Who Invented the Sport of Volleyball?

William G. Morgan invented the sport of volleyball in the year 1895. Back then, it was called “mintonette” and had slightly different rules as compared to what the sport looks like now.

Through this article, we will take you through how William G. Morgan came to invent the sport and introduce it to other people. We will also cover how the sport then began to become popular and spread across the world to take the form and position that it now holds.

Let’s begin!

About William G. Morgan

Through this section, we can take a brief look at William G. Morgan himself and how he invented and demonstrated the sport.


William G. Morgan was born in New York in 1870. He studied at Springfield College in Massachusetts where he also met James Naismith, who invented the sport of basketball.

Later, Morgan started working in the field of Physical Education for the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) where he went on to become the Director of the field.

He stopped working for the YMCA in 1897 and died in 1942.


Both Morgan and Naismith worked for the YMCA. During their time there, Morgan observed the game of basketball and thought of it as too intense and challenging for people who were not as well built or good at basketball.

He thought of volleyball, or mintonette, as a way to overcome that barrier so that more and more people could participate in sports regardless of their skills and age.

He combined elements from different kinds of sports and ended up with volleyball. He also formed some basic rules and went on to test various balls that would suit the game until a tailor and designer helped him to design the ball.


In 1896, Morgan went on to share his idea about his new sport with the other members and directors of the YMCA, after which he created teams who could demonstrate the sport by playing a match between themselves at a conference.

At this conference, the name was also changed from mintonette to volleyball to suit the game better.

Morgan continued to enhance and develop the rules of the sport until they were published in the YMCA’s journals.


For inventing the sport, Morgan was given recognition and acknowledgment across the world. His name was mentioned in the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1985 for introducing the sport.

In 1995, an award was also named after him to honor particularly skilled volleyball players in the United States.

Additionally, the newly designed ball for the sport came into being only in the year 1990, after which it started to be used universally.

As the years passed, the sport started to spread to other countries and people began to play it for leisure as well as competitively until it became an internationally popular sport.

A Brief History of Volleyball

Who Invented the Sport of Volleyball?

How exactly did volleyball look like when it was first invented? What changes did it go through over the years and how did it begin to spread and become popular all around the world?

This section will look into these questions to provide a brief history of the sport itself. We can also delve into how beach volleyball came into being.

Early Rules

Morgan’s rules were slightly different as compared to the rules of the sport that are in place now. As the game spread and as people tried it out in different parts of the world, new rules started to be introduced, tested and established to suit the game better to make it more convenient, accessible, practical and competitive.

In the initial few years of the game, for instance, Morgan’s rules were mainly followed that included the following.

  • There were nine innings with the server on each side continuing to serve until the opposing team returns the ball.
  • This would then involve each person in the team making their serves.
  • The court itself was 25×50 feet, while the net was over 25 feet in terms of its length.
  • The ball was 25-27 inches when it was first introduced in 1900.
  • There was no limit on the number of players that could join each time.
  • Rules were also established about the ways in which the players could score. For instance, scores only counted while serving and if the opposing team could not continue the rally.

Since this was just the beginning, the rules were more basic and undeveloped. Later on, as the game began to evolve, more rules were introduced that included different techniques, strategies, scores, plays and more.

With these initial rules, the first match was played in Springfield by the teams that Morgan created for the demonstration that took place in 1896.

How Did It Evolve?

As mentioned, the ball that was specifically designed for volleyball was introduced in 1900, after which it began to be used regularly in the game.

After the first match was played in 1896, it quickly spread to parts of Asia due to the presence of the YMCA in various countries in Asia as well. Over the next few years, the game underwent several changes in terms of its rules.

For example, the number of players was limited as compared to the lack of limits in place in the earlier rules. By this rule, only six players were allowed to be on the court for each team playing.

In the year 1916 in the Philippines, the offensive strategies of a set and a spike were first introduced and tried out. These strategies then became universal and an important part of the sport of volleyball.

Additionally, each team was only allowed to hit the ball three times from the moment of receiving it. This came into being in 1920. The scores were also lowered for each set from 21 to 15.

There were several other tactics that came into being over the years, such as back row attacks, various spiking and setting strategies, serves and more.

The sport of volleyball spread from the United States to countries in Asia early on, after which people kept playing it for fun and recreation. This went on till the 1930s, although several countries continued to hold competitions among themselves.

This was also when the rules of volleyball were not yet the same all across the world. There were minor differences between how some places played the sport. Later, this also became more uniform until the same rules were followed everywhere.

In the year 1947, the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) was established in Paris to manage international levels of matches in the sports as well as to standardize the game even more.

This initially included 14 different countries. The headquarters shifted to Mexico in 1984 when the presidency changed.

This federation then held the World Championships for men in 1949 and for women in 1952. This allowed the sport to become popular even more.

In 1964, the game was introduced to the Olympics for the first time. These Olympics were then held in Tokyo in Japan, where Russia (then USSR) won in the men’s teams and Japan won in the women’s teams.

Later, World Cups also began to be held while the affiliated members of the federation also began to increase.

How Did Beach Volleyball Emerge?

Beach volleyball involves the two teams playing against each other on sand instead of on an indoor court. This kind of volleyball was first played in Hawaii in 1915, well into the spread of the indoors game across different parts of the world.

However, the version that is played today was first played in 1930 in California with two men on each team. This kind of version is the most popular one and continues to be played even today in competitions.

This kind of game started to become popular as well. Officially, its first match was held in California in 1947, after which other tournaments came into being in other parts of the world as well.

It was only in the year 1996 that beach volleyball became a part of the Olympics.

The rules of beach volleyball are similar to that of indoor volleyball, including its rallies, sets, spikes and serves apart from a few minor differences. Usually, competitive beach volleyball only includes two players on each team.

Final Remarks

That brings us to the end of this guide about the history of volleyball. To sum up, we talked in detail about who invented the sport of volleyball and how William G. Morgan created and developed it. We also saw how the sport evolved in terms of its rules and how it spread around the world to become a popular game.

We briefly looked into the early rules of the game and how and where competitive matches started taking place. Beach volleyball, a similar but slightly different version of the game, also emerged and became popular as the years passed.

With this, you now have all the information you need about how the sport was invented.