Volleyball is now the second most popular sport on the planet and is played by an estimated 800 million people worldwide. When shopping online, you will be presented with every type of volleyball system imaginable and there is an overwhelming amount of information to sift through in making your choice. In the end you need to assess your situation and find the volleyball system that is the best fit for you.
If you are a highly competitive or aggressive player, buying a net from the local retail store doesn't make a lot of sense. Neither does spending too little on a volleyball system that has substandard poles made of plastic or thin metal. If you are a "weekend warrior" or recreational player who only sets on the system for the back yard picnic or occasional trip to the beach - which will be the majority of you reading this - it doesn't make sense to spend too much on a system (unless you are that neighbor who just HAS to have the coolest toys on the block).
We get several questions every day from customers trying to decide what system is right for them. I have assembled some of the more common inquiries and pulled together a short list of things you might want to consider before you decide to invest in a net system.
Ask yourself this simple question: What type of volleyball system do I NEED ?
Whether you decide on anin-ground volleyball installation or a portable net system, keep in mind it is an investment, and you don't want to spend too much or too little on a solution. You need the right net for your needs, no more. If you are only going to play a couple of times a year, there is really no need to spend $500 on a set when there are many quality solutions for 1/4 of the price.
Before you even start shopping for a volleyball system, you must decide how you want to install it... or if you want to install it at all. Do you want something you can leave up all summer (or year) long, or are you looking for one you can throw in the trunk of your car and take it with you. Are you a sand player or are you looking for a backyard grass court solution? Do you consider yourself a aggressive, hardcore monster at the net, or are you more of a casual "weekend warrior" type? There is a net system for every skill level and budget, you just have to chose the one that is right for you. Keep in mind, a portable volleyball system is by far the most popular, can go where you go, and can be set up anywhere you might want to play.
We refer to these portable net systems as "recreational volleyball systems". This class of volleyball sets include both portable or permanent volleyball sets that generally would be used on the lawn, backyard or the beach. A portable system is just that....set it up, take it down. Any time, anywhere. Of course semi permanent and permanent installations are available, but are not intended to be removed often.
To install or not to install... that is a question?
An in-ground recreational volleyball system is designed to be a long-lasting addition to your yard, beach or park. These installations can be permanent by cementing posts in place or the volleyball standards can be made removable when used with ground sleeves and/or sockets. Often times additional height settings are available for badminton, beach or grass tennis.
If the ability to move the volleyball system to different places is important, look for a system designed specifically for portability. Just having the ability to take a system down does not make a system portable. Look for a system that folds up (we prefer the telescoping poles), is light weight, durable, and most importantly, a volleyball system that is easily taken down and set-up.
OK...I know HOW I want to use it, now what should I look for?
The quality of the net is is key. You will want a lightweight volleyball net that is easy to transport if you are looking at a portable recreational system. We recommend a high quality nylon net that is UV resistant and "weatherproof". There are different size volleyball nets available, but we recommend you stick with a regulation size net. We would advise against buying a net that is less than 32' X 39". Our favorites nets attach to the standards with "sleeves" (pockets on either end of the net that slide over the poles from top to bottom and secure the net eliminating the need to adjust the net tension individually with ropes, cable or other attachments.
For most portable recreational volleyball systems, we recommend aircraft aluminum telescoping poles of at least 1-3/4" in diameter (like the ones found on the Park& Sun Spectrum 2000 or Park & Sun Spectrum Classic volleyball sets). Ensuring that the system you are considering has sturdy and long lasting standards (poles) on your park or beach volleyball system really makes the all of the difference in the world. Sure, these systems are a little more expensive, but they are built to last several years, and will not need to be replaced due to wear (unlike some of the more "disposable" net systems found at retail stores. We recommend looking for either zinc-plated hardware or aluminum aircraft standards no matter which type of outdoor volleyball set you decide on. It is important to be selective in the materials used in the construction of any outdoor volleyball system. You want a net system that is built to resist the elements and stand up to the rigors of time. Even if you do not intend to leave the system up for extended periods of time, this is an outdoor game... it will be repeatedly exposed to sand, water, and more over the lifetime of the net.
There are a lot of additional bells and whistles to consider when trying to determine the difference between two systems, but most of them come down to personal preference. For example, one volleyball set may have a unique way to adjust the tension of the net. Another might come with poles that allow for height adjustments of the net for different ages or badminton. Another factor that is important to some people (for some reason) is the color of the net. For example, the Park and Sun Spectrum 2000, and the Park and Sun Classic have several colors of net and tape to choose from....even a Pink net.
What else do I need?
Well, I would recommend a ball... the game is not much fun without one of those. Aside from that, consider purchasing a boundary line (either string or webbed) for grass or sand play. If you are going to the beach, we recommend using a sand auger system or sand disc system, as often times the stakes (intended for grass) are not long enough to secure the guy lines in sand.
What is in a name, that which we call a rose...
Does the brand name really make that big of a difference? We could lie to you and say "no," but in reality it really does. If you buy a system at a chain store (I won't name names, but there is one near my house with a big red bullseye on the sign), and spend less than $100, you will probably only own your system for 6 months to a year (with moderate use) before the net sags so bad it resembles a wind sock more than it does a volleyball net. Inexpensive systems at retail chains (often "private labels" or "store brand") are not much (if any) better. The old saying is "you get what you pay for," and that holds true when evaluating volleyball systems. Buy a brand with history, good reviews, and a solid warranty. When considering the price, consider the replacement costs every couple of years for a less expensive system vs. a longer term investment on a quality brand like Park & Sun or First Team.