Can you use a Soccer Ball as a Volleyball? (+Tips to do so)

can you play volleyball with a soccer ball

It is quite common to see recreational players playing with a soccer ball instead of an actual volley-ball for fun. But, could you actually do it? Is it a good idea? Indeed…

If all players for a given volleyball match agree to use a soccer ball with a moderate pace, then that’s totally fine. However, executing regular volleyball moves could be harder because of the size, weight and surface difference between both balls.

In case you want to try playing volleyball with a freaking soccer ball, then in this article I help you with some tips and guidance to do it properly and most importantly safely!

By the way, if you don’t own a volleyball yet, then I highly recommend you learn the right way to choose a volleyball when you are ready to buy one.

What these volleyball moves will look like with a soccer ball?

There are 6 basic moves in volleyball:

  • Serve
  • Set
  • Pass
  • Block
  • Dig
  • Spike (smash)

Each one of those will look quite different if a soccer ball is used rather than the regular one!

1. Serve


The achieved trajectory in throwing up the ball will either be lower because of the increased weight, or more effort will be required to reach the same height.

This also means that the force required to clear the net will be greater. The ball is likely to travel lower, so there will be more lost dropped services. And big servers are unlikely to serve as many aces as they would normally.

And that is without considering the bruised hands that are likely to result in case you hit very hard.

2. Setting


When setting the ball, the setter needs to anticipate both its direction and speed. This will be more difficult with a soccer ball as it could keep lower because of the extra weight and will move slower through the air.

By the way, if you want to practice setting drills with a partner, then I highly recommend doing it with a soft ball. For example, this soft volleyball ball is very suitable for setting and even passing drills.

3. Passing


The pass usually precedes the set and is arguably the most important move of all on the receiving side because it helps create the attack.

The movement of the passer needs to be accurate and at the same time he relies on his fingers to execute the move.

Again, the latter will be impacted by the use of a heavier ball, making it considerably more difficult to pass with the necessary accuracy.

4. Block


The block is another important move that relies heavily on the shape of the fingers, which can take a lot of punishment, even with a regular volleyball.

Using a soccer ball for any length of time will increase substantially the risk of bruising and even more serious finger injuries.  

5. Dig


The dig requires somebody to stoop down close to the ground to retrieve a shot that the blockers have missed.

Not only does this require great reflexes and agility, but also the ability to get the ball sufficiently high for another team-mate to continue the point.

It will be quite harder for somebody to dig the ball high enough with a soccer ball.

6. Spike


Spiking demands accuracy and power when directing a shot and requires the ability to swing the shoulders whilst in the air. The top players are also able to put top spin on it, making it much more difficult to return.

Again striking a soccer ball means more effort from your shoulders, which will be much harder to put any spin on it. However, by way of compensation, if the smash does clear the net, using a soccer ball means it is much less likely to come back.

What is the difference between a soccer ball and a volleyball?

Although they are very similar in terms of construction, the principal differentiation is weight – a volleyball is just over half the weight of the average soccer ball.

This table below summarizes the main differences:

Features Volleyball Soccer ball
Diameter About 67 cm 65 – 70 cm
Weight 270 g on average 410 – 450 g
Ball pressurize 4.3 – 5 pounds per square inch 8.5 – 15.6 pounds per square inch
Design Pattern Consists of 16 hexagon stitched pattern Based on a 32-hexagon stitched pattern
Surface Softer Less softer

Below are more interesting differences that you should know about:

Both balls must be spherical and comprise of an inflatable bladder which are then wrapped either in leather or, more commonly, synthetic materials, such as English Porvoir, Korean Ducksung, or PVC, which are either stitched or glued together.

Volleyballs designed for outdoor use tend to have similar properties to soccer balls in terms of waterproofing.

Advances in ball design and construction mean that modern soccer balls do not retain moisture like they used to, meaning that they are both lighter and less likely to cause the type of head injuries.

On the other hand, soccer balls tend to be more durable. That is why, although a volleyball can be used to play soccer with, it will start to fall apart after a few weeks of use.

Important Tip: In case you are looking for a ball that you can use for both soccer and volleyball, then you may want to have a look at this Light Soccer Ball on Amazon. This is a excellent example of a soccer ball that you can use also to serve, spike and block!

Can playing volleyball with a soccer ball make you a better player? 

Although it is possible to play volleyball with a soccer ball if no other alternative is available, it is unlikely to make you a better player.

In fact …

  • There will be an immediate impact on technique, starting with the serve which will need to be hit with much more force if it is to clear the net.
  • The extra weight also makes it harder to return, to set and to spike, and diminishing returns will soon set in for most players. They will tire more easily, and the quality of their overall play might soon deteriorate.
  • The game pace will become be slower – Indeed, a heavier ball will mean that it will not travel through the air so quickly.

And, when all these factors are added together, the game will just be less enjoyable to play. Especially for the casual player, that is the main reason to play volleyball in the first place.

Soccer ball impact on your arms …

A typical reaction that many volleyball players experience after a game is a general fatigue and tiredness in the arms, along with red marks and bruises. Blocking, setting, and digging have all been found to increase the risk of finger injuries.

And that is with a volleyball that is half the weight and pressurized much less than a soccer ball.

Not only will it be much harder to serve and make the necessary blocks, but there is a high chance that a player could hurt their forearms and fingers.

Volleyball requires a lot of flexing of muscles in the forearms and finger joints so using a ball that is not designed for the game is not pleasant and could also represent some sort of risk.

Other soccer ball risks as a volleyball …

One of the most common injuries that volleyball players experience are problems with the shoulder area, especially among bit hitters. These would only get worse trying to strike a ball that is twice as heavy, due to the repetitive activity of serving and spiking.

Then there is the danger of being hit in the face if an opponent spikes the ball straight into the face. A broken nose or a black eye is not uncommon even with a regular volleyball, but the damage could be quite worse with a soccer ball.

Blocking also will hurt considerably more if a soccer ball is hit at speed from close range.

Other sports balls as an alternative to a volleyball?

1. Basketball

Basketball shares some of the characteristics with volleyball as it is a team sport played with hands on a court. Indeed some volleyball coaches use basketball as a warm-up exercise for their teams in some cases.

However, spiking a basketball is strongly discouraged. A basketball is a lot harder than a volleyball, so there is a risk of bruising the hand if swinging too hard.  Hairline fractures are not uncommon amongst those who have attempted to play volleyball with a basketball.

2. Handball

Another sport that uses the hands and a court is handball. The difference though is the size of the ball!

A handball is roughly the same weight as a volleyball, but the principal difference is in the size. The circumference of a handball is, on average, 10 cm or less …

… That means it is easier to carry, pass and shoot.

3. Netball

And then there is netball, one of the fastest growing sports in the world, not just among women, but men too.

A netball has a slightly larger circumference but is on average 15% lighter than a volleyball.

That means that volleyball could be played with a netball, but there would be a marked tailing-off in the power of shots that could be achieved.

Bottom line

To put it in a nutshell, playing volleyball with a soccer ball is not a terrible idea if you want to do it occasionally and for fun! However, doing it permanently instead of a proper ball is something you should avoid …

… Also, if you choose to use a soccer ball, try to avoid hitting the ball hard at all times to not get hurt.

To learn more about volleyball ball, I recommend you checking this article on what makes volleyballs so light! I think you will learn a lot …

Carissa Harmer

Carissa Harmer has over 6 years of volleyball experience between playing the sport at a semi-professional level, following the biggest volleyball teams & leagues out there as well as helping beginners to get started on the right path.

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