You may be used to the Mikasa float serves dancing around or Molten jump serves being bombed by all, but rarely does everyone have practice with both. This will serve as a guide to getting to know the many different balls used in volleyball, which are the best volleyballs for beginners, and we've also added in some information to those of you who are transitioning to a new volleyball.
Whether you are just getting started, playing in a different league or even a different country, just remember: they’re all volleyballs.
Indoor Volleyball Ball (History)
MVA200 was first used in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and has been used by FIVB and other international competitions since. The V200W (below) made its debut in the 2019 World Cup and is the new indoor ball of choice for the FIVB and upcoming Olympics.
As an American player going abroad or anyone playing youth through professional outside of the US, we highly recommend getting used to the tendencies of the Mikasa ball.
Alternatively, the Molten V5M5000-3N Flistatec (for men) and Molten IV58L Super Touch (for women) has been the official ball of NCAA competition since 2016, used in league play and championships alike.
Molten has been a leading brand of volleyball around the globe for some time, but recently you have been more likely to find them in the US, as opposed to the adoption of Mikasa volleyballs throughout Europe and Asia.
What will the next phase in volleyball history look like in decades to come? We don't know, but for now let's read some live Player Reviews for the best volleyballs for beginners already out there!
Player Review: Mikasa and Molten Volleyball Differences
As a player who didn’t grow up with the Mikasa, the first thing I noticed with it is the design and how sleek it feels. Can get a bit slippery when sweat is involved, making it a setter’s nightmare. Chances are if you’ve played with this ball and never noticed that sensation, you’re the sweaty one (I learned this the hard way).
The Mikasa volleyball is soft on the platform and feels great when hand setting. Needs more push when passing where the Molten almost needs you to pull away to control the ball. The Mikasa can feel heavy to contact when swinging or serving, makes it a bit more difficult to create topspin but just takes practice. Floats on the other hand are quite natural to the Mikasa, all float servers will feel right at home.
The Molten has a clear grip to it and feels almost ‘springier’ than most volleyballs. It comes fast and requires cushioning on the platform, otherwise passes over the net or into the ceiling will be all too common. Setter’s will welcome the grip but won’t find the release as smooth as with the Mikasa. Whether due to the bounce of the ball or the grip, it feels more natural to hit and create topspin with the Molten, which makes it a friendlier volleyball for beginners. Floats still work well with the Molten but require more practice to find that ball movement.
Best Beach Volleyball Balls
Wilson has provided the official AVP ball since 1996 and become quite known throughout the states. The Cast Away Wilson ball being famous in its own right.
Mikasa, while not being found on US beaches or competitions, has renewed its contract with FIVB through 2024. Mikasa Beach Champ has been and will continue to be seen in all FIVB and Olympic competitions.
Spalding King of the Beach is sort of an honorable mention here in that it isn’t represented in any major leagues at the moment. It can be found in the US and contests the Wilson AVP ball, areas or communities tend to use one or the other exclusively. Also worth mentioning, grass volleyball tends to be played with the Spalding KOB.
Player Review: Beach Volleyball Differences
The Mikasa Beach Champ has many similarities to that of its indoor counterpart. Has a bit more give when contacting it but otherwise has the same tendencies. Floats a lot on the serve and feels smooth when setting. Doesn’t handle all that easily when wet or sweaty, none of the three outdoor balls mentioned do, might recommend some bump setting practice.
The Wilson is often called a balloon. Maybe it’s said as a negative, although I tend to agree but for all positive reasons. It feels larger or blown up, but this seems to contribute to the ease of passing it--making it an excellent volleyball for beginners to the beach scene. Just as when you are trying to keep the balloon from hitting the ground, the Wilson feels easier to control than other balls. Getting solid contact with attacking and serving has always felt simple, helping improve control.
Spalding’s King of the Beach feels nothing like the other two in this category. Has rigid seems and is made of sturdy leather. The only ball on this list to actually improve with time and use, tends to smooth out its ridges. Because of its somewhat stiff feel to it, attacking and serving contact is also solid with the KOB. The ridges can also help create dramatic spins and curves when contacted just right.
Best Volleyball Balls for Beginners 2020
For those just starting, or looking to play around with family and friends casually, it may not make much sense to invest in an official league ball just yet. We’ve added two more that are a bit cheaper in price and can still fit any volleyball cravings you’ll undoubtedly have.
Both made by Wilson, the Soft Play and Cast Away. Both are a bit firm, with smooth exteriors, and not extremely bouncy. Safe for indoor and outdoor play, even safe to use in the pool, provided you give them a chance to dry after. They are unlikely to last as long as the official balls but can definitely feel safer using them in all situations. The Soft Play comes in several color options and the Cast Away fit especially well for us all in isolation right now. Volleyball will always be our friend in times of need.
Best Volleyballs for Home Practice
We know it can be difficult to get extra practice in by yourself in this sport. Whether you're in off-season or stuck inside without a team to train with, we'd recommend you start with some of the friendlier volleyballs for outdoor and home use. While it may be worthwhile to get an official Molten or Mikasa just to practice setting and bumping to yourself, as soon as you take those beauties outside it will be difficult to keep them clean and in top shape.
Fortunately, there are plenty of available options for those looking to get a volleyball that can handle a beating outdoors.
Our number one choice for this category goes to Molten, for their outdoor recreational ball. This is designed for outdoor use, and has a nice soft feel to it (without the weight of the Molten indoor ball above). For beginners or those just looking to get some solo outdoor reps, this is a great affordable option (so you can even line yourself up with 3 or 4 so you don't need to go chasing them!)
Regardless of skill level, location, number of people and especially ball, volleyball is something everyone can enjoy. We just want to help you find the right tool to get the most out of it. Please let us know if you have a favorite ball, one you want to try or a question you’d like answered!