The new Olympic Channel brings you news, highlights, exclusive behind the scenes, live events and original programming, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
Volleyball was conceived as a less strenuous alternative to basketball. The sport became popular very quickly and made its Olympic debut in 1964.
Basketball and volleyball were both invented at Springfield College in Massachusetts within a few years of one another. In 1895, William G. Morgan, after watching basketball develop, decided to invent a less strenuous sport for older people. He called this game "Mintonette". However, a local professor noted the ball being volleyed over the net, and the sport was almost immediately renamed.
The sport quickly became popular across the world. Japan was playing the game by 1896, followed closely by other Asian countries and the sport developed rapidly over the next 20 years. A specially designed ball came into play; six-a-side play became standard and the rules mandating three hits were instituted.
No country has been truly dominant in volleyball, although the Soviet Union has won the most medals. The Japanese and the Soviet Union women’s teams dominated from 1964-1984 but since then the balance of power has shifted to Cuba, then to China and now to Brazil. The United States men’s teams were prominent in the 1980s, Italy in the 1990s and Brazil in the 2000s.
Discover the reference document for Volleyball.