Volleyball Spandex: It’s A Matter of Comfort Not Fashion


Photo Credit/Pixabay

We’ve all seen a volleyball game and I’m sure most of us, if not all, did not fail to notice that the uniform consists of very tight, very short, spandex shorts. Contrary to popular belief, these shorts were not chosen for any reason but for the comfort and convenience of the player.

Dating back to the beginning of volleyball, women did wear longer shorts. Over the years, the shorts  got shorter and shorter, and tighter and tighter, as volleyball has became more popular and more competitive. Women’s volleyball demands jumping, running, shuffling, rolling, diving, and almost any other movement you could name. Overall, it’s a very physically demanding sport. Tight fitting spandex allows a player to move freely without worrying about their shorts falling off, catching on the net, or exposing anything. Longer, baggier shorts get in the way of movement and require more adjustment than is convenient although it is true that other sports do in fact require just as much movement.

Kate Dejong of the USA Women’s National Volleyball team explained, “It’s different for soccer and basketball, we’re required to sprawl on the floor, and we don’t want the shorts to come off.”

Kelly French ’18, Regina varsity volleyball player  said, “I feel like wearing anything but spandex would be restraining and there would be way too much going on.”

Women choose to wear spandex while playing volleyball because that is what they are most comfortable in. Although I cannot speak for all, most women do not choose  spandex as a fashion statement or to show off any of their assets. Accordingly, spandex has become a well known symbol for volleyball, but not for the reasons I just mentioned. Spandex is also popular because of its tight, revealing fit, which unfortunately tends to turn the attention away from the talent and onto the players as sex objects with the spandex as the way to flaunt their figures.

During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Women’s beach volleyball players decided to cover up due to the chilly weather. The response this decision received from fans was a little unnerving.

One man tweeted “What’s this women’s beach volleyball all covered up nonsense.”

It is not the sport or it’s players who have created this stigma, but fans and outsiders of the sport. Simply, the women playing volleyball just wanted to be comfortable. Just as they like to be comfortable in their spandex when they are playing in suitable weather. People like this who have turned women players in spandex into  sex objects or the stigma that spandex are worn as a fashion statement or to show off often leads many people to have issues with women wearing spandex simply to play volleyball.

Those who find a problem with spandex due to this negative connotation also argue that if women wear spandex, why don’t men? There are many reasons why men do not wear tight, short spandex. First of all, the reasons women wear spandex do not pertain to men. Seeing as men are built differently, they would not be comfortable in spandex. And frankly, most men would not want to wear spandex.

Technically speaking, in most cases, women are not required to wear spandex. For many years spandex were a requirement, but as of 2012 women no longer have to wear spandex in order to play. However, even with the rule change, the majority of women still continue to wear spandex because that is what they are comfortable in.

While I think it is very important that women wear what they are comfortable in and that they should never be required to wear something they do not feel comfortable in, the spandex argument comes down to this: Spandex is their first choice for most volleyball players because it gives them free range of movement without fear of exposing anything when moving around the court, not because they are revealing. Women feel comfortable in them. Women want to wear spandex.