In the winter of 1895, a YMCA director in Massachusetts created a game you could play indoors with any amount of people and called it “Mintonette”. The game was a cross between handball and tennis. Mintonette was designed to be a less active or less rough sport for the older YMCA members to play instead of the harsher and more athletic sports like basketball or football.
The original rules of Mintonette called for a net in the size of 6 feet and 6 inches, a court in the size of 25 x 50 feet, any amount of players and a ball. A full Mintonette match consisted of 9 innings, with 3 serves of the ball made by each team in each inning. There was no limit to the number of times each team could hit the ball before sending it over the net to the other team’s side. If a server was not able to hit the ball over the net properly, they were allowed one more try. Back then, ladies who played Mintonette were allowed to protect their delicate fingers by catching the ball and then throwing it back into play, instead of hitting the ball with their hands.
At a Mintonette exhibition game in 1896, an observer named Alfred Halstead noted that the players were “vollying” the ball back and forth, from then on the game was named “Volley ball”. Originally, the game was “volley ball” with two separate words, but “volley ball” slowly became one word. The game quickly spread around the US via branches of the YMCA in dozens of other states and cities around the United States. In the year 1900, a new ball was customized and made specifically for use in the game of volleyball.
In the early 1900’s, the playing methods of the spike and the set were introduced to the game. Later on, a new rule was instated that each team could only touch the ball a maximum of 3 times before having to send the ball over the net to their opponents. Around 1919, the AEF, or American Expeditionary Forces sent over 16000 volleyballs to troops and allies all over the world, which helped volleyball become popular and well known globally, instead of just in the US.
The earliest non US adoptor of volleyball was Canada, helping to popularize the game in that country as early as 1900. Many countries adopted the game and it’s now a popular sport in China, Japan, Brazil, Russia and all over Europe. The game is quite popular in Japan, with it being a popular team sport in high schools there. In the Spring of 2005, a television drama based on volleyball was produced and aired in Japan, it was called Attack No. 1, starring one of the most popular Japanese performers, Ueto Aya. Volleyball continues to be a popular sport to play as well as watch on television in Japan.
In 1947, an international federation of volleyball was formed and the first volleyball world championships were held in 1949. In 1964, volleyball was added as a sport in the Olympics.