9 February 1895, first Volleyball game
On February 9, 1895, in Massachusetts (USA), William G. Morgan (in the top left circle), a YMCA physical education director, created a new game called Mintonette as a pastime to be played indoors and by any number of players. The captain of one team was J.J. Curran and the other John Lynch who were, respectively, Mayor and Chief of the Fire Department of Holyoke.
The game took some of its characteristics from tennis and handball. Mintonette was designed to be an indoor sport, less rough than basketball (born 4 years earlier), for older members of the YMCA, while still requiring a bit of athletic effort. After seeing the demonstration and hearing the explanation, Professor Alfred T. Halstead suggested the name be changed to “Volley Ball” since the object of the game was to “Volley” the ball.
The first rules, written down by William G Morgan, called for a net 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) high, a 25 ft × 50 ft (7.6 m × 15.2 m) court, and any number of players. A match was composed of nine innings with three serves for each team in each inning, and no limit to the number of ball contacts for each team before sending the ball to the opponents’ court. In case of a serving error, a second try was allowed. Hitting the ball into the net was considered a foul (with loss of the point or a side-out)—except in the case of the first-try serve.
The rules evolved over time: in the Philippines by 1916, the skill and power of the set and spike had been introduced, and four years later a “three hits” rule and a rule against hitting from the back row were established. In 1917, the game was changed from 21 to 15 points. In 1919, about 16,000 volleyballs were distributed by the American Expeditionary Forces to their troops and allies, which sparked the growth of volleyball in new countries.
Nudists were early adopters of the game with regular organized play in clubs as early as the late 1920s. By the 1960s, a volleyball court had become standard in almost all nudist/naturist clubs.
Photo: Courtesy of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Archive.