When you first start playing a sport like volleyball it’s easy to doubt your own abilities. You may think to yourself, can I even throw the ball over the net? How much does a volleyball weigh?
In this guide, we’re going to explore the types of balls used in this sport, their varying dimensions, and resulting weights. Take note of the fact that indoor and outdoor volleyball are two different ways to play the sport and use different equipment.
Once we’ve figured out exactly how much the volleyball weights we’ve going to look into why this matters. After all, the weight of the balls is essential in determining their movement on the court, and if you want to play at a high level you will need to understand the physics of the sport. So, let’s get started.
The Short Answer
The weight of the ball is an extremely important factor when it comes to volleyball. After all, the objective of the game is to prevent the ball from touching the ground, hence weight is crucial.
The first thing to understand, however, is the fact that there are two distinct categories of balls in volleyball. This is because there are two variations of the game, one that is played indoors, and one that is played on the beach. Each of these versions has its own specific requirements hence the weights of the balls used for each type are different.
- Outdoor Balls
In the case of beach balls, these are slightly bigger than their indoor counterparts. Although there is some variation from one ball to the other, generally outdoor balls range from a weight of 9.2 ounces to 9.9 ounces. Moreover, these balls are also a little bigger physically and range from a circumference of 26 to 27 inches; once more depending on the exact ball.
Finally, the last thing to note about these balls is their lower internal pressure. A lower internal pressure essentially makes the ball a bit more squishy and less likely to burst in case it hits a sharp object. Due to this fact, outdoor volleyballs have an internal pressure that ranges from 2.5 to 3.2 psi (pounds per square inch).
- Indoor Balls
On the other hand, there are indoor balls. These are a bit smaller than their outdoor counterparts. Generally, the weight varies but also ranges from 9.2 to 9.9 ounces. This is because of the fact that even though indoor and outdoor volleyballs are slightly different, regulations call for all volleyballs to weigh between 9 and 10 ounces.
The first difference, however, between indoor and outdoor volleyballs is apparent in terms of their size. An indoor ball will have a circumference ranging from 25.5 to 26.5 inches. Although this may seem like only a small difference when compared to the outdoor balls, it has a significant impact as it reduces the volume of the ball a great deal.
Due to this reduced volume, indoor balls also have a higher pressure which makes them firmer to hold and hit. This pressure can range from 4.3 to 4.6 psi depending on the exact brand and model.
- Youth Balls
Finally, one last thing to note is that there is a third category of volleyball called youth balls. You are unlikely to encounter these as they are generally used for younger players, however, it is still useful to be aware of them.
Youth balls have the same weight as the other balls and the same pressure as indoor volleyballs, however, what sets them apart is that they are even smaller. These balls’ circumference ranges from 25-26 inches. Thus making them much easier for younger players with smaller hands to handle.
Why The Weight Matters
In order to better understand why these differences in the size and internal pressure of volleyballs exist, we must first get an idea behind why volleyballs are the way they are.
There are essentially a few design goals behind the ball, born out of practical concerns for how the game needs to be played. Firstly, the ball cannot be so light that it is swayed easily by the wind. If this was to be the case, the game would be impossible to play as the volleyball would keep getting blown away from the court.
Secondly, the ball cannot be too heavy to be kept up in the air. Since the goal of the game is to keep the ball from touching the ground, it is extremely important that it is not so heavy that it drops like a rock every time it is volleyed across the net.
Finally, the volleyball needs to not be so light that air resistance slows it down and makes it float around like a balloon. If this was the case the game would not be fun as it would always be easy to hit the ball since it would never gain speed after getting hit.
Thus, as you can see, there are conflicting reasons for the ball to be both light and heavy. For a volleyball to function properly for the game, it needs to be the perfect in-between weight so that the three objectives can be met. This is the reason why the standard regulation volleyball weighs between 9 and 10 ounces.
This weight is heavy enough to be able to avoid swaying and slowing down in the air while also being light enough so that teams can easily hit it to one another and keep it airborne throughout the duration of the match.
Indoor vs Outdoor balls
As discussed earlier, there are small but important differences between the volleyballs used indoors and those that are used outdoors on the beach. To understand why these differences exist and what effect they have on the game we must first look at the different settings each type is used in.
- Indoor Courts
Indoor volleyball is usually played on a court with a hard but smooth surface. Due to this fact, the ball bounces more. Moreover, as the surface is smooth and regular, the ball is unlikely to hit a sharp object and risk bursting. Thus, the indoor version of the volleyball has a higher internal pressure of 4.3 to 4.6 psi. This higher pressure can be maintained without any additional risk of the ball bursting.
- Outdoor Courts
On the flip side, in an outdoor setting, the surface is likely to be rough, coarse, and uneven. Potentially, the sand might even contain sharp objects like rocks or seashells. Due to this fact, outdoor balls have lower internal pressure, usually around 2.5 to 3.2 psi. There is less of a chance of the ball bursting as it has more give to it.
Moreover, an outdoor ball also has a different outer coating. In the case of an indoor ball, this surface is relatively thinner and mostly smooth. However, outdoor volleyballs have a thicker outer skin and a rough surface. This also helps prevent damage to the ball during outdoor use.
Thus the differences between indoor and outdoor volleyballs arise as a result of the different environments in which these two variations of the game are played. Moreover, it is important to not treat the two types as interchangeable, as using the wrong ball could result in damage to the ball and an improper game.
Finally, it is also important that you practice with the right ball for the right setting so that you are well adjusted to your type of play. If, for example, you played indoors with an outdoor ball, you would struggle significantly during a serious game in which the standard indoor ball was used as you would not be used to handling it during the match.
Other than the two categories discussed above, there are also numerous volleyballs available for younger players who may not be fully grown physically hence require something different.
Although, as mentioned earlier, the official youth league uses a volleyball with the same weight requirement as adult balls, these have a slightly smaller circumference making them easier for younger individuals to handle. However, a ball weighing 9.2 to 9.9 ounces may still be too much, especially for younger kids and teenagers.
To help deal with this problem, there is a plethora of unofficial balls available to cater to a variety of age ranges and sizes. Generally, for teenagers, you will be able to find volleyballs that range from 5 to 7 ounces and have a variety of different circumferences. A good rule of thumb to remember is that all else being equal, the smaller a ball is in size, the faster and harder it will fly through the air.
This is because a ball that has a smaller size will face less air resistance and hence will be slowed down less. However, sometimes a small ball may be necessary for children due to the fact that they have small hands. In these cases, you can find volleyballs weighing even less than 5 ounces and these would be recommended for anyone below the age of 12.
Volleyballs come in a wide variety of weights and dimensions depending upon the type and intended use case. Although all regulation volleyballs have a weight between 9 and 10 ounces, they still do vary in size and pressure for outdoor and indoor use. In case you’re looking to play a fun game of volleyball at the beach with your family, there are a number of lighter and smaller options available for the whole family to play safely!