Many people question whether they are too short to play volleyball, and it is a real tragedy that they do so because it means they never become involved in this wonderful team sport that has so much to offer.
Before we specifically get into volleyball, however, it’s a good idea to name a couple of players from different sports, not just volleyball, who managed to forge a very successful career even though one look at them and you would’ve thought that they would never have played the sport to any degree of success.
In basketball there was Muggsy Bogues who stood at just 5’ 3” in in a sport that has far too many over 7” players to mention. He managed to play at the highest level in the sport for 14 years, was part of the Gold winning team in the 1986 FIBA World Championship, and even managed to block 39 shots in his career!
In football there’s Wes Welker who is 5’ 8”. This may not sound too short, but in a sport and especially in the position he played that is dominated by taller players, Wes managed to feature in the Pro Bowl 5 times and is the all-time career leader in receptions for the New England Patriots.
Most importantly, in volleyball there are several players who you would think would be too short to play successfully, including some of the best payers to have ever graced the game – and this isn’t necessarily for those positions that usually have shorter players
Debbie Green, for example, stood at just 5’4”and it would be hard to find anyone who would disagree with the statement that she was “one of the finest setters the game has ever seen.” She received the USVBA “All-Time Great Player” Award in 1986 and helped her team win the silver medal in the 1984 Olympics – the best finish in U.S. women’s volleyball history at the time, and one that really put volleyball on the map in the USA.
If Debbie Green’s success hasn’t managed to persuade you that height in volleyball isn’t as important as you may think, perhaps Marv Dunphy will.
Marv, who is a legendary coach and led the US to Gold in the 1988 Olympics says:
“It is not how tall you are, it is how GOOD you are.”
Even in beach volleyball, where there is only one other teammate to depend on, making you think that height would be even more of an important factor, had Eileen Clancy. She was just 5”1’ yet was considered to be one of the very best beach players in the world for over a decade.
Being one of the shorter players on the team also has its advantages. Shorter players typically have faster reaction times, are more agile, can get to the ground and thus the ball more easily than their taller teammates, and also have excellent ball-handling skills, which adds a whole new dynamic to the team and one that any coach would be lucky to have.
I believe that when posed with the question of “Am I too short to play volleyball,” by a parent or a player, the Marv Dunphy quote should be repeated. After all, if such a legendary coach as Marv believes that one’s height isn’t a hindrance in becoming a successful volleyball player, then we don’t think that any coach, parent or player should believe it to be a hindrance either.