Volleyball players like me know that those teeny tiny shorts they wear aren’t just a fashion statement – they’re a strategic choice!
While they may look skimpy, volleyball shorts are designed for maximum mobility and comfort. The short length allows players to dive, jump, and stretch without any restrictive fabric becoming a problem. They’re also usually made of lightweight, breathable material that helps keep sweat at bay.
Sure, some people may ogle or make assumptions about the athletes based on their uniforms. In fact, before I began playing volleyball, I also had the same question.
But make no mistake – these athletes are not wearing short shorts for anyone’s viewing pleasure or just because. They’re doing it for performance and practicality. Rest assured that those apparently ridiculous-looking minuscule shorts serve an important purpose! So next time you see a volleyball player’s backside hanging out, know that they’re just dressing for success!
So, if you also want to know more about why people don’t wear traditional shorts instead of tight and small shorts, then step right up as I explain it all.
Evolution of Volleyball Attire: Why Have Volleyball Shorts Became Shorter Over Time?
A Little Background
I don’t know if you know this or not, but spandex was not the traditional attire for volleyball at the beginning. Okay, before I get into it, let’s dial back up a bit to the time volleyball was first invented.
So, volleyball came around the late 1800s. As you know, most outdoor sports at that time were played by men, and so was the case with volleyball. Only after almost 150 years, during the 1950s, the sport was played by women internationally.
About 14 years later, volleyball became an official sport for both men and women in the Summer Olympics. In the 1970s, it gained more popularity, and it was made a varsity-level sport by the NCAA (The National Collegiate Athletic Association) and NAIA (The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics).
How Spandex or Tight Shorts Became the Preferred Uniform for Volleyball
Well, spandex or tight shorts weren’t always the official attire for women’s volleyball. It started with regular-size (not too tight nor too loose) shirts and mid-length shorts. This was the uniform worn by women around the early to mid-1970s.
However, in the late 1970s, spandex gained a lot of popularity in volleyball due to its many advantages. Many teams switched their attire from mid-length shorts to tight spandex as it gave them more flexibility and a full range of motion.
But, the difference between now and then was that the shorts used during that time weren’t as short as they are now. They had a higher cut, and they were also known as bun huggers. Such a uniform came with many problems. It used to ride up and get wedged in very awkward and weird positions.
Basically, what used to happen is— the game started with women covering their rear with high-cut shorts, but as the game progressed, the spandex used to come up, which exposed more of their bottom than it was intended. Plus, it becomes very uncomfortable when you find your shorts wedged up your buttocks.
Bun huggers remained the preferred attire for a very long time. Only around the early 1990s did people or players start to switch back to the traditional shorts. However, bun huggers didn’t go out of the scene completely till the late 1990s.
After having performance issues with traditional shorts, players switched back to spandex shorts. Only this time, they wore shorts with a little more length. I believe most teams during that time wore 4-inch spandex.
However, it didn’t last long as players were having difficulty in managing the extra cloth, and more often than not, it used to creep up into uncomfortable positions. Hence, the era of 2-inch spandex shorts came to the scene.
Fun Fact: In the late 1920s, nudists or naturists took an interest in the sport. Around 1970, almost every naturist club had a volleyball court.
Benefits of Short Volleyball Shorts: How Do They Improve Players’ Performance on The Court?
Now comes the burning question! Why are women’s volleyball shorts so short? Now, many of you, especially the parents, might have the wrong idea that it is to sexualize your daughters or to pique the interest of male spectators, but let me tell you, it’s not.
There are quite a few benefits of short spandex. Let me explain them to you so you can understand why it’s better to wear short spandex instead of traditional shorts.
Flexibility or Full Range of Motion
So, most of you are probably familiar with volleyball and know how the game works. If not, you can always check my blog on volleyball positions and roles.
Anyways, women’s volleyball is slightly different from the men’s. Women rely on agility and flexibility, while men rely on strength and power.
Often, in a game of volleyball, you’ll see that the players are diving to the ground or flying through the air. Such movement is almost impossible without short spandex. Volleyball shorts give you the flexibility required for wide jumps, and they don’t interfere with your full range of motion. It is the ideal attire for the sport for many reasons.
Try doing a few summersaults or lunges in your traditional shorts, and you’ll see how restrictive it feels compared to spandex shorts. You can also use volleyball training equipment and practice with and without spandex shorts. You should feel the difference right there.
What makes spandex shorts an even better choice for volleyball is that it comes with the ability to absorb moisture. If you’ve played volleyball, you should know how tough it gets after a while and how sweaty your thighs become.
Regular shorts might become unbearable to wear in such situations, but not spandex. It is almost as comfortable as your underwear. Some say it’s even more comfy than underwear.
Some schools, colleges, and varsities, for religious and cultural purposes, do not allow players to wear tight shorts for volleyball. However, I’ve heard from my friends and fellow volleyball enthusiasts that most of the girls of such institutions wear spandex underneath their shorts for extra comfort.
Would you believe me if I said spandex shorts are less revealing than midsize or regular shorts? By now, you must think I’ve lost it. Rest assured, I haven’t gone crazy, and it is actually less exposing than regular shorts, only when it comes to volleyball, though.
As you know, tight and short spandex always remain in the same position. You won’t see it riding or creeping upward during the game.
Wear regular shorts and try mimicking the same moves you see in a volleyball game, or better yet, try doing a somersault. Ask someone to observe you and tell them to check just how much of your rear or underwear is being exposed during the stunt.
If you don’t have the time to check it out for yourself, then let me do the honors. It is highly likely you will expose a lot of your rear or underwear while doing somersaults wearing regular shorts. So, tight and short spandex equals less exposure.
Goes with the Style of the Century
While some people find it too revealing, others think of spandex shorts as a fashionable outfit for volleyball. For some reason, it goes perfectly with the game. I’m also in the same boat with this. I think it looks quite stylish, especially due to the new innovations of manufacturers like Nike, etc.
Nonetheless, only wearing spandex won’t make you a better player. Indeed, it will give you the freedom of movement you need to play the game better, but it won’t help you much unless you have a pair of top-tier volleyball shoes.
Once you have the clothes and shoes in your arsenal, it will become much easier to play your best.
What About the Men?
Now, you might wonder why only women wear small and tight spandex, whereas men get to wear regular shorts. There are a couple of reasons behind it. Let me explain them one by one.
How the Game is Played!
As I briefly mentioned before, men and women play volleyball differently. It’s not the rules that change but the technique used for the game.
For instance, men mostly rely on power and strength. You’ll see them smashing rather than tactfully looking for a gap to score a point. On the other hand, women rely a lot on agility and flexibility. Their game is completely different. It is not dominated by power.
Men do not require a full range of motion as much as women. They can be less flexible during the game and still play their best. So, spandex is not a necessity for men.
Difference in Physiology
There is no denying that men and women have different body structures, and it can be noticed the most when you take a look downstairs. Guys and gals pack different equipment at the bottom. Imagine how a guy would look wearing tight spandex shorts, which reveals his no-no part.
Not a sight I want to see!
Women can play while wearing spandex without having to worry about revealing too much of them, while men would be conscious about their dingdong being showcased to the world the entire time.
Additionally, men’s thighs have a different shape, so regular shorts usually don’t creep up like they do when a woman wears them. In a sense, spandex only brings disadvantages to male players.
How Long Should Your Volleyball Short be, and What Size is Perfect for You?
First of all, the requirements differ from region to region and team to team. So, there is no specific size when it comes to volleyball shorts.
With that said, women usually wear high-cut shorts or something that reaches the mid-thigh. The inseams run around from 2-4 inches.
The FIVB, or The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, also allows women to use knee-length pants. It stops at three cm above the knee. They can also wear regular shorts that reside 26 cm above the kneecap.
On the other hand, the FIVB dictates that guys wear shorts that have inseams less than 3.9 inches. As for the length, it should be 10 cm above the knee at least.
However, the standard length for men’s volleyball shorts is above the kneecap, with the inseams being somewhere around five to seven inches.
If you want to figure out the optimal short size for your legs, then you will need to start by measuring your hips and inseams. The large-size spandex short has an inseam of 3.75 inches, the medium with 3, and the short ones have 2 inches. It only applies to women.
The respective US sizes for the large, medium, and small shorts are 12-14, 8-10, and 2-6.
In brief, it’s all about measuring your hips and inseams and buying shorts accordingly. The same goes for the men.
Unveiling the Truth About Volleyball Shorts!
Even after all these years, some female players still feel uncomfortable or shy about wearing spandex shorts as it feels too revealing. However, it’s nothing to frown upon; in fact, it’s pretty common. Anyone would feel conscious wearing a tight brief that exposes their rear in front of hundreds or thousands of people.
My advice would be to muster up the courage and play the sport as it is. There are several attire options available now, and if you don’t feel comfortable wearing a specific set, then try using an alternative.
The point is that the purpose of spandex volleyball shorts is not to objectify women. It actually helps a player to move more freely and flexibly around the court without any discomfort.
If you still feel uneasy about wearing them, try wearing the shorts in practice matches where you will have a few to no spectators. Use them in practice sessions to make yourself more comfortable with the uniform.
Now that you know why are volleyball shorts so short, I would love to hear your opinion about the matter. Cheers!