The best volleyball
Volleyball is among the simplest sports to grasp because it essentially boils down to “keep the ball in the air.” Because it’s all about the ball, it’s imperative that you have the right ball for your situation. Some are meant for indoor use, others outdoor. Some are large and hard, while others are small and soft.
The best volleyball is the Tachikara Sensi-Tec Composite Volleyball. It’s meant for indoor use but can be safely used outdoors in good weather. It’s also made of composite leather for durability without being too hard.
What to know before you buy a volleyball
Indoor vs. beach volleyball
Indoor and beach volleyballs have different design aspects that set them up for success in their intended environments and make them poor choices for use in the opposite one.
- Indoor volleyballs are smaller and more pressurized. They’re also heavier and tend to be made of leather, whether real or synthetic. The cover is usually molded over the air bladder, but some stitching may also be used.
- Outdoor volleyballs are lighter but larger to counteract wind. They use 18 panels of composite materials stitched together to increase their resistance to sand, water and other outdoor hazards.
Size and softness
A volleyball’s size and softness determine who is meant to use it and how it’s meant to be used. Smaller and softer balls are better for younger players and for adults wanting to play a more casual game. Larger and harder balls are meant for serious competitions.
Most volleyballs are sold individually or in packs of two, but you can still find larger bulk packages if you need to stock up. Most bulk packages come with six or 12 balls.
The color of a volleyball has both surface level and competitive considerations.
- On the surface, volleyball colors are fun ways to spice things up. Try matching it to your team’s or school’s colors or just pick one that’s your favorite or looks cute.
- For competitive play, colors have a surprisingly deep effect. By using multiple colors, an advanced player can read the spin of the ball as it flies. This tells them how they need to approach an oncoming ball and helps them improve their performance by seeing in real time how the way they play moves the ball.
All outdoor volleyballs have some water resistance, but that doesn’t mean they can be used safely in a pool or other body of water. If you plan on doing so, triple-check that your prospective ball explicitly states it’s waterproof and safe for use in water. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a waterlogged ball.
Most volleyballs ship deflated, so you need to have your own pump. As such, some volleyballs come with a small hand pump that can be used on most inflatable balls. Other balls, especially bulk volleyballs, include a mesh bag for storage.
They can cost as little as $10 or as much as $50-plus. Serviceable balls typically cost $15 or less while the average ball costs roughly $20-$40. The best balls typically start around $40 and can cost more than $100.
How much should a volleyball be inflated?
A. That depends on the type of ball as well as your ball preferences. Indoor balls require more air and outdoor balls require less, though you don’t need a pressure gauge to know when you have enough. Just inflate your ball until it’s taut but has a touch of give when squeezed. If you want a softer ball, you can let a dash of extra air out; just make sure it still holds its shape.
If you do have a pressure gauge and you want to be exact, the proper pounds per square inch of pressure you need for each ball type are: 4.3-4.6 psi for indoor balls and 2.3-3.2 psi for outdoor balls.
Can I repair a leaking volleyball?
A. That depends on the ball and the cause of the leak. Most volleyballs can have minor leaks repaired with a volleyball-specific patch, some rubber cement or a mix of the two. If the ball refuses to inflate or won’t hold air long enough to play a few sets then it’s likely to be too severe of an issue to fix.
Which volleyball should I get?
Best of the best volleyball
Tachikara Sensi-Tec Composite Volleyball: available at Amazon
Our take: It’s hard to beat this indoor ball from one of the best brands in the sport.
What we like: Its size, weight and hardness are balanced to be useable by all ages without detracting from performance. The composite leather shell is competition grade and can be used outside in good weather. It uses Tachikara’s patented loose bladder for superior precision. It comes in 39 colors.
What we dislike: While it can be used outside, it shouldn't be gotten wet or allowed near sand. Some consumers received bladders that couldn’t hold air.
Best bang for your buck volleyball
Wilson AVP II Replica Beach Volleyball: available at Amazon
Our take: This is designed to the same specifications as official competition beach volleyballs.
What we like: The bladder is made of butyl rubber for extra durability and air retention. The cover is made of 18 panels of machine-sewn synthetic leather to hold its shape and resist sand. It matches the requirements of the Association of Volleyball Professionals.
What we dislike: It only comes in one color. Some purchasers reported needing to inflate it before each use. Others had issues with the stitching failing.
Honorable mention volleyball
Tachikara Volley-Lite Indoor Volleyball: available at Amazon
Our take: This is built for children ages 12 and under.
What we like: It’s smaller, lighter and softer than most volleyballs so children can learn and play the game without worrying about hurting their hands. However, it isn’t small enough not to be regulation so adults can practice with it. It comes in eight colors.
What we dislike: It should not be used outside or allowed to get wet. A few purchasers had issues with it not holding air.
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Jordan C. Woika is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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