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Volleyball | Healthy Sport Index | Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program

4th

out of 10

Volleyball

Girls

Volleyball is a sport that involves many basic movement skills, particularly jumping and overhead swings of the arm, and it requires quick bursts of strength, balance, agility and hand-eye coordination. Recommended complementary/alternate sports for volleyball players include cross country and track and field.

Rankings in orange circles compare this sport with nine other sports offered for this gender before customization – meaning each of the three health categories is given an equal one-third weighting. The ranking is comprised of data collected or developed from various sources (75% of score) and expert opinion (25% of score). The healthiest sports in each of the three categories – physical activity, safety and psychosocial benefits – and in each data measurement are ranked No. 1. Note: Some sports did not have significant differences between each other in the data. Learn more about our methodology.

4th

out of 10

Physical Activity

Expert Opinion Rank: 8th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Volleyball physical activity at practices ranks fourth among the 10 girls sports studied by North Carolina State University. Volleyball has 48 percent vigorous activity; the 10 girls sports average 39.6 percent. Forty-eight percent of volleyball practice time focuses on skills compared to 12 percent on fitness.

1 North Carolina State University research observing high school athletes in North Carolina, 2017-18.

6th

out of 10

Safety

11.5

Injury Rate2

(6th out of 10)

9.8%

Injury Time/Loss3

(7th out of 10)

0

Catastrophic Rate4

(T-1st out of 10)

2.7%

Injuries Requiring Surgery5

(4th out of 10)

3.1

Concussion Rate6

(6th out of 10)

Expert Opinion Rank: T-5th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Volleyball is in the middle of the pack for injury rates among girls sports, according to the Nation High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study. Ankle, head/face, knee and shoulder are the most common injuries. Volleyball fares well compared to other sports for injuries that require surgery.

2 Injury rate per 10,000 exposures, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
3 Percentage of all injuries resulting in greater than three weeks of time loss from the sport, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
4 Non-fatal catastrophic injury/illness rate per 100,000 exposures, National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, 1982-2016.
5 Percentage of all injuries requiring surgery, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
6 Concussion rate per 10,000 exposures, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.

5th

out of 10

Psychosocial

Aspen Psychosocial Survey7

3.711

Personal Social Skills

(1st out of 10)

2.674

Cognitive Skills

(7th out of 10)

3.672

Goal-Setting

(5th out of 10)

3.776

Initiative

(4th out of 10)

3.708

Health

(4th out of 10)

1.636

Negative Experiences

(8th out of 10)

Substance Abuse

Cigarette Use8
11.6%

(7th out of 10)

Binge Drinking9
18.4%

(5th out of 10)

Marijuana Use10
16.7%

(3rd out of 10)

Academic Achievement

Cut Class11
28.2%

(8th out of 10)

A/A- Student12
49.3%

(4th out of 10)

Graduate From College13
72.5%

(7th out of 10)

Psychological health14

4.12

Self-Esteem

(8th out of 10)

2.13

Fatalism

(6th out of 10)

3.86

Self-Efficacy

(T-6th out of 10)

2.81

Loneliness

(9th out of 10)

2.07

Self-Derogation

(9th out of 10)

4.23

Social Support

(T-7th out of 10)

Expert Opinion Rank: 6th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Volleyball rates fourth among the 10 girls sports in the Aspen Institute/University of Texas psychosocial survey, though the gap isn’t far behind No. 1 softball. Social skills are a strength for volleyball. The sport has some of the worst scores for loneliness, self-esteem and self-derogation, according to Women’s Sports Foundation data.

7 Aspen Institute/University of Texas psychosocial benefits survey of high school athletes nationally, 2018. Scoring ranges from 1-4, with 4 being the best except for the Negative Experiences category.

8 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

9 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport binge drinking alcohol in the past two weeks. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

10 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport using marijuana in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

11 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who cut class for a full day in the past month. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

12 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who have an average grade of an A or A-. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

13 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who expect to graduate from a four-year college. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

14 Average scores of high school seniors in the sport in psychological health report card. Data for these six categories came from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters. Scoring ranges from 1-5, with 5 being the best for self-esteem, self-efficacy and social support.

Compare Tool

Select Other Girls Sports to Compare and Scroll Down

Volleyball (Girls)
Basketball (Girls)
Cheerleading (Girls)
Cross Country (Girls)
Lacrosse (Girls)
Soccer (Girls)
Softball (Girls)
Swimming (Girls)
Tennis (Girls)
Track and Field (Girls)

Complementary Sports

Healthy Sport Index recognizes the benefits of youth engaging in more than one sport during the year, through organized or casual play. Some youth also may want or need to find alternate sports, due to interest or roster-size limitations. There are two types of benefits to sport sampling: athletic/skill development in their primary sport, and overall health. First, let’s take a look at sports that can help develop athletic/skill development.

Athletic/Skill Development

For youth whose primary sport is volleyball, USA Volleyball recommends the following complementary sports.

Other Recommended Sports/Activities for Skills

Weightlifting

Rationale: Cross country and track and field are good complementary sports in order to build cardio for volleyball, which requires a great deal of conditioning. Like volleyball, sports such as basketball, cheerleading and lacrosse all involve jumping, agility and hand-eye coordination.

Not chasing an athletic scholarship or elite performance? Let’s now explore complementary sports that are less tailored to develop skills in this particular sport but can help build a well-rounded athlete for life.

 

Overall Health

For youth focused on this sport, the following are activities worth considering to build overall health and fitness. They are recommended by the Healthy Sport Index Advisory Group in consultation with the American College of Sports Medicine. Considerations include whether the primary sport is a team or individual sport, the amount of time the primary sport spends at practice on fitness, and options for sports that carry low-injury risks.

Other Recommended Sports/Activities for Health

Cycling, Field Hockey, Jump Rope, Martial Arts, Pilates, Skiing, Ultimate Frisbee, Yoga

Rationale: Volleyball team is a team sport that would benefit from a companion individual sport. The focus on fitness at practices is low, so running-based sports would be a good complement. Volleyball is a lower-risk sport for injuries compared to other sports.

Best Practices

Tips on how to make volleyball active and safer

  1. Wear knee pads to protect from injury when falling or diving onto the court. Defensive pants, which are padded from the hip to knee, can be worn as protection from floor burns and bruises. Wear lightweight shoes that provide strong ankle and arch support and offer good shock absorption.
  2. It’s especially important for volleyball players to develop lower-body and core strength. Frontline players need the highest vertical jump possible, while defensive specialists must be able to quickly rebound off the floor after a dig. To enhance lower-body strength, use plyometric exercises.
  3. Have an athletic trainer or someone with medical training available at every practice or game. Many state high school associations possess stronger policy requirements for player safety than travel teams.
  4. Don’t play volleyball year-round. Club volleyball and the chase for college scholarships means more opportunities to play all year. But playing year-round risks overuse injuries and burnout.
  5. Eat healthy and get at least eight hours of sleep. Sleep and nutrition fuel energy and productive performances. A simple rule to remember: If any item contains high fructose corn syrup, is high in saturated fats, or has nitrates, don’t drink or eat it.

Learn More About Best Practices
Fundamentals of Coaching Volleyball (National Federation of State High School Associations)

Common Volleyball Injuries (Volleyball.com)

Tips to Prevent Volleyball Injuries (MomsTeam.com)

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)