How to Properly Choose the Right Volleyball? (With Examples)


how to choose the right volleyball

Choosing the right volleyball ball might sound like something that you can take for granted. Indeed, most practitioners seem to pay little to no attention to what kind of ball they are using, which is a mistake …

In fact, there are some important details that can make a volleyball more suitable to you than others.

In this article, I breakdown the most important factors that will help you hand pick the right volleyball!

What to look for when looking for a volleyball?

There 3 main things you need to consider:

  • Your level of experience.
  • The ball size.
  • Used material.

When I talk about your level of experience I mean your skill and proficiency in volleyball. Indeed, if you are a total beginner, then there is no need to use an expensive high standard quality ball – you can do so if you like and have the means – but as a starting point, you just don’t have to. (Example: Check this beginner friendly ball)

The second thing is, knowing what volleyball size is better suited for you. Just like in football or soccer there are different sizes of balls that range from 1 to 5, but in volleyball there are three sizes that are intended for playing volleyball, 3,4 and 5.

The size of the ball really matters and it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Indeed, smaller balls are better for kids and those who are just learning the basic skills. Bigger balls are more suited for those that are serious about the sport and play actual games regularly.

The third factor is used materials. Higher quality balls are mostly made out of composite leather, as a result they tend to have a softer touch and won’t cause much soreness after practice session. You can learn more about how are volleyballs made.

How to choose the right volleyball size?

Volleyball balls come with 3 main sizes. Sizes 3, 4 and 5.

Size 3

It weighs about 200 to 220 grams and is intended for children up to nine years old, in fact it is recommended for children from six to nine years old. Since it is a ball of lighter weight it can be used by kids under the age of six.

It also can be used by adults who are total beginners!

Size 4

Weights about 230 to 250 grams and is intended for kids from 10 to 14 years of age. It can also be used by advanced players or professionals because of its size and easy maneuverability.

Size 5

Weights about 260 to 280 grams, and is intended for everyday use. It is suitable for kids from 15 and above.

It is the official ball size present in all professional or higher level games.

Helpful Tip: One more thing to consider is the inflation of the ball. If you overinflate the ball it can deform or pop. If you underinflate it, it can cause injuries and soreness. The best inflation range is from 294 to 318 millibars.  I highly recommend to learn more about the standard inside pressure of a volleyball.

How to choose the right volleyball type?

Based on Level of Practice

There are three types of volleyballs. Beginner type, Intermediate and advanced balls. Next we will examine all 3 types of balls.

Beginner balls – These balls are often coated in soft foam and are ideal for new players and kids. The foam is designed to stop soreness of the arms and to cause less pain when hitting it. It helps getting your forearms used to the pain of passing and striking.

Intermediate balls – These balls are often coated in synthetic leather. It is ideal for experienced players. These balls are harder to the touch than the beginner balls and help you perfect your play. The trajectory is often better and the overall feel is good.

Advanced balls – these balls are the norm when it comes to volleyball, and are usually used by experienced players. They possess a microfiber coating. It has a dimpled surface that helps even more with the trajectory and the accuracy than the intermediate ball.

Helpful Tip: There are some balls in the market that could be well used for all levels regardless whether you are a beginner or intermediate. For example this volleyball ball is pretty well suited for all skill levels.

Based on Age

Size 3 is recommended for kids aged from 6 to 9. The balls are often soft and coated with the foam we mentioned earlier.

The ball weights between 200 and 220 grams, making it an ideal ball for beginners and kids alike.

Intermediate balls which are coated in synthetic leather are suitable for teenagers and amateur players. When it comes to teenagers we are talking about thirteen and fourteen years of age.

The ball often weights between 230 and 250 grams, and as we have already said it is the best transition possible between the beginner and the advanced.

Advanced balls are heavier weighting between 260 and 280 grams and designed for experienced players above the age of 14. Although 60-80 grams can seem like a small number, when it comes to hitting the ball hard, those extra 60-80 grams are significant for beginners and intermediate players.

Based on Court

Indoor and beach volleyball use different types of balls …

Indoor volleyball ball

Indoor balls are molded; their panels are glued together to an inner lining. These glued panels give the ball a smooth appearance, also making the ball more consistent and aerodynamic.

Indoor volleyball does not have to compete with the wind and the players do not have to watch for the wind when serving or passing.

They are meant to make the game look smooth and fluent, they do not lead to any major problems on the court.

Outdoor/beach volleyball ball

Outdoor balls have their panels sawn together, unlike their indoor cousins that are glued together.

The sawn panels are meant to withstand intense striking during gameplay. The material is composite, meaning that it is made from water resistant materials.

There are also leather balls made for the outdoors but it is recommended to keep them away from water.

What Volleyball Brands are the most recommended?

Below are the best manufacturers of volleyball gear, including balls:

  • Mikasa
  • Molten
  • Tachikara
  • Wilson

Below some examples of their balls:

Mikasa MVA200 – A volleyball made for professionals, light and precise. Since it is a professional volleyball it is made out of the best materials out there.

Molten FLISTATEC V5M5000 FIVB – Another professional volleyball and it is also made out of quality materials. Personally, I like this ball!

Tachikara SV5W-GOLD – A ball made for high school and minors use. Made out of premium leather.

Wilson AVP official beach volleyball – It is intended for everyday use, for all types of players. Lower quality material is used, yet it is still a good starting point for beginners.

Final Thoughts …

Hopefully those tips and guidelines have given you a clear idea on the type the ball you should opt for next. However, I don’t recommend you spend too much time overthinking things …

If you find a ball that fits 2 or 3 criteria of what you are looking for (like budget, size and quality), then you are probably good to Go!

Don’t forget that looking after your ball is also very important, that’s why I highly recommend checking this article on how to clean a volleyball!

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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