Paraguay. Volleyball was registered as a game in the Far Eastern Games in 1913. In 1916, the NCAA added volleyball to the physical education programs at different colleges.


The development of the set and spike is credited to the Filipinos. During a game in the Philippines in 1916, a ball was passed with a high trajectory for another player to hit it so it would land over the net. A kill was called a "bomba," and the hitter was called a "bomberino."


In 1917, the points system changed from 21 to 15 points per game. In 1920, after the debut of the set and spike in the Philippines, back-row hit rules were introduced as well as the three-touches-per-side rule. National volleyball referees were introduced to the game in 1934. In the late 1940s, the forearm pass was introduced during a time when passes were done overhand. Today, the forearm pass is the best way to pass a volleyball. Blocking came into play during the late 1960s.

Beach Volleyball

The first game of two-person beach volleyball was played in 1930. In 1948, the first beach volleyball tournament was held. The California Beach Volleyball Association formed in 1965.

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About the Author

Christina Martinez has been writing professionally since 2007. She's been published in the California State University at Fullerton newspaper, "The Daily Titan." Her writing has also appeared in "Orange County's Best" magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and print journalism from California State University.