How to Start Playing Volleyball

April 12, 2024

Whether you’re a complete novice to the sport, you played in high school, or just messed around with your friends, getting into volleyball is a relatively easy task with a number of mental and physical health benefits. Volleyball is a dynamic team sport that aids you in making new friends, getting in a good workout, and it gives you something to do (other than binge Netflix, not that we’re judging). While getting into the sport might seem like a bit of a challenge, it’s actually one of the more accessible recreational sports in North America, in this blog we’ll walk you through some of the need-to-know tips and tricks for beginner and novice volleyball players.

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Understanding the Game

So, you’ve picked volleyball as your go-to sport, and you’re likely already familiar with the concept of volleyball, two teams stand on opposite sides of a net trying to keep the ball off their side, but is that really all there is to the sport? Of course not, volleyball is a dynamic sport that requires a good deal of skill and focus to keep the game alive. To get a full understanding of the sport we suggest you check out this article for an A-Z description of all the things you need to know about volleyball, but we’ll also give a quick summary here as well: 

  • Volleyball is made up of two teams with 6 players each and games go up to 21 points (win by 2)
  • The goal in volleyball is to score a point by landing the ball on your opponent's side of the court. 
  • Teams can only touch the ball 3 times before it must go over the net, if you touch the ball a fourth time the other team receives a point. 
  • A rally typically starts with one team serving the ball to the other, the receiving team can bump, set and spike the ball back to their opponent, and the rally will continue until the ball either hits the floor or goes out. 
  • Volleyball teams can use different rotations and strategies to win rallies, but it’s important to remember that this is a team game, and collaboration is the key to success. 

‍Finding a Game 

Once you’ve got down the basics it’s time to find your first game and get to playing. For new players we recommend that you start off with a training session, these sessions help you to get a better understanding of the game, and equip you with the core skills you’ll need to adequately play. Not only can you find general training sessions that cover a range of skills, but you can also likely find clinics for specific areas of improvement like blocking, hitting or passing. To find a training session in your city simply Google: Beginner Volleyball Training Session + City Name (add blocking, hitting or passing to the query to find specific clinics).

If you’re looking for a training clinic in Toronto, find one today on the Javelin App: 

Once you’ve attended a beginner session (or a few, everyone learns at a different pace) it’s time to find your first game and put those skills to use. Finding a game both at your skill level and in your city can be a little bit trickier than finding a clinic. Typically, indoor volleyball comes in three different formats: (rated best for beginners to worst) 

Drop-ins / Open Gyms 

Drop-in volleyball games usually run at a consistent time, day and place week over week, but have an inconsistent roster. Drop-in games charge on a game-by-game basis, and you’ll likely find games range in price from $5 - $15 for two hours of gameplay. The benefit of drop-in games is that anyone can join them, and usually, you’ll see new faces each week you attend because sometimes life gets in the way, and when one player can’t attend the game another is ready to take their place. One drawback to drop in games is skill level, sometimes players can be above or below the game's advertised skill level, throwing off the pace of the game. At the beginner/recreational level, this isn’t really an issue since most of the players you’re playing with are new, and likely as experienced as you are. 

Leagues / Clubs

Volleyball leagues usually run at a consistent time, place, and day every week with a set roster of players. Typically, leagues run for 8-12 weeks and accept registrations from pre-made teams or free agents. Pre-made teams usually consist of players who have played together for some time and have some familiarity with each other's playing style, allowing them to excel against less familiar teams. Free agents on the other hand are those who do not have a team and get assigned to a team if they are missing players, alternatively, some leagues are in such high demand that they have teams made up completely of free agents. Leagues typically charge all at once, and you’ll end up paying the same $5 - $15 per game which works out to $40 - $120 per player for the season. While a recreational volleyball league might be harder to come by than a drop-in game, but it is a good option if you have 5 friends who also play volleyball that you’d like to play with exclusively. 


Beginner/Recreational tournaments are pretty rare, tournaments usually happen at higher levels of play like Intermediate or Advanced. A volleyball tournament is usually a 1-2 day-long event consisting of 8-16 teams competing for first place. Teams are placed in brackets and face off against rival teams until they inevitably climb through the ranks or get disqualified from the event. Tournaments typically don’t have free agents (some do), this is a team event that can cost anywhere from $200 - $500 per team with cash prizes (usually for the top 3 teams). While recreational tournaments are few and far between, they can still be a fun venture for your team if you can find them, and who doesn’t love a cash prize? 

What’s Next? 

Once you’ve been playing for a while you might get really good at volleyball, this is when you should consider moving up a skill level. The beginner/recreational level is great for most casual players, you could spend years playing at this level and have consistent fun each time. But, sometimes players want to challenge themselves and climb the skill ladder, this is when you’d move to High Recreational, Intermediate and if you’re really good, Advanced. Typically, the high recreational level is the perfect stepping stone for players, here you can determine if slightly more competitive rallies are perfect for you, or if you want to really push yourself. The Intermediate level is a great level for players who are good at volleyball and want a semi-competitive play environment. The Advanced level is usually for highly skilled players who have been playing for years or received high-level coaching.

In order to move up a skill level you need to do more than just be a good player. Moving up skill levels requires a lot of dedicated play time, coaching, and studying up on more advanced strategies, rotations and tactics. Remember, go after whichever level you think you’re going to enjoy the most, if you like casual play and just want to have fun then the recreational level will deliver, if you’re more competitive and want to push yourself then the skies the limit! 

Looking for an easy way to find pickup volleyball games? Javelin is the easiest way to find volleyball pickups near you!

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