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The Lo-Down: The Evolution of Volleyball Uniforms
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

The Lo-Down: The Evolution of Volleyball Uniforms

November 13, 2018

“If you look good, you’ll play good.” I don’t know where that quote came from or who said it, but I believe there is some truth to that statement. Over the years, we have witnessed how the volleyball uniform has progressed. From shoes to kneepads to jerseys, almost every aspect of volleyball uniforms has been tweaked. Each year there seems to be a new trend or a new attractive look that every volleyball player latches onto. Sometimes it is to benefit the athlete, other times it is for the sole purpose of looking good. Either way, we see these changes happening in high school volleyball, all the way to professional volleyball. 


Kneepads used to be much bulkier than they are today. They were almost identical to a turtle’s shell. However, the sleeker design that we see today is much flatter and a little more flexible. To go along with the design, is the way players have transformed wearing them. Kneepads used to go over your knee and their purpose was to protect your knees when you dive to the floor. These days though, knee pads are usually worn below the knees and the purpose of that is solely for looks. 


From sleeveless, to short sleeves, to now long sleeves, the jerseys have definitely made the biggest advancements. The jersey transformation has happened because of two factors. The first being looks and the second being performance. 

Overall, long sleeve jerseys appear sharp compared to short sleeve jerseys. They also are usually more comfortable to wear. In regard to performance, I believe when you are wearing long sleeves, the way the ball reacts when coming off of your arms for a dig or a pass is very different (in a positive way) than when coming off short sleeves. You will see most players in short sleeve uniforms (mainly libero’s or back row specialists) wearing sleeves or some type of arm pads for this very reason. It’s also nice to have long sleeves if a gym is on the chillier side (which most are). They can also help absorb some of the sweat on players arms if you get too hot, which then helps setters because the ball won’t be as slick.

MORE: The Lo-Down Archives

The evolution of the volleyball uniform has progressed over the years to not only make players look better, but to help with performance aspects as well. It will be interesting to see what volleyball uniforms (from head to toe) look like in 10 or even 20 years from now. 

We saw a glimpse of where Nebraska volleyball may be going in the future. Just last weekend, the Huskers debuted a multi colored jersey that turned some heads. They grew on me as the match went on and I think we may have witnessed a trend that might start making more appearances.

One thing that won’t likely change, however, is what’s on the front of the jerseys. The Huskers’ script-Nebraska has become an iconic part of the volleyball program.

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