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New to Volleyball in NoVA

Volleyball is a fun competitive team sport that continues to gain popularity.  A recent ESPN story sited the National Federation of State High School Associations finding that more high school girls are playing volleyball than basketball, a shift that has been trending for many years.

This page attempts to address questions some may have who are new to the sport of volleyball or new to the volleyball scene in Northern Virginia.  If you have suggestions to improve the information, send a note to


Volleyball is a great activity for school-aged boys and girls.  It's an open and friendly game available at different levels of play that welcomes anyone interesting in learning, playing and enjoying the sport.  It can also teach several valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment, perseverance, and sportsmanship.


Here are some guidelines for parents interested in starting their children playing volleyball.

  • 3rd Grade and Under - Due to  size, coordination and attention span considerations, very few volleyball programs exist for this age group.  Those that do, focus on "mini-volleyball" which is gaining popularity as a novel way to introduce the sport.  Check out St. James' Lil SpikersNVVA's Volley Juniors and Areyto's Mini-Volleyball.
  • 4th-5th Grades - Most recreation volleyball programs start with this age group.  Participants are beginning to transform, gaining the strength and coordination to play the game effectively.  Programs focus on teaching the fundamental skills of passing, setting, hitting and serving, and the basics of team play.  The net height is set at 7'0" for both boys and girls.
  • 6th Grade -  Considered by many a magical age for youth volleyball players.  Many are still learning fundamentals but an increasing number are developing intermediate to advanced skills.  Many club volleyball programs have their entry level U12 teams for this age group.
  • 7th-8th Grades - Youth recreational programs see their highest number of participants in this age group.  There are still beginners learning the game, but an increasing number  are joining more competitive recreational select/travel/open programs, with advanced players joining club U13 and U14 teams.  The net height is set at 7'4" for both boys and girls.
  • 9th-10th Grades - With the start of high school volleyball programs, the sport for girls shifts from an inclusive recreational focus to a more exclusive one where a limited number of players are now representing their school and indulging in its rivalries.  Casual players begin to drop playing organized volleyball.   However, club volleyball is at its numeric peak with a large number of U15 and U16 teams filled with those from Freshman and JV teams emerging from months of daily practices on school teams.  An increasing number of boys teams associated with high schools also emerge. The net height for girls remains at 7'4" while the boys net moves to 8 feet.
  • 11th-12 Grades - With "up-or-out" policies used by many girls high school school programs, the number of girls playing school-sponsored volleyball at this age drops to a limited number of advanced players on school varsity teams.  The number of club teams also drops off as players must balance the demands of academics and athletics during their last two years of high school.  Some consider a future playing volleyball in college.


The availability of school gyms usually determines when volleyball programs are run.  Many regional school systems have policies to avoid conflicts with other indoor sports (ex. basketball) by giving certain sports preferential gym access  during certain seasons.  Here's a rough outline.


Always start local.  Northern Virginia is fortunate to have a large number of youth recreational volleyball program in all counties and major localities.  This allows younger players the opportunity to learn and enjoy team volleyball in a comfortable and safe environment.  All recreational programs should be considered equal with committed volunteers helping to teach fundamental skills. 

Once players move up the skill and experience curve, it may make sense to travel to more advanced programs, usually club teams, that best align with an individual's coaching and playing interests. 


For adults, volleyball can be both good exercise and an enjoyable social vehicle.  It is a welcoming sport available for both men and women at different levels of interest, skill and experience.  The team aspects can also create friendship and social bonds that last for a lifetime.  Visit the adult section of this website for more details.


Volleyball is very egalitarian with few limits on who can play.    Many of those in leagues only started playing volleyball as adults or rekindled their love for the sport after a period of absence.   The game is not limited to only tall people and those who are highly athletic.  Program usually have different leagues based on skill level (see the skills chart on the adult indoor page).


There are a wide array of leagues, drop-ins, meet-ups and clinics available to adults.  Link to these programs can be found throughout this site.


For adults, there usually just two seasons: indoor and outdoor.  Based on gym availability, indoor programs run basically from September through June.  Outdoor programs from May to October while the weather is nice.


Look at the adult section of this site to find opportunities.  Local is always nice, but many adults will need to travel to the limited locations that run adult programs.


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