In Depth: Men’s and Women’s Volleyball

Media by Nick Corrigan.

Written and Media by Nick Corrigan.

When it comes to most co-ed sports, generally there is not a drastic difference in how they are played. For some sports such as men’s and women’s basketball, there are only minor differences. As for baseball and softball, there are drastic differences. They each use a completely different ball, mounds are different styles, and there are hitting approaches used on each side that are not even slightly similar. Take a look at this video of MLB star, Albert Pujols, going up against softball great, Jennie Finch. As you can see, the best of the best struggle with hitting a softball. Men and women’s volleyball falls somewhere in between very similar and completely different.

A massive block set by the defending team causes the attacker to “tool” or attempt to go around the block. Media by GettyImages.


The differences between men and women’s volleyball start off with net height. Men’s net height is 7′ 11 5/8”, while women’s net height is 7′ 4 1/8”. This is due to the fact that generally, men are taller and jump higher than women. Going off of the physical differences, men’s volleyball tends to be more power-driven. In men’s games, typically you will see more side outs. A side out, according to, is what happens when the serving team does not score and the serve goes to the opposing team. Many times you will see men receive the ball off the serve well, take the set, and hit the ball off the block onto the floor right away. A ball that is not coming off a block is so powerful, that you hope it hits you anywhere but the face.

This image shows the court with a defense where a hitter has been hitting deep corners and tipping a lot. Media by Volleyball Theory.

Women’s volleyball tends to be a more finesse-oriented game. You will see a woman take a little less off the ball and try to aim for a specific spot instead. This allows them to better read the hitter. Reading the hitter involves three things: the set, the block, and the attacker. For example, if the set does not make it all the way out to the antenna, and the block is correctly set, all the defense will need to worry about is a tip short, a slow roll shot to the deep corner, or a hard improbable shot cross court. This allows all three back row players to easily dig a ball. The women’s team here at Greenville does a fantastic job of reading the ball and getting a dig. This kind of volleyball tends to be the more entertaining to watch, given the number of rallies there are.

Both styles of volleyball are entertaining in their own way. Men can bounce the ball to the ceiling or rocket a topspin serve. That is part of the appeal of their side of the game. Women’s games will make your heart explode with long rallies that leave you on the edge of your seat. The precision of the game will leave you in awe. The beauty of volleyball is that it may be simple at a glance, but as you look deeper, it becomes more entertaining than you ever thought. I urge you to take a deeper look at the game of volleyball!


  1. Thanks for this! My 13 year old son has just discovered a love of volleyball and I am scrambling to figure out the game and how to support him. This article helped a lot.


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