Clothing You Typically Wear for Playing Volleyball

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As you are getting ready to go play volleyball with your friends or if you are joining a team for the first time, you may be wondering what clothing is typically worn for playing volleyball.

When it comes to playing volleyball, there isn’t a set dress code, unless you are on a school or professional team. However, there are a few different types of clothes you should aim to wear in order to help boost your performance on the court.

Volleyball Clothing Tops

If you are not tethered to wearing a specific uniform, there are a few different types of shirts you can wear.


A standard t-shirt is fine for playing volleyball. If you are on a highshool or middle school team, this is a good option for volleyball practice or a scrimmage game. Just make sure any standard t-shirts are comfortable, loose fitting, and not too tight.

If you are wearing a shirt that is too tight, it can restrict your ability to move or fully extend your arms to the ball. You can also risk tearing or ripping your shirt while you are trying to play.

On the other side of the spectrum, you don’t want to wear a shirt that is two to three sizes too large on you. A shirt that is too big can get in the way of the ball. Your ability to move will be hampered by wearing a blanket-size shirt.

T-shirts, tank tops, dry-fit shirts, and sports bras are the different types of shirts that you can wear in volleyball

The best overall fit for a shirt is for it to be form fitting. You also want it a little lose to allow you to move freely without feeling the fabric of the shirt holding you back. If you are unsure about a shirt when you try it on, take a moment to move your arms into the bump, set, and spike positions.

Wave your arms up and down, even fit in a few windmill like swings to make sure that the cap sleeves allow your arm the full range of motion. Whatever shirt you wear must be able to support your speed and agility in the game, and this will be every important when you step out onto the court.

Tank Top

Depending on where you play volleyball, a tank top can be a great choice. It may not be allowed at more conservative schools and circles.

A tank top with good support is a good choice since it will not hinder any arm movements with an awkward or too tight cap sleeve. The open arm form allows your arm to experience it’s full range of motion and rotation. You will be able to play without feeling held back in any way.

If you play more outdoor volleyball, a tank top is also great choice to help you work on your tan. Just make sure you are wearing plenty of sunscreen while you are on the outdoor court. An arm sleeve can be a great accessory, as well as a protection for your body.

Dry-Fit Shirt

One of the best options you can choose for playing volleyball indoor or outdoor is a dry fit shirt. These types of tops are created with a high performance blend of polyester and microfiber fabric. It works to wick away sweat and moisture from your skin.

With this type of shirt, you will not feel weighed down by a sweat soaked t-shirt. You will also not be covered in sweat halfway through the game or practice thanks to the sweat wicking technology in these tops.

Dry fit shirts like the Nike Women’s Long Sleeve Legend Shirt are also a lightweight shirt in comparison to standard t-shirts. This lighter feeling will aid in your overall range of motion and won’t irritate your skin due to the softness of the fabric.

Just as you want to wear a loose fitting t-shirt, you will also want to aim for a comfortable fitting dry fit shirt. It should fit your body without being skin tight or restricting your arm movements in the shoulder section, helping you move better and score better.

Sports Bra

For ladies, a sports bra is a must have to give you ample support and control on the court. When you are searching for a good fitting sports bra, it is important to know your true size to help you find the best fit.

Look for a sports bra that has been created with a breathable fabric. You also want one that offers support for you while you are on the court.

Volleyball Outfit Bottoms

When it comes to what to wear on the bottom, there are a few different choices. You can mix and match these, depending on the season and temperature where you are playing.


Most players will opt for a pair of shorts. The length depends on your own personal preference and the dress code where you are playing.

For women, most opt for form fitting spandex shorts that hug your legs and butt. The best shorts for volleyball allow for freedom of movement along with the benefit of moisture wicking technology.

Women’s volleyball shorts come in a variety of thicknesses, so pay attention to what is best. Some spandex rides up easily, making it annoying while you’re playing.

If the spandex material is a little too short or tight, you can always wear a pair of longer spandex shorts like the Mizuno Vortex Volleyball Short underneath them.

This is a popular combination due to spandex being a very form fitting item of clothing. Wearing a pair of looser fitting shorts over them gives the tight fitting spandex a more modest cover up.

Shorts, Capri shorts, and pants are the different types of bottoms that you can wear in volleyball.

For guys, aim for a pair of athletic gym shorts instead of cargo pants. Cargo pants don’t give or stretch much as you are playing.

While some gym shorts may offer the convenience of pockets, it is best to keep them empty when you are playing. That way you are not weighed down by the heavy objects in your pockets. You won’t have to worry about the risk of having these items fall out and break on the court or worse trip someone.

Sport Capri

If it is a little too cold for shorts, girls may be looking for a little more coverage for bottoms. If you don’t want long pants, you can opt for a pair of jogging or sport capris. While these pants are more geared towards runners, they are just as effective for volleyball players who want a little more coverage on their legs.

Capris and shorter leggings like the NIKE Women’s Essential Dri-FIT Tights are made from similar dri fit technology blends. They wick away sweat from the body while you are playing. The sport capris are also made with a stretchy fabric that allows them to fit you well, while stretching to match your movements.

This tight fit makes it possible for you to wear your knee pads over the capri pants. You can still dive for the ball when necessary.


Opting to wear long pants is another choice for you. However, unless you cannot warm yourself up on the court while playing, these aren’t the best overall thing to wear.

This is because most athletic pants tend to be baggy and are not the best option for playing more competitive volleyball. At competitive levels you are expected to wear and use knee pads. This is because you need to dive and dig up hard spikes.

Wearing long pants makes it difficult to fit knee pads over them. Wearing them underneath puts your pants at risk for rips and tears if you slide across the floor.

Longer pants are more acceptable if you are playing in a recreational league. This would be one that doesn’t require you to dive across the floor for a ball.

Just make sure the pants you choose are able to stretch in the midsection as well as around your thighs, such as athletic leggings. This way you are able to bend to get low and move freely around the court without restriction in your legs.

Volleyball Knee Pads 

Knee pads protect the knees, your patella, and the surrounding ligaments and muscles. Without them, you increase the chance of overextending the knees or having the knees collapse during a game. Ensuring that you have a quality pair of knee pads gives you the confidence to play at full capacity without worrying about knee damage. 

The impact of moving at full speed and kneeling on the hard floor can damage the knees. Just like how you would tape your fingers for protection, your knees will need protective garments when you dive to hit a low ball. Once you injure your knees, you need to stop playing for a while to recover and undergo therapy. 

Hence, knee pads not only save your knees from experiencing discomfort, but they also make sure that you can sustain high-performance playing levels, enabling your volleyball career to last a long time. 

Volleyball Shoes

How Your Shoes Should FeelHow Your Shoes Shouldn’t Feel
They are not too tight, and not too looseThey are so tight you can’t wiggle your toes inside
They are comfortable when you walk and run with themYou feel a slight discomfort while running
They have enough space for your toesThey feel too hot inside

When it comes to footwear, you may think that any old pair of shoes will do, but for volleyball there are actually specialized shoes on the market.

If you are playing for an advanced team such as a professional or college team, you will most likely be given or have a chance to purchase a certain shoe. Usually, the entire team will wear the same shoes. If you’re still in highschool, you might have to wait a couple more years.

Sneakers vs Volleyball Shoes

When it comes to finding a good pair of shoes for volleyball, you should take the time to learn more about standard volleyball shoes. These are available from a few different brands.

These shoes, unlike everyday sneakers, have been created with volleyball enhancing features. This allows you to move laterally better without losing your balance. They also have special gum rubber soles that allow these shoes to really grip the floor better than sneakers.

The better grip is a must have for more competitive volleyball players. This is due to the amount of quick sprints and amount of air time they accumulate while attacking or blocking the ball.

Woman preparing to hit the ball

If you are simply playing in a recreational league or at a more relaxed setting, standard lace up sneakers are fine to use.

Just make sure that you are not playing in flip flops, open toes shoes or ballet flats. These shoes are not safe for you on a volleyball court, nor others when you trip or fall.

Beach Volleyball Clothing Attire

If you are playing in a beach volleyball league or just attending a pick up game, you may find yourself in non traditional volleyball clothing.

For the most part, beach volleyball is played in your swimwear. While this can be much more freeing for movement while you are playing, it does offer a little bit of a drawback. Even light recreational beach volleyball tends to lean more into an active jumping and diving sort of play.

Since you are on a softer plateau such as sand, it is easier to lose your footing and fall if you are not used to it. Also, players are more encouraged to really jump and dive into the sand for the ball. For this reason, you will want to make sure the swimsuit you wear is well fitted and can hold up to a little rough playing.

  • For men, almost any beach short will do. Just make sure that they fit securely enough to stay up while you are diving on the sand.
  • For women, you may want to choose a more stable swimwear option instead of the tiny drawstring bikini. This will ensure that you are not embarrassed if you start to play competitively on the court.

Naturally a one piece or a more sports bra oriented top is a better choice. This gives you support, and also gives you the comfort and security of knowing that your swimsuit will not move or slide while you are playing.

One last thing – typically beach volleyball is played in bright sunlight. You can’t just wear your stylish Ray-ban’s- make sure you grab a pair of specialized athletic beach volleyball sunglasses.

What Not to Wear for Volleyball

Before you step out onto the volleyball court, check your hair and your jewelry. It doesn’t matter if it is for simple practice or for playing a game, there are a few things you should leave in your bag or at home.


Any rings, necklaces, or even earrings can become a potential and painful hazard on the court. You don’t want anything the ball can hit and smash against. Nor, do you want anything that can snag when you have a collision with someone else.

Man holding volleyball in between his hand and his hip


It is also a good idea to firmly secure back any hair that is long or gets in your eyes. Long hair that is left down can be a sight hazard as you are moving fast on the court. You also run the risk of your hair getting pulled or entangled with someone else if you come into hard contact.

While the two different teams play on opposite sides of the court, volleyball can be and is a high contact sport. This is mainly due to the fact that players are looking up in the air at the ball and moving to it. Many times players don’t have time to look side to side to see where other players are.

It is normal for collisions to occur. This happens especially when teammates lack communication or don’t call the ball to signal where they are on the court — effective drills on teamwork and gameplay is the solution to these problems.

A simple ponytail is a good way to keep your hair out of your eyes and out of the way. Steer clear of wearing any barretts or pins on your hair. These can pose a risk of injury if the ball hits them or another player does.

If your hair needs to be kept back but it too short to be in a ponytail, you can wear a large fabric headband. These bands, whether skinny or wide can keep short hair out of your face, and also work to wick away any excess sweat. Just make sure that they do not have any metal bindings in them.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about volleyball clothes.

Why Do Liberos Wear Different Jerseys?

Liberos wear jerseys with a different color for the referees to be able to differentiate them. Since Liberos are the only players able to be substituted an unlimited amount of times, referees need to distinguish them in order to avoid mistakes.

What Do You Wear for Sand Volleyball?

Since sand volleyball tends to be played under the sun, players often choose short and breathable clothes. For instance, most elite female players wear bikinis, while elite male players only wear a pair of medium-cut shorts.

Can Volleyball Players Wear Leggings?

Yes, volleyball players can choose to wear leggings. However, a few years ago this wasn’t possible due to the dress code rules for volleyball. These were recently changed to allow players to wear what makes them more comfortable.


Now that you know more about what clothing is typically worn for playing volleyball you can get dressed with less worry. This allows you to spend more time enjoying yourself out on the volleyball court.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.