The volleyball net is one of the few things we can’t play volleyball without. But why is the net height different for men and women? I will share with you my opinion. Then there are situations where we could attract and keep more people in volleyball if we adjusted the height of the net for different groups of people. At least that’s how I’ll be thinking out loud in this video.
Why is the net height different for men and women?
Why is the net height different for men and women? Sure, it would be easy to have a uniform net height for all men’s and women’s competitions. For example, in basketball, both men and women have the basket the same height at 305 centimeters. Similarly, in soccer, the field and goal size is the same for both men and women.
So many of you may be asking the question. Why shouldn’t we have the same net height in volleyball for men and women? The answer is not simple and it is not for me to judge whether it would be a good solution. On the contrary, I think there are at least two reasons why it is good for men and women to have different net heights. First, men are generally taller, the average man is taller than the average woman. That’s a fact. And professional volleyball players are around 2 meters tall. Of course there are exceptions like Dmitry Muserskyi. Women professional volleyball players are ten centimeters or more smaller. Secondly, men have a naturally stronger physique and muscles than women. Men are more muscular, faster, have more strength and also jump higher. Based on these facts, it would be unfair for women to have the same high net as men. Or for men to play on a women’s net.
The height of the men’s net
The height of the men’s net is set at 243 centimeters and applies to all world and smaller regional competitions. I dare say that most volleyball players are around 180 centimeters or more and when men stand at the net and stretch out their hand, they reach the top of the net or their fingers are above the net.
As I mentioned before, men are stronger than women, they jump more. Therefore, they can have the volleyball net higher than women. Imagine the world’s best attackers having a jump reach of over 360 centimeters. These players are head above the net when they jump, they hit at the height where the antenna ends. They hit the ball about 320 centimeters above the ground. On the other side, they are blocked by players who also have their head above the net. But you don’t see them hit the head very often.
Professional volleyball players usually hit the ball right at the level of the blocking players’ fingers and palms. For professional volleyball players and two-meter players jumping a meter off the ground, the net at 243 centimeters is maybe even lower. On the other hand, the vast majority of volleyball players, tens of millions of players and perhaps hundreds of millions of amateur players do not jump this high, they are not over two meters tall and the net at 243 centimeters is ideally high for them.
The height of the women’s net
The height of the women’s volleyball net is 224 centimeters. The women’s sport is evolving, many women’s volleyball matches are full of great physical performances at this time. Some professional volleyball players are already hitting the ball at almost a hundred kilometers per hour.
But after all, women are smaller in height than men. Most female volleyball players measure from 165 centimeters upwards.
So, if women had a net at the same height as men, it would put them at a big disadvantage. We wouldn’t see as many attacks, it would be more of a lob over a high net to the other side. Also, a lot of women wouldn’t jump with their hands over the net, they wouldn’t block. Women’s jumping ability is lower, top volleyball players have a 310, 320 centimeters reach in the jump.
That’s why the net height for women is lower, at 224 centimeters to be exact. A lower net is necessary for women if we are talking about attack and block. But at the same time, the lower net for women plays a big role in serving and receiving. Certainly, we can find enough women who are good in jump serve and their serve reaches almost the qualities of men. But on the other hand, the vast majority of women are serving a float serve, and a net almost 20 centimeters lower than the men’s allows them to make more dangerous floating serve than the men’s.
I experienced this myself when we played a match in high school against a team of girls the same age. As boys, we thought we could easily beat the girls. We were taller, we jumped higher. We were kings at the net, we attacked wherever we wanted, the girls couldn’t stop us or block us. We were hitting over their blocks. But once the girls were on serve, we couldn’t receive their serves. Their float serve, flying just over the low net was completely different than what we were used to. So in the end, we were happy to win 3-2.
Net height for youth
The height of the volleyball net for youth cannot be the same as for adults. Youth volleyball players are usually not as tall and do not jump as high as adults.Each country defines the height of the youth volleyball net according to its own rules, of course in accordance with international youth competitions. Also, when I mention mini volleyball, action volley and other forms of volleyball for the youngest children, here too we find different approaches of national volleyball schools and programmes regarding net height. If you look for exact parameters and net heights for youth international competitions, the FIVB does not define exact net heights for youth categories in the current volleyball rules guidebook. At least I couldn’t find them there.
Volleyball net and smaller volleyball players
What about the volleyball net and smaller volleyball players? Certainly, greater body height plays a big role in volleyball. Being 210 centimeters or 170 centimeters makes a big difference for volleyball.
If you want to play professional men’s volleyball on a net that is 243 centimeters and you want to be an outside hitter or opposite, you need to be at least 190 centimeters. It’s similar for women. The taller you are, the better qualified you are for volleyball. Or you need to direct your volleyball steps to the libero position, where height no longer plays such a crucial role and players 160 centimetres tall have a chance to make it at any level of competition.
On the other hand, I have already seen some thoughts on how to spread volleyball to smaller people. Because a lot of boys, girls or even adults, if they find out that they are 170 centimeters tall, their chances of playing volleyball even once at a high level are small. And then they often quit volleyball because they don’t see a future in it. Volleyball is played by over 800 million people. But we have about 8 billion people in the world. So about 10% of all people play volleyball. I see great potential here in the future to increase the number of people playing volleyball.
One idea is to create competitions for smaller volleyball players, for volleyball players smaller than 185 centimeters. For example, 185 centimeters would be the upper limit for men. For these players, a net at 224 centimeters, the level of the women’s net, might be suitable.
The same procedure and rules with lowering the net could apply for smaller women. This could bring millions more people into volleyball who are not tall enough to play volleyball on standard high nets. If competitions were then created, for these smaller players, if they had some big international competition or event, it could bring a lot to volleyball.
By lowering the nets for the smaller players we would create the basic conditions for all people in the world to play volleyball, there would be no need to adjust any more rules. The size of the court would remain the same. Then we could have a chance for half of all people in the world to play volleyball.
Volleyball net and veteran volleyball players
While we’re talking about net height for men, women and smaller volleyball players, I’ll touch on net height for volleyball seniors. Here in the Czech Republic we have senior competitions over 40 and 50 for men and women. Even in these competitions for experienced volleyball players, I would see the possibility of defining a lower net height with regard to age. Yes, men will still be taller than women, but the jump decreases rapidly with age. Every volleyball player will experience this, don’t expect big jumps after 40. Which is why a lower net height would again be a possible solution to keep people at volleyball after 40 or 50.
Originally I was only going to describe the reasons why the net height is different for men and women, but I ended up thinking about the possible future of attracting more people to volleyball.