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Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Volleyballs

29th Jul 2014

If you have ever seen indoor or beach volleyball being played, you are probably aware of the major differences between the sports. For example, one is played on the beach, while the other takes place in a gymnasium. In addition, indoor volleyball has a larger court with six players per side, while beach volleyball (at least the organized professional version) is played with only two players on each team. Less experienced players might not know, however, that the scoring is different in each sport, as indoor volleyball consists of five sets, while outdoor volleyball is only played to three sets. Finally, the actually volleyballs used in the two games have some differences as explained below.

Molded Indoor Balls

One of the main differences between the two types of balls is that outdoor balls are stitched and indoor balls are molded. This makes the volleyballs look different from one another. On an indoor volleyball, you can see that panels are glued to an inner lining. This gives the seams a smooth appearance. The smooth features makes the ball more consistent, which influences how the game as a whole is played. Indoor balls do not have to contend with the wind and other elements, so this method of production works well for them and does not lead to any major problems while on the court.

Stitched Outdoor Balls

Outdoor volleyballs, on the other hand, are sewn together. You can see the threads on the balls, which are there to hold the panels in place and give the ball its look. This stitching makes these balls more durable, which is necessary because they are exposed to the elements regularly. These balls are a little heavier than indoor balls as well, as this prevents them from blowing in the wind as much. A lighter ball would blow in the wind heavily, which could have a major influence on the outcome of a match.


Most indoor balls are made of leather, as this material stands up against the intense striking that the balls endure every time they are used on the court. Beach volleyballs, however, are usually made from a composite material which keeps them water resistant. It is possible to find leather balls that have been created to the outdoor standards, but you should always keep them away from the water if you go with one of these models.