Why Are Volleyball Shorts So Short?

The length of volleyball shorts has been a point of debate for too long. People ask why are volleyball shorts so short? Especially volleyball shorts for females.

Some people claim that comfortability and flexibility play a key role in choosing the length and material, while others speculate it’s purely for aesthetic and popular appeal.

However, men’s volleyball shorts aren’t that long either. In today’s article, I will talk about the historical and practical reasons behind this, so let’s begin.

Why Do Volleyball Shorts Have To Be So Short?

As you already know, volleyball requires intense movements, diving, and jumping. Therefore, the shorts have to be comfortable and practical.

Long shorts and baggy bottoms aren’t as comfortable as volleyball latex shorts. The worst part? They get in the way when trying to jump or move quickly.

Shorter spandex shorts, on the other hand, enable a broad range of movement. The best part? The cloth doesn’t touch the net either, according to the players.

Longer shorts usually bunch up because of the quick movements and distract players which affects their play negatively. Short shorts don’t cause this issue.

Why aren’t men’s shorts as short as women’s? That’s the burning question, correct? The answer hides in the men’s anatomy. Longer shorts make a better choice for males because they match the shape of their thighs and ensure their bottoms wouldn’t ride up.

That being said, shorter spandex volleyball shorts wouldn’t be very productive for men. On the contrary, they would significantly lower their productivity.

Also, since males and females play the game in different ways, their outfits differ. Men focus on strength and power while women prioritize agility.

When Were The Volleyball Shorts Invented?

Why Are Volleyball Shorts So Short?

In the beginning, volleyball was a men’s game invented in the late 1880s. And women didn’t take part in this game until the 1950s. Volleyball has become a high school and college-level sport in the ‘70s.

At the same time, female uniforms were designed in the face of fashion at the time. They included form-fitting but not tight shirts and mid-length shorts. Sounds appropriate, right? So, what happened?

Well, as spandex gained more popularity in the late ‘70s, many volleyball teams implemented this man-made material in their uniform. Internationally and in the US, women were wearing bun huggers.

Bun huggers were spandex bottoms that resembled a bikini brief and enabled a broad range of motion. One of the disadvantages of these bottoms was that they would often ride up and get in players’ bums, exposing more of their rear end than they initially wanted. However, players didn’t cut them off.

At least not right away. These bottoms were a part of the volleyball game for quite some time, despite their downsides. In the late ‘80s and early ’90, most teams started wearing their old shorts again.

Traditional shorts made a comeback! The bun huggers weren’t completely out of style. However, most players were happy that they didn’t have to wear those uncomfortable revealing shorts anymore.

Not that long after, the spandex volleyball shorts reclaimed their throne but this time, they were slightly longer. Traditionally, many teams had 4-inch spandex shorts as they abandoned traditional ones.

However, players quickly transitioned to the 2-inch spandex shorts, claiming that longer shorts moved a lot. Shorter ones didn’t but again, they started revealing too much and getting into uncomfortable spots. Nowadays, almost every female player in the US wears spandex shorts as part of their uniform.

Some schools, especially private religious-based schools, still ride the traditional mid-tight shorts instead of the shorter ones. They claim that short spandex volleyball shorts violate their school dress code.

Ironically, I have learned that almost all of those players who wear traditional mid-tight shorts, also wear the spandex underneath to avoid exposure when rolling and diving. What’s your opinion?

How Long Are Volleyball Shorts?

I can’t say for sure because the length usually depends on the team and region.

Typically, female players wear between 2 and 4-inch long shorts. However, they can either be shorter to be bun huggers or longer to reach the mid-tight level.

The FIVB has provisions for females to wear other shorts instead of the regular tight shorts.

They include knee-length pants which should be about 3 cm above the knee and shorts, which should be 26 cm above the knee. And both options include respective tops.

As for men’s volleyball shorts, the regular size is usually up to the knee. The inseams should be between 5 and 7 inches. However, this varies according to regulating bodies.

For example, the FIVB claims that volleyball shorts for males shouldn’t feature inseams above 3.9 inches. Therefore, they should measure at least 10 cm above the kneecap.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of spandex shorts for females.

Benefits of Volleyball Spandex Shorts

The main reason why spandex shorts take place in volleyball today is flexibility. Apparently, this material provides a great range of motion. It’s light and non-intrusive, allowing players to move their limbs as fast as if they weren’t limited by clothing.

As you probably know, volleyball is a sport that greatly appreciates the players’ range of motion. Players have to catch balls very high up in the air or very low to the ground. And with traditional shorts, catching balls will probably bunch up the shorts.

The best part about spandex shorts is that they don’t get stuck in uncomfortable places nor bunch up in the middle of a game. They’re very tight, so there’s no possibility of exposing players’ underwear, which wouldn’t be the case with regular shorts.

I also found out that spandex handles moisture better than traditional sports shorts, so I can understand why spandex is preferred in volleyball. As a high-action sport, players sweat a lot but spandex shorts can help this problem by reducing the sweating.

Additionally, most players claim that spandex shorts feel more comfortable than underwear. Therefore, if you’re not ashamed of your body as no one should be, spandex makes a better choice for mechanical reasons too! Obviously, they increase agility.

If they were just popular for the sexualization of the game, they wouldn’t be utilized on the international stage for so long. Since every advantage matters on the international stage, some teams would certainly wear other shorts that enhance their game.

Overall, the majority of volleyball players enjoy wearing spandex. They think they’re modern, appealing, but most importantly, ensure better movement. The best part? They’re available in different colors and patterns, so you have plenty of options.

What Do Volleyball Rules Say About Shorts?

According to the volleyball rules, players should wear their uniform shorts or gym shorts during practice. Shorts should provide the player with a good appearance and comfort. During the competitions, players should wear uniforms that look similar in color, striping, and of course, logos.

As for the length of shorts for males and females, the volleyball rules say you should wear bottoms that don’t cover more than 10 cm on any side if you’re a female. The female volleyball uniform is essentially a bikini top and shorts, while the men’s uniform consists of a vest and longer shorts.

As for other pieces of clothing, it’s recommended to wear socks to help absorb the foot moisture during play. Also, socks can help to prevent blisters. It’s also important to wear shoes created for volleyball with good heel support, arch support, and cushioned insoles for better performance.

What Do Female Volleyball Players Wear Under Their Shorts?

Most female volleyball players prefer underwear that doesn’t provide a visible panty line. However, it’s a personal choice.

Therefore, what you wear under your volleyball shorts depends on personal preference, body type, and so on. However, usually, females wear a seamless thong, boyshorts, g-string, or v-string.


It’s a common belief that men invented the female dress code in volleyball to sexualize women’s bodies. However, there’s a practical reason for wearing spandex.

Spandex is utilized for volleyball players to protect the players’ hands. It’s super easy to get your thumbs caught on the leg of looser uniforms, which can cause injury. It’s also more comfortable, breathable, and enables better movement. So, despite what you believe, they’re better for playing.

They weren’t chosen to sexualize your daughters and add sex appeal to the game. They actually provide practicality and comfort. However, feel free to share your opinion in the comments.

Now that you know more about the history of volleyball shorts for males and females, and why females wear spandex shorts, what’s your opinion? Do you believe any of this? If not, why?

Do you wish the uniforms would change? Do you find them to be sexist? Have you ever worn spandex? Leave a comment and let’s continue the conversation below!