Does Height Actually Matter in Volleyball? (Explained)


does height matter in volleyball

It is not a mystery that almost all professional volleyball players are taller than the average person (this involves both men and women). Obviously, since the net is quite high, being tall is really helpful to be able to get the ball to the opponent side over the net …

That being said, lot of beginners are wondering whether height actually matter that much? In other words, if I am not tall enough, would I be able to do well enough in volleyball?

Indeed, the most important attributes in volleyball are your physical shape and level or skills. Height, on the other hand, is not a Must, yet it is very important, as it leverages those 2 attributes dramatically.

In this article, I breakdown the importance of height and how it can help you become a better volleyball player. I also explain how you can manage to do well at volleyball even if you are not tall enough!

Importance of height for volleyball …

Taller players are usually desirable because it is easier for them to block the ball or attack. However, this is not to say that shorter players cannot be useful…

Shorter players are known to have faster reaction time during defense and are also able to pass the ball better.

Therefore, since volleyball is a game that involves a mix of speed, skills, and tactics, a typical team is made up of players of varying heights to cater to each of the specific roles that are required.

Some of the most significant advantages that tall players naturally have include …

Blocking

blocking

On average, taller players are able to jump and reach higher levels in the air. Not only this, but they are also capable to reach the same height a shorter player would reach with less time and less effort.

When blocking, a player who is tall is able to reach higher and, therefore, is able to block more space.

Taller players also benefit from having more leeway when it comes to the speed of their block. This is again simply because their limbs and height compensate and help them.

That’s why on average taller players are usually given the position of middle blocker or opposite hitter.

Helpful Tip: In case you are few inches shorter than the average volleyball height, then you could help compensate that using quality volleyball shoes with high soles. Not only they will help you gain a little bit of height, but also will give you more confidence to jump higher. For example, these volleyball shoes will help you gain some height.

Hitting

spike

When it comes to hitting the ball, a taller player will usually have a more vertical reach, which means they have a higher point of contact when hitting the volleyball…

A higher point of contact means that there is more room for the player to use different hits, more angles, and they are also less threatened by the opposing block.

Perfect height for volleyball …

On average, the height of a male volleyball player should be around 6.43 feet (196.02 cm), while for female players it should be around 6.28 feet (181.43 cm).

Keep in mind that as volleyball players retire and young players take their place, the average height keeps on changing …

However, as a rule of thumb, the average height will be around 195 cm to 197 cm for men and 180 cm to 183 cm for women.

Keep in mind that it is believed by many that volleyball can help you grow taller!

Volleyball Positions that require height the most

The Middle Hitter position is typically reserved for the tallest players on the team (also known as the middle blockers) …

Players at this position are responsible for blocking the opposing team’s attacks and also for hitting the ball from the middle.

Every volleyball team has 2 middle hitters, both of which are usually the tallest players of the team.

The outside hitter is the second position that needs a player to be tall. The outside hitter is the player that hits and blocks from the front left spot on the court.

There are two outside hitters that have to do the hitting, blocking, passing, digging, and serving.

Another position that is suited for tall players is that of opposite hitters. An ideal opposite hitter has to be up at the net and play aggressively when they drop back on defense.

Good opposite hitters are usually the biggest players on the team as this is a volleyball position centered around blocking …

So by controlling the opposing outside hitter, you give a better chance to your team to win.

Learn more about the most suitable volleyball positions for taller players!

Volleyball moves where height will help you

Height can be an advantage for almost all volleyball moves, including hitting, passing, blocking, digging, and serving.

Blocking and spiking are two of the most important moves in which height is needed as they take place usually closer to the Net.

Can you play volleyball if you are short?

First thing you need to keep in mind, is that coaches don’t care too much about height in volleyball tryouts!

Shorter players also have significant advantages in volleyball as they have:

  • Faster reaction time
  • Better ability to accelerate body movements
  • Greater ability to rotate their body faster
  • And stronger muscles in proportion to body weight.

Shorter players are also at a lesser risk of having injuries in falling.

They can play at these positions …

Outside Hitter

The height of an outside hitter is important, but it is also one position where performance and skill can usually overcome a height difference.

The position of an outside hitter requires a well-rounded player that can defend, pass, block and hit, more than just being tall.

Passing and defending when you are short also gives you some advantages over bigger players.

Hitting from the outside hitter position gives you more time with the approach, and you can compensate with a higher jump.

When it comes to blocking, this can be a big weakness for shorter players…

Fortunately, though, techniques like the swing block can be used from the outside hitter position to maximize the height of your block.

Setter

While height will definitely help, it is still not the only factor that makes a great setter…

Technical skills, leadership abilities, and decision-making abilities are other important factors that make a good setter.

The only need for height as a setter is for your blocking presence. Since you are matched up against outside hitters when you are in the front rotations, you should be able to present some type of attack obstacle.

So if you have leadership capabilities but you are not that tall, you can consider the setter position.

Libero

If you are not aware, the libero is the volleyball position that only plays defensively and is the one member of the team that wears a different colored jersey

Due to the nature of the libero position, height is not a factor that anyone considers!

It is rather 100% all about consistency, skills, and speed. You need to be a master at ball-handling, be quick and agile with your reflexes, and height does not play much of a role in this position.

At the same time, if you are not someone who can jump up very high, and your height is shorter than the average, the libero is the best and most appropriate position for you in volleyball.

However, remember that this is only applicable if you are thinking of playing volleyball competitively. If you want to play volleyball as a hobby and for fun, then your height will not make any difference to your game.

You can learn more about the most suitable volleyball positions for shorter players!

Is this the same for beach volleyball?

You can play beach volleyball regardless of whether you are tall or short. However, just like court volleyball, taller players are also more desirable than players in beach basketball as it makes it easier for them to attack or block the ball.

Similarly, there are specific roles for shorter players on the beach volleyball team as well as they are said to have a faster reaction time while defending and are able to pass the ball better.

Beach volleyball players need to be well-rounded to play the different roles at any given time since there are only two players on the team.

Since there are lesser members on the team in beach volleyball, coaches and teams always favor taller players over shorter people…

However, if you have a true talent and you can make it through the selection based on sheer talent instead of your height, there is a good chance that you will make it past the selection process.

Final Thoughts …

My final thought would be a simple advice for you … Just forget about height!

If you are tall than, that’s great, otherwise, who cares …

I mean, I know for a fact that if you are skilled enough and if you manage to keep yourself in great shape at all times, then I highly doubt that any coach won’t like to have you in his team.

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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