Is Volleyball Hard to Learn? True Challenges of this ‘Easy Sport’

by | May 26, 2023 | Volleyball Questions, Advice & Skills

Remember that game we played in school gym classes or community centers? The one we thought was just another fun pastime? That’s right, volleyball.

However, once you dig a bit deeper, you quickly discover that volleyball isn’t just about preventing a ball from hitting the ground. No, it’s so much more.

Volleyball is a physical gauntlet, challenging your body’s limits and testing your resolve every time you set foot on the court. It’s not just any sport; it’s a global sensation, a shared passion, with the thrilling rush of a spike, the gritty determination of a blocker, and the pinpoint accuracy of a setter.

Now, you might be on the sidelines, watching players moving like a well-oiled machine, and wondering, is volleyball hard?

This is where things get interesting. Is volleyball an easy-peasy activity, something you can master overnight? Or is it a challenging sport that takes years of dedication to get the hang of?

I remember what my coach used to say: ‘If the sport was easy, everyone would play.’

The question isn’t as simple as it seems, and the answer? Well, it’s a bit of a yes-and-no situation. Intrigued?

Let’s get ready to dive into this thought-provoking topic.

Game on.

What Makes Volleyball a Physically Difficult Sport

Volleyball is a physically demanding sport, requiring a broad range of athletic skills and attributes.

Only after years of training and play, as many professional volleyball players would attest, can one truly appreciate the physical complexity and challenge of the sport.

As the whistle blew for my first-ever game, I remember taking a deep breath, my heart pounding against my chest. As I stared across the net, ready to start playing volleyball, I had little idea of the physically demanding sport I was about to indulge in.

The Physical Requirements of Playing Volleyball

Stamina: Volleyball games can last for over an hour, sometimes even two. This requires a significant amount of endurance, as players must maintain their energy levels throughout the duration of the game.

Strength: Many actions in volleyball require significant strength. For example, powerfully hitting and serving the ball necessitate strong arm, shoulder, and core muscles. Jumping high for blocks and attacks requires powerful leg muscles.

Speed and Agility: The ability to change direction quickly and move swiftly around the court is crucial in volleyball. Players often need to sprint short distances to reach the ball, jump to block or attack, then quickly get ready for the next move.

Flexibility: Volleyball players often need to stretch and twist their bodies in challenging ways. For instance, setters must be able to adjust their hands and bodies quickly to set the ball accurately. Diggers must often dive or stretch to reach a ball.

Coordination and Balance: Successful volleyball play requires excellent hand-eye coordination. Players must hit a moving ball accurately, often while they themselves are in motion. Balance is also essential, as players often land from jumps, make rapid turns, or stretch to reach a ball while maintaining stability.

Jumping Ability: One of the volleyball’s most physically demanding aspects is the amount of jumping involved. Players spend a lot of time in the air, whether it’s jumping to block an opponent’s attack, jumping to spike the ball, or leaping to make a serve. This requires leg strength and the ability to control the body while airborne and land safely.

Physical Resilience: The physical intensity of volleyball means that players must also have the resilience to recover quickly from exertion, minor injuries, and the occasional bumps and bruises that come with competitive play.

Quick Reflexes: Volleyball is fast-paced; the ball can come at you quickly and from any direction. Players must have quick reflexes to respond to these rapid and often unpredictable movements (not to get smashed in the face).

Debunking the Idea of Volleyball as an Easy Sport to Learn

It’s just six players on each side of the court, passing the ball back and forth, right? But let’s dig a little deeper.

Each pass, every spike, and the continuous running and jumping require high physical prowess.

Combined with mastering the basic techniques of serving, passing, setting, attacking, blocking, and digging, this is no easy feat for a beginner (try burping for a minute).

Every touch of the ball counts, every point counts, and the desire to keep the ball from hitting your side of the court is intense.

So, is volleyball an easy sport? The answer: it is actually quite hard!

The Physical Demands of Different Positions in a Volleyball Team

Each role in a volleyball team has its physical demands.

Let’s consider a few key positions:

  • The Blocker: Often the tallest members of the team, blockers have the daunting task of stopping or deflecting an attacker’s hit. It’s about timing, jumping power, and strong arms.
  • The Setter: This is the player who has the second touch of the ball, setting it up for the attacker. It’s a role that requires excellent hand-eye coordination, precision, and the ability to think quickly.
  • The Libero: The libero, easily spotted on the court in a different color jersey, is often the team’s defensive backbone. This player must be agile, quick, and ready to dig hard hits from the opposing team.

My nine years playing volleyball taught me one thing: no matter the position, volleyball is physically demanding. It’s a game of power, agility, and mental toughness. I know that it is the hardest sport in the world to play.

Is Volleyball a Hard to Learn? A Closer Look

You might watch a volleyball match and think, “I could do that!”

But once you step onto the court and start playing, you quickly realize that volleyball is harder than it seems. 

While it’s undeniably fun and engaging, there are elements to this sport that make it challenging to learn.

What Makes Volleyball Hard to Learn?

There are a few factors that contribute to the difficulty of learning volleyball, especially for beginners:

  • Technical Skillset: Volleyball is not just about physical prowess. It requires a wide range of technical skills that need time and practice to master.
  • Speed and Timing: The speed of the ball and the quick reaction time it demands can make volleyball a difficult sport to learn. Moreover, it involves anticipating the opposing team’s moves, which requires experience and sharp reflexes.
  • Rules and Strategies: The intricacies and strategy behind each play can be overwhelming for beginners. The positioning of players, rotations, types of attacks, and defensive strategies all add a layer of complexity to the game.
  • Unpredictable Ball Movement: A lightweight means it can move and bounce unpredictably, especially when spin is applied. New learners often find it challenging to predict these movements (or to duck quickly enough when the ball is going 100mph).
  • No Hands-On Ball Control: Unlike sports like basketball, where you directly handle the ball, volleyball requires striking the ball. This indirect form of control can take time to master and lead to ball-handling errors.
  • Complex Rotational Rules: The rotational system in volleyball, where players have to move positions after winning a serve, can be hard to grasp for beginners. This shifting around the court can confuse new players about their roles.
  • Sensory Overload: In volleyball, you’re using your sight to track the ball, your hearing to listen to teammates, and your touch to control the ball—all at once. This sensory multitasking can be overwhelming at first.
  • The Element of Fear: The prospect of a high-speed ball hurtling toward you can instill fear in some new learners. Overcoming this fear and building the confidence to strike the ball effectively can be challenging.

Technical Skills to Help You Play Volleyball

Becoming a proficient volleyball player means mastering a variety of technical skills.

Here are a few you’ll need to focus on:

  1. Passing the Ball: This basic yet crucial skill involves getting the ball to the right spot on the court, often in the direction of the setter. Precision and control are key to a successful pass, and it takes much practice to get it right.
  2. Setting the Ball: This is the art of preparing the ball for an attacker. The setter must accurately place the ball in the air, creating an opportunity for a successful attack. It demands excellent hand-eye coordination and a good sense of timing.
  3. Spiking:  is one of the most exhilarating aspects of volleyball. It involves jumping high and hitting the ball hard to score a point or disrupt the opposing team’s formation. Mastering the spike or kill involves understanding the best angle, approach, and timing.
  4. Serving: This is how every play begins, and there are different types like underhand, overhand, jump, and float serves. A seasoned player knows the importance of a powerful and accurate serve.
  5. Blocking: A league veteran understands that a well-executed block can stop an attack and quickly turn defense into offense.
  6. Digging: Keeping the ball in play after a spike from the opponent requires quick reflexes and good judgment. Experienced players make it look easy, but it comes from years of practice.
  7. Rotations and Positioning: Understanding where to be on the court during different plays is essential. Experienced players can read the game and position themselves effectively.

The Mental Side of the Court: Why Volleyball Is mentally challenging 

Volleyball isn’t just a physically demanding and competitive sport; it’s mentally challenging as well. The game’s fast-paced nature requires players to make split-second decisions, often under pressure.

Whether you’re a setter deciding on the best attack strategy or a blocker anticipating a spike, you must stay focused and mentally agile.

And don’t forget the pressure of teamwork; every move you make impacts the team’s performance, adding another layer of mental stress.

As I once overheard from a coach during my early years of playing: 

“Volleyball isn’t just a sport of the body, but also of the mind.” 

As you navigate the world of volleyball, keep in mind that the game’s complexity is part of what makes it such an exciting and rewarding sport to learn.

Tactical Awareness: Every player must understand the game’s tactics and strategies in volleyball. This involves recognizing opponents’ patterns, understanding one’s team’s tactics, and adjusting on the fly. Players must be aware of their positioning, their teammates’ positioning, and their opponents’ positioning at all times, which requires a high level of spatial awareness and mental concentration.

Decision Making: During a game, players need to make split-second decisions. For example, a setter must decide who to set the ball to, considering the positions of their teammates and opponents, the score, and each player’s performance up until that point. Likewise, a hitter must decide in a fraction of a second whether to spike the ball, tip it, or try a roll shot based on the set and the blockers’ positions.

Stress and Pressure Management: The fast pace of the game and the frequent scoring can put significant stress and pressure on players. Managing this pressure, staying calm, and performing under stress are significant mental challenges.

Emotional Control: Volleyball is an emotional game. The intensity of competition, the thrill of scoring, the disappointment of errors, and the tension of close games can provoke strong emotional responses. Maintaining emotional control and staying focused on the task at hand, rather than getting swept up in these emotions, is a crucial mental skill.

Confidence and Mental Toughness: Confidence in one’s skills and abilities is crucial. However, maintaining that confidence can be challenging, especially when things aren’t going well. The ability to bounce back from setbacks, cope with adversity, and stay determined and focused, no matter what.

Concentration and Focus: Volleyball requires continuous attention and concentration. A momentary lapse in focus can lead to a missed serve, a botched reception, or a poor set. Players must be able to maintain high levels of concentration throughout a game, which can be mentally exhausting.

Team Dynamics: The mental challenge also comes from managing team dynamics. Understanding each other’s roles, developing trust, managing conflicts, and creating a positive team culture are all mentally demanding tasks critical to success.

Comparing Volleyball to Other Sports: Is It Harder?

Many people wonder how volleyball stacks up against other popular sports in terms of difficulty. While drawing direct comparisons is challenging because each sport has unique demands and skill sets, we can provide some insights.

Volleyball or Basketball: Which is Harder?

Debating whether volleyball or basketball is harder? Funny you ask.

My dad was a basketball player and later a referee, so I grew up around the sport. However, when I gave it a shot, I found the contact aspect a bit too intense for my liking.

Then I discovered volleyball and fell in love with it from the beginning. The precision, power, and teamwork it required really appealed to me.

It’s not just reacting to the ball but predicting where it will be – a nuance that seasoned players would understand well.


  • Continuous back-and-forth movement: demands great endurance.
  • Skills involved: dribbling, shooting, defensive plays.
  • Requires quick decision-making and strategic play.
  • More physical contact with other players, like jostling for position and dealing with fouls.


  • It involves precise skills like serving, passing, setting, hitting, and blocking.
  • A high level of teamwork and communication is critical.
  • Anticipation is key: players predict where the ball will be rather than have time to react to where it is.
  • Less physical contact than basketball, but still physically demanding in its own way.

So, which is harder? Each sport has its unique challenges.

But volleyball was more my style for me, and I found it easier to learn because I loved everything about it.

Try both and see which one you prefer. Ultimately, the real joy of sport lies in embracing its challenges and honing your skills. That’s the true game!

How Does Volleyball Compare to Soccer in Terms of Difficulty?

Comparing volleyball to soccer is a bit like comparing apples and oranges.

While volleyball matches are intense, short bursts of effort, soccer requires long-term stamina and extensive running.

The rules and strategies in soccer might be easier to grasp for beginners, but the physical demands can be as challenging as volleyball.

Remember, volleyball requires a combination of explosive power, agility, and technical skills that are different from the continuous endurance and footwork skills required in soccer.

It’s not so much a matter of which sport is harder but which sport’s challenges resonate more with you.

Is Volleyball an Easy Sport to Learn Compared to Other Team Sports?

Volleyball, like many team sports, has a learning curve.

Compared to other sports, volleyball certainly requires a high degree of technical skill, physical fitness, mental toughness, and team coordination.

I remember how I personally had to spend significant time mastering skills like serving.

For instance, at the end of each training session, I had to serve the ball ten times onto a specific spot on the court. If I didn’t manage to do it, I had to stay back until I got it right. Some days this task was easier than others. But with time, my consistency improved.

So, while volleyball might be easy to pick up at a casual level, truly excelling at the sport is a challenging endeavor.

It requires dedication, resilience, and a deep appreciation of the game. That’s a lesson I learned on the court; “one serve at a time.”

In many ways, volleyball may not be an easy sport to learn, and the technical skills required might take some time to master

If you’re new to the sport and you’re just starting, you might find it easier to start in a position like a libero, where you primarily focus on defensive skills.

As you gain more volleyball experience, you might venture into more complex roles like the setter or attacker.

Every sport has its challenges, and being part of a team brings its own unique dynamics and complexities. But remember, these very challenges make the journey worthwhile and the victories sweet.

So, don’t let the difficulty discourage you from playing volleyball.

With persistence, patience, the right guidance, and improvement with each game, you’ll enjoy playing it and appreciate the camaraderie and growth that comes from being part of a team.

Stick with it, and the effort pays off in ways you might not expect.

The Journey of a Beginner: Starting to Play Volleyball

Learning a new sport can be daunting, especially when that sport is as multifaceted as volleyball. Yet, it’s never too late to start your journey, and the rewards of playing this beautiful game far outweigh the initial hurdles you may face.

How a Beginner Can Start Playing Volleyball

As with any sport, the first step to start playing volleyball is simply to try.

Look for local clubs or community sports centers that offer volleyball training or games. They often provide beginner-friendly environments where new players can learn the basics.

You can also practice basic skills at home. All you need is a ball and a wall to start practicing your serves, passes, and sets.

Another crucial aspect for beginners is to learn the rules of the game.

You can find many resources online that explain the rules in an easy-to-understand way.

Finally, don’t forget to watch some volleyball matches. It’s an excellent way to get a feel for the game and understand how the rules apply in action.

The Importance of Teamwork in Volleyball

Volleyball is a team sport through and through. The beauty of this game is that no player can single-handedly carry a team to victory. Each player has a specific role, and effective coordination between these roles is critical to success.

As a beginner, you’ll need to understand the importance of communication and trust in your teammates.

A successful pass, a well-timed set, and a powerful spike all rely on players working seamlessly together. Remember, a team communicating effectively and supporting each other often triumphs on the court.

Encouraging Words for Those Who Feel Discouraged from Playing Volleyball

It’s normal to feel discouraged when you’re just starting out in a sport as technical and team-oriented as volleyball.

Remember that every volleyball player, even the most skilled ones, started where you are now. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn, and each practice brings you one step closer to becoming a better player.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Volleyball is a hard sport to learn, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. It brings a unique sense of camaraderie, tests your mental and physical abilities, and provides countless moments of joy.

Keep going, keep practicing, and most importantly, keep having fun. The journey of learning volleyball is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.

What Makes a Great Volleyball Player

Becoming a great volleyball player goes beyond mastering the fundamentals. It’s about constantly improving, embracing teamwork, and understanding the subtleties of the game. Let’s examine the traits that can set you apart on the volleyball court.

The Importance of Practice: How to Train Hard for Volleyball

There’s no shortcut to becoming good at volleyball – it takes consistent, focused practice. From honing your serving accuracy to perfecting your setting technique, every skill in volleyball can be improved with regular training.

Begin with a routine focusing on passing, setting, and hitting fundamentals. Gradually incorporate more complex drills as you get comfortable. Remember, consistency is key. It’s better to practice for 30 minutes each day than to cram several hours of practice into a single session once a week.

Strength and conditioning training also plays a vital role. A volleyball player needs a good balance of strength, speed, agility, and endurance. Incorporating workouts that target these areas into your training routine will significantly improve your performance on the court.

The Role of Hand-Eye Coordination in Becoming a Great Player

Hand-eye coordination is an essential aspect of volleyball. Whether it’s accurately passing the ball, setting for a spike, or blocking an opponent’s hit, each movement requires precise coordination between your vision and your hand movements.

Drills that specifically enhance hand-eye coordination can be very beneficial. For instance, practice hitting a ball against a wall and receiving it – it’s a simple exercise, but it goes a long way in improving your passing and setting skills.

Sharing Tips on How Beginners Can Help Their Team On and Off the Court

Teamwork is at the heart of volleyball, and every player, regardless of their skill level, can contribute to the team’s success.

Here are some ways you can help your team:

  • Communicate effectively: In volleyball, communication is crucial. Whether calling for a ball, indicating a strategy, or encouraging a teammate, make sure you’re heard.
  • Support your teammates: Support isn’t just about cheering. It’s about being there for your teammates when they make mistakes and celebrating their successes.
  • Understand your role: Every player on a volleyball team has a specific role. Make sure you understand yours and strive to fulfill it to the best of your ability.

Remember, great volleyball players are measured by their individual skills and ability to elevate their team’s performance. So, embrace these tips, put in the hard work, and watch as you transform into a formidable player on the court.

Serving the final point…

Whether you’re a beginner questioning, “Is volleyball hard?” or an experienced player striving to improve, remember that every bump, set, and spike brings you one step closer to mastering this amazing sport.

Knowing what lies ahead is half the battle won. Like mine, your journey in volleyball will be filled with wins and losses, powerful spikes, and missed serves. Yet, the joy of playing, the camaraderie of a team, and the thrill of a well-played match make it all worth it.

As someone who’s spent nearly a decade on the court, I encourage you to apply this knowledge, whether you’re playing your first game, trying out for a new position, or watching from the sidelines. You’ll soon see that understanding these intricacies greatly enriches your experience of the game.

Let me end with a quote from Karch Kiraly, a true legend of volleyball:

“Not everything you’re going to do in volleyball – or in life, for that matter – is exciting or fully functional, but if you have the willpower to make each minute count, you’ll benefit in some way. And it will make you a better player and a better person in the long run.”

So, are you ready to embrace the challenge and become a more active participant in the thrilling world of volleyball?

Remember, volleyball may be hard, but the reward is an exhilarating sport that builds physical strength, character, resilience, and lifelong friendships. Dive in, give it your all, and remember to enjoy every moment on the court.

The world of volleyball is waiting for you!

If you found this information valuable, why not serve it up to your friends and fellow volleyball enthusiasts? You might just help someone score the winning point in their next game!

Don’t stop here. Explore more on our website,, to fuel your passion and elevate your game. We have plenty more articles waiting for you.

See you on the court!