10 Things All Volleyballers Need (Besides Uniforms)
March 24, 2021
Volleyball is an awesome sport; one you can play at virtually any stage of life. In order to learn the game on a deep level, though, you typically have to be on a travel or school team. And that requires equipment. Assuming your player’s team will take care of your uniform needs, here’s what else your volleyballer should show up to tryouts with.
It doesn’t get simpler than this: if your player has to bring a lot of stuff around with them (which is true for volleyball), they’ll be able to keep better track of it if they have a place to put it. A large duffel bag gives them plenty of room for everything on this list, plus a few energy bars.
But what about keeping track of the bag? In team settings, it can be hard to tell whose stuff is whose. An embroidered name and number will clear up the confusion.
Carrying around a ball might sound a little bit like overkill. Won’t the coach bring the balls? And in that case, isn’t a ball of your own just one more thing to keep track of during hectic practice days and tournament weekends?
It isn’t that simple. Let’s say Coach gets stuck in traffic on the way to the tournament– how will you run warm-ups without a ball? And how are you going to keep your head in the game if you don’t have a ball to mess around with between matches?
Having an extra ball never hurt. Invest in one that’s regulation-sized and built to last. You want your player to be able to use this thing anywhere, whether that’s on the court before a match, or in the parking lot practicing their knuckle serve. Have them put their name on it, and let them draw their own designs on it so it looks ultra-personalized (and thus won’t get lost among all the other balls).
Volleyball is a fast-paced sport. You’re going to sweat. Staying dry is important.
It’s also super important to keep track of your towel for sanitary purposes. Can you imagine accidentally using someone else’s after they’ve already used it? Gross! That’s why customization is essential. A monogrammed towel, be it in the team color or your player’s favorite shade, helps them keep track of their own while still offering the maximum amount of moisture absorption.
In volleyball, what players do on the ground is just as important as what they do in the air. When it comes time to dig (that is, make the first defensive hit) players can’t think about how they’ll land if they have to get low for the ball. It has to be second nature.
Knee pads help with this. It allows players to get low, without worrying about hurting their knees. It also helps them shift and slide without getting floor burn.
They come in a variety of sizes, with different sleeve lengths and padding options. Different types generally coincide with the different positions on the court. Front players will need as much padding as possible, given that they’ll have to go to ground very often.
More experienced players will need less padding, as they have a greater sense of physical intelligence when it comes to proper diving technique.
In case you don’t remember, you can’t practice sports in street clothes. And uniforms are only for game day. While your player could use their gym clothes, that’s not a great solution, and definitely not the best-smelling one.
They’ll need several separate sets of athletic wear, both for practice and between games during tournaments, both indoor and outdoor.
The practice shirt is another awesome opportunity for customization. Moisture-wicking materials do allow for screen printing, offering the performance your player needs while still allowing for their own personal twist. It’s the perfect way to give players the extra motivation they need to get to the next level. If you really want to go all-out, get a set of matching shirts for the whole team with a rallying cry on the front.
In a tournament setting, teams can play up to three matches in a day. Sometimes, who moves onto the next round depends on which team is able to stay warm and engaged during the time between matches.
Volleyball shoes (and socks)
Yes, volleyball-specific shoes are a thing. They might look like basketball or cross-training shoes, but they’re significantly different in terms of how they’re designed. They are made with the action of the game in mind. That means excellent traction on ultra-smooth surfaces, like gymnasium floors.
A Volleyball shoe also offers extra support for the ball of the foot, while remaining flexible. This allows players to turn on a dime, and make quick lateral movements even quicker.
What to Look for When Buying a Volleyball Shoe
Outsole: This is the most important part of a volleyball shoe. The bottom of the shoe should be made of a somewhat soft and flexible rubber, with plenty of tread and other grooves providing traction and flexibility.
Cushioning: Volleyball shoes should be able to absorb the shock of repeated jumps and other quick movements. This type of support will save knees and ankles, as well as provide extra endurance to the player in the form of all-day comfort.
Stability: Let the shoes provide a good foundation for your player. The shoe’s upper (the portion on either side of where the shoes are laced) should conform to the foot as much as possible.
Breathability: Shoes made with mesh and moisture-wicking materials help keep feet dry and thus more comfortable. The drier they can stay, the less weight they’ll retain throughout the day.
Snug fit: There should be a finger’s width or less between the tip of the shoe and the toes. The better it conforms to the foot, the better support and stability it offers.
Volleyball shoes are only to be worn on the gym floor. It’s a good thing you picked up that duffel bag! Wearing them en route to the gym can prematurely wear down the tread on the soles, which leads to less traction when the player actually needs it, in-game.
The socks your player wears should also have the aforementioned qualities. It’s a small detail, but can make a big difference during long sets.
What’s the most common type of injury for volleyball players? Sprained ankles. What can prevent a sprained ankle? An ankle brace!
There are two major types of ankle brace: sock and mechanical. The sock style simply slides over your socked food, using elastic and velcro to offer support to the joint. The mechanical style is made out of hard plastic and velcro, and typically includes a hardened ‘stirrup’ for the foot to sit in.
While the mechanical model is generally viewed as less comfortable, some believe it weakens the ankle less than the sock model does. Which style your player chooses is up to personal preference. However, it is important to note that these braces should not be worn at all times– only during practice and matches, not during other forms of training. The more they are worn, the less stable the ankle is overall
The volleyball season is long, and your player is going to get banged up. They’ll need something to support their injured areas in order to get through the next match.
Athletic tape to the rescue. Tape is great for stabilizing joints (hello, ankles and knees, which take a beating in volleyball) and supporting strained muscles.
It isn’t for just one type of player, either. Everyone will need it at some point. Front line players will need it to support and prevent jammed fingers. Middle blockers will need it on their wrists. And it’s just good to have on hand in the event someone needs a little extra protection on those already-braced joints.
In addition to your normal roll of athletic tape, you might also want to invest in some kinesio tape. This type of tape is designed to help aid movement while lowering pain and inflammation. Nagging injuries are a fact of life for many athletes, and this can help them get more time on the court. Hey, if it works for Kerri Walsh Jennings, it will probably work for your player, too.
If your volleyball team can afford to take a massage therapist with them to every tournament, great. But for the rest of us, a muscle roller is the next best thing. It helps relieve tension and pain before, during, and after matches.
Of course, you have to buy the right one for your player’s experience level. If they’re new to the concept of ‘rolling out’ their muscles, go for one on the softer side. As they learn how to properly use it, they can move on to rollers made out of harder materials.
Tips for Using a Muscle Roller
–Keep your muscles relaxed while rolling. Don’t use too much pressure. How often you use the roller is more important than how ‘hard’ you use it.
–Spend a minimum of 30 seconds on each area. Spend more time on muscles where you feel a ‘trigger’ of pain.
– Give extra time to the sorest regions. Those are the ones that are most tired. Rolling them for longer will aid recovery and protect against injury.
Getting started using a muscle roller isn’t too difficult. There are plenty of videos out there that are perfect introductions to the practice.
Now your future volleyball star is ready to shine. After A LOT of practice, that is!
About the Author
Kyle Greco is the resident writer at RushOrderTees, where he blends word nerdery with his love for T-shirts. A graduate of The College of New Jersey, he is interested in exploring the intersection of clothing and culture. In his spare time, he makes music, builds guitars, and cooks with his wife. He enjoys hot dogs, sports, and collecting too many hats.