Indoor or outdoor, beach or inside of a gym, net or no net, the most essential part of volleyball is the volleyball itself. Without the ball, you’ve got next to nothing. It is that important a part of the puzzle, and because of that, we are going to be taking a look at the most popular volleyballs of 2019 today. The process of picking a volleyball can be difficult at first for some. With so many choices and brands available on the internet and in person, it’s tough to pick out what you want and need and also what you don’t need. We’ll help you wade through all of that today with our guide, and then we’ll be taking a look at the most popular ones out there before answering any FAQ’s. So, let’s spike it!
Top Volleyballs Comparison Chart
|Product||Indoor or Outdoor||Cover||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Tachikara Institutional Leather Volleyball||Indoor||Woven-Fiber v100 Composite||$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Molten Flistatec NCAA and FIVB Volleyball||Indoor||Micro-fiber Composite||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Tachikara SV-MNC Volley-Lite||Indoor||Synthetic||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Mikasa MVA200 Indoor Olympic Games Ball||Indoor||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Wilson Graffiti Volleyball||Outdoor||Synthetic Leather||$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Wilson Soft Play Outdoor Volleyball||Outdoor||Synthetic Leather||$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Spalding King of the Beach Official Tour Volleyball||Outdoor||Hand Stitched||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
Volleyballs Buying Guide
Indoor or Outdoor
The first major dividing line that you have to look at with volleyballs is where you will be using them. Figuring this out should be easy, but if you don’t get it right, you might just find yourself disappointed with the end result. With that said, both types can cross over into the other category, so it’s not always easy for people to tell the differences between then. An indoor volleyball is a name given to a ball that is a little bit softer. This type is also going to be less heavy than an outdoor ball. It’s easy to see where this is going, isn’t it? Because of the lightness of the ball and the softness, it’s going to be easier on the hands and wrists for sure, but there is a reason it’s called an ‘indoor’ ball. It’s because indoor use is going to get the most durability from it due to the soft nature of the ball. It should also be noted that an indoor ball is going to make less noise than an outdoor ball when it hits the floor. The reason for this is just because it’s lighter and softer.
An outdoor ball is going to be heavier and also a little bit harder. Because of that, it can take a lot of hits outside and just keep on ticking. Outdoor volleyballs are also engineered to make sure that they don’t take on extreme amounts of water. This ensures your ball doesn’t get ‘waterlogged,’ which is just awful if you have ever experienced it. An outdoor volleyball stands up to consistent big hitters over time better than an indoor volleyball, and it also will stand up well from all sorts of debris that might be hanging around. If you’re on the beach, it’ll be alright with this type of ball.
The recommendation here is that if you are just playing for fun and won’t be playing all that often that you get an indoor ball. Sure, you will be a little more susceptible to the ball getting dirty and taking on water and it won’t last as long, but you will get a better feel and won’t be left hurting when you are done. This type is also the choice of indoor games, as it’s just a heck of a lot softer when you have those heavy hitters slamming the ball at you. If you are going to be practicing a whole lot with your ball, then the best idea is to go with an outdoor ball. It might not feel as good as the indoor ball when it hits you, but it will last much longer for you and you will also train your wrists and hands to deal with the hardest of hits. That can only serve you well in your volleyball playing career, whether you want to just play in high school or work yourself all the way up. So, despite the names, you can use either indoor or outdoor. It’s really just a matter of how much durability you want and how much (or how little) comfort you want.
Most people wouldn’t be shocked to learn that the first volleyballs were made out of leather. This material was preferential for a lot of reasons. It was easy to find it, via livestock, and it produced a really nice feel. However, leather isn’t the best when you bring the elements into play. And, as we discussed earlier, that softness isn’t the best recipe for durability if you are going to be pounding it into the floor consistently. So, that is the reason why companies have started to go with synthetic materials in subsequent years. Synthetics are simply man made products that look to mimic leather, in this instance, at least. They do this by trying to get as much of the same features and bringing them to you in a package that lasts longer. In the old, beginning days of synthetics, they were often viewed as hard and harsh. But that was then and this is now. Synthetics have come a long way, and many, many players now prefer them. They can hold up much better than their predecessors and they also can offer a wide range of other benefits. There is still a place for leather, it must be said, and it can do a fine job, so either will work well for you!
Factors to Keep in Mind
There are a few variables that you should know about, and here is where we will look at them. These things can determine how much fun you have while playing!
This factor is pretty easy to figure out. If you are playing and you find that the ball hurts, then you are probably going to want to find something else. The softness of the ball changes from one ball to the next, so it’s possible to get a ball that is tailored just for your needs. If you are playing with younger kids, it’s wise to sort of stray to the soft side. It’s also a good idea to go with a good, middle of the road option if you are playing with a group of people, too. If it’s just your ball, though, you can do whatever you like because you don’t have to worry about others all that much.
This might seem like it is just an aesthetic thing, and to a degree, it is. But there is more than what meets the eye here. The color of the ball is also important depending on when and where you are going to be playing. If you are playing outside and you are getting close to losing daylight, then you are going to want to have a ball that is yellow or green- a neon look. White does a decent job in the dark as well, but those colors are preferable compared to others. Thankfully, this isn’t as huge a deal as in some sports where it can be downright impossible to see the ball when it gets darker. Also, color is about your style, too. A guy isn’t likely to want to play with a pink ball or call it his own, so that is always a factor.
Believe it or not, the size of the ball changes quite a bit in the volleyball world. Unless you are playing for your school team or in some sort of league, you don’t have to play with a specified size. This frees you up and gives you the ability to experiment with the sizes and find the optimal size for you and the players you’ll be playing with. This is really awesome, and it lets you get the most out of your individual game. If you are going to be playing in leagues or tournaments, it’s smart to just go with a regulation sized ball, even when it comes to practice. There is little to no point in practicing with a ball that won’t be anything like what you are going to be playing with in matches!
The weight of the ball is going to also be able to be altered as well. This might not seem to be important, but it can make a ton of difference for beginners. Players that are starting out have a hard enough time getting their form and positioning right, so they need all the help that they can get. A ball with less weight, then, is the best option for them because it will be slower. This means the ball won’t arrive as quickly and it will give them more time to get in place. It’s also going to be less hard on them physically as it won’t hurt as much when it does hit them. For obvious reasons, this is the best bet for those that are just beginning to play the game and youth players. If you have a family, this is the best way to go as well because it levels the players out a bit, as much as you can at least.
Price has to be mentioned here. This is always going to play a key role in any purchase decision. Price of a volleyball can be cheap, but you should be careful by doing this. A cheap volleyball is one that is not likely to hold up as well. It will lose air pressure quicker and a lot of times will hurt more than a good, decent priced ball. However, if you are not playing very often, a cheap ball could be just the way you want to go. There’s little point in spending a lot of money when it will not be used and will end up sitting in a toy bin or in the basement. If you are playing quite often, it’s smart to just spend the money necessary to get a good ball. You don’t have to spend to get a tournament grade ball, by any means, but it’s worth spending a few extra dollars to get a ball that will look and feel good and one that will hold up much better than the cheapest balls out on the market.
A lot of people like to show brand loyalty, and that is the case when it comes to volleyball in some circles. There are a lot of good companies that make both balls and other equipment for the game of volleyball. We won’t name them all here, but chances are if you haven’t heard of it, then it’s probably not going to be the best quality. With that said, volleyball does have a couple of unsung and lesser known manufacturers involved, so just because you haven’t heard or aren’t super familiar (maybe you are brand new to the game) with them does not mean they aren’t capable of making high quality goods. Most of the time, each brands has several tiers of balls, so you will be able to pick a tier that fits your game. The higher the tier, the higher the price you will ultimately pay. Simple as that!
Let’s Review The Top 7 Volleyballs of 2019!
Tachikara Institutional Leather Volleyball
If you’re looking for a a durable ball that is also affordable while offering you excellent touch and ability to practice well, then Tachikara has one for you. This leather volleyball comes in four different colors and has that classic look to it for the sport we all know and love. The single unit construction of this ball is what makes it stand out and allows it to be so affordable and reliable. With no paneling involved, it’s able to withstand the hard hits and last a while. While this ball isn’t going to be the best of all-time for games, it’s definitely a great practice ball that is sure to make you and your wallet happy at the same time. This is a good in between ball that’s not too soft or too hard, so it’s great in that regard as well.
- Four colors to pick from
- Very affordable
- Durable thanks to single unit construction
- Not the best for games
- Does get waterlogged so not great outdoors
Molten Flistatec NCAA and FIVB Volleyball
This ball from Molten is used by the NCAA, FIVB, and also Team USA exclusively, so there is a reason why it is used by them. The ball has three great colors and comes with a two year warranty. With an official weight and size, it can be used in all sort of games. Using a microfiber composite cover, you can barely notice that panels are stitched together. It’s an ultra consistent ball thanks to heir flistatec technology that forces the ball to stay on path as you’d expect it to. With nice, tiny grooves on the ball, it’s also got great grip and is excellent for digging the ball out of dangerous spots. One note is that this is quite an expensive ball, so be aware of that fact. Another thing is that it is not approved for high school play, so that could be a deterrent as well.
- Very visible colors
- Very consistent flight of the ball
- Excellent amount of grip provided
- Pretty expensive
- Not for high school games or tournaments
Tachikara SV-MNC Volley-Lite
Tachikara reenters the list at #3 with another affordable ball that is slightly more expensive than the last. The Volley-Lite comes in a multitude of colors and is made with a lighter weight. This means that this ball is going to be great for those that want a softer touch and want to get better acquainted with the proper form and technique needed to improve. This indoor ball is thus great for younger players and also can do a very good job for players that are practicing because it does level out the playing field a bit by slowing the ball down some. The cover is synthetic, which is different from what we have seen so far, but that just serves to make it softer to the touch. This is best for players 12 and under, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to stop you from playing with it because it is both affordable and going to allow everyone to feel good while playing. It has a normal size, but the weight is less than regulation.
- Great for 12 and under
- Same size but lighter weight
- Softer touch allows for better learning
- Not regulation weight
Mikasa MVA200 Indoor Olympic Games Ball
If you are looking to be like the Olympians, then this is just the ball for you. This is the ball that was used in the indoor Olympians in the last three editions and it sports a yellow and blue Michigan Wolverine-esque look to it. Using microfiber, the ball has eight panels and swirls. This allows for a bigger contact zone, while the microfiber has dimples to it to allow you to have greater touch and control on your shots. It also means the ball flies through the air faster, too, so it’s definitely a ball meant for the better players of the game. Still, though, it is able to be soft thanks to having a gap between the panels and the bladder. The biggest negative to this ball is going to be the price. Closely behind is the fact that it’s going to come at some players too quickly and won’t allow them to pick it up in time!
- Visibility increased with color
- Huge contact zone
- Awesome for the very best players
- Not great for learning to play
- Pretty expensive to buy
Wilson Graffiti Volleyball
If you are looking for something much more casual, then the Graffiti ball from Wilson is one you could turn to. Not only is it very cool looking, but it’s also the most affordable product on our list so far. Sporting 18 panels and a butyl bladder, this ball is also an official size. The ball is constructed using synthetics and has a soft touch as a result of that. While there are some that are softer than this one, it still does a good job and will hold up well. This is very much a recreational ball, so if you are going to be playing a ton you should be looking elsewhere. The durability is going to be good, but not all that great thanks to all of the panels, and with more panels, there is a higher chance that something can and will go wrong. A lot of players still find this ball to be too hard for their tastes, so if you are just starting out, you should look some place else before you transition to this one.
- Really awesome price
- Look to make you stand out
- Official size and weight
- A lot still find it too hard to play with
- Not as durable for players that play a ton of volleyball
Wilson Soft Play Outdoor Volleyball
Coming in with an even lower price point than the other Wilson is the Soft Play, which is the top seller in the world of volleyballs because of its ease of access, price, and also the feel. The thing that the soft play does is give everyone a chance to play without hurting too much. Using a sponge backed cover to help with the synthetic leather, this ball is super easy to the touch. On top of that, this ball comes in a range of colors that will no doubt leave you happy. Even though it’s labeled as an outdoor ball, you can rest assured that the ball is going to feel good for you. With that said, there are some small issues, though. For one, with any ball this cheap durability is going to be a problem. So don’t expect it to last forever. Also, just because it is soft doesn’t mean it is light. So if you are looking for an entry point for a youth player, this isn’t necessarily the right choice to make.
- Very soft ball
- Fantastically low price
- Lots of colors
- Still heavy for young players
- Durability will be small issue
Spalding King of the Beach Official Tour Volleyball
If you are hitting the beach, then you could do far worse than the King of the Beach from Spalding. This ball is the official volleyball of the Beach Tour for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, the ball is an all-weather ball, meaning it can withstand just about anything outside. Using a hand stitched cover and a composite panel, the ball is going to last a long time and also feel good and be responsive in outdoor play. This is not a ball for the faint of heart, it must be said. Beach volleyball, at the competitive level, is rough and tumble. That means the ball is not super soft to the touch. So if that’s what you are looking for, this definitely isn’t the outdoor ball you want. It’s also a little bit light, too, though, because you’re only playing in pairs and want a little better chance to return the ball than you’d have with a heavy one. It’s also fairly expensive, too, so that’s another downer for some.
- Lasts a long time
- Great in all sorts of weather
- Professional grade ball
- Not very soft
- Lighter than indoor ball
- Too expensive for many
Conclusion And Final Volleyballs Recommendations
The game of volleyball was originally introduced as a more leisurely alternative to basketball. As time has gone on, though, it’s become anything but. It’s just as competitive, and the game has evolved. As such, the ball has been forced to change, too, and we are now left with a multitude of options. Options are good, but they also cause us to get confused when presented with oh so many choices. That’s our current scenario, well at least before this guide. Now that we have gotten through this guide, though, you’ll have a much firmer understanding of the ins and outs volleyballs and you’ll be able to make a much more informed decision about what you want from your experience. Look below for more questions you might have!
FAQ’s About Volleyballs
* Will My Ball Be Pumped When It Arrives?
This just depends on where you purchase your ball from. If you are ordering your ball and it will be mailed to you, then you can pretty much count on it arriving at your door flat. This is done not only to make shipping costs lower but also for safety reason. Theoretically, a person could fill a ball with any sort of gas they wanted, so this is one reason shipping and transportation companies do not allow this. If you are buying from a store, you should be getting a fully pumped ball on most occasions. Either way, it’s still a good idea to buy a pump and a couple of needles. Make sure to moisten the needle before use!
* Are All Indoor Volleyballs Softer Than Outdoor?
No, they are not. Generally speaking, an indoor volleyball is going to be softer, but this is not always the case. Because some brands are moving toward outdoor balls that are quite soft for their consumers, this is not always the case 100% of the time. If you find yourself playing on the beach for fun, then, you can still get a soft ball that will also hold up pretty well.
* How Do I Maintain My Volleyball?
Maintaining anything is part of the recipe for making it as durable as possible. With a volleyball, you will need to take certain measures to make sure it lasts as long as possible. Keeping it aired up properly is a good way. No one wants to play with a ball that isn’t aired up right, and neither should you. Keeping it clean is easy, too. Just wipe it down with water and a rag directly after use, and it will look brand new for much longer than you’d think! A big one a lot of people don’t think of is to put it in a climate-controlled environment. A lot of people just think that bringing it inside will help. This is better than leaving it in the backyard for the winter, sure, but leaving it in the basement will also see the air pressure wane over time, which could possibly lead to its early demise.
* What Else Might I Need to Play?
Other than a net, which you’re probably going to already have covered in some form or fashion, the first thing you’re going to want are knee pads. If you’re going to be serious about playing, you’re going to be wanting them as you will be diving for the ball in some scenarios. This could be downright dangerous and destructive without a good pair of knee pads. Shoes are also essential. Without good shoes that support and protect you, both in jumping and in moving laterally, you will be toast. So don’t forget this piece of the puzzle, either!
* What’s The Difference Between Beach and Indoor Volleyball?
Beach volleyball is a whole different animal to that of indoor volleyball. Indoor volleyball is played by teams of six at the competitive level. Beach volleyball, though, is played with pairs. This requires a whole lot more stamina as they have to hit the ball a lot more, and it’s a lot more grueling because that results in more diving and they’ve got to deal the elements that are associated with playing outside. Both can be very strenuous, no doubt, but beach volleyball is more likely to wear you out.
* Can You Practice By Yourself?
It might not be the easiest sport in the world to practice for by yourself, but it is very possible to practice volleyball by yourself. There are plenty of things that you can do to improve, it just takes time and effort to do. You can hit the ball into a wall, for starters, to practice your digs and also to get better at setting the ball. You can also practice your jump serves as well, which can be a very valuable skill as you work your way up the ladder. To really get better, playing with a friend is the best way. That way you can play ‘pepper’ with one another and learn the proper techniques for hitting the ball back and forth. It takes a little creativity at times to play by yourself, but you can definitely do it and get better while doing it.