Netball and volleyball both use specialized balls for overhead passing and shooting into nets. But how exactly do netball and volleyball balls differ? Here are 11 ways they compare and contrast:
- Weight – Netball balls weigh just 10-11 ounces versus 8-9 ounces for volleyballs.
- Size – Netball balls have a smaller 20-21cm circumference versus 24-26cm volleyballs.
- Bounce – Netball balls bounce lower given the smaller size and solid rubber.
- Materials – Netball uses solid rubber while volleyballs have synthetic leather over a bladder.
- History – Netball balls evolved from basketballs while volleyballs came from tennis balls.
- Speed – Netball passes reach around 50 mph versus volleyball spikes over 70 mph.
- Serve Speed – Underhand netball serves average 30-40 mph versus overhand volleyball serves to 60 mph.
- Records – No speed records exist for netball versus 69 mph spike record for volleyball.
- Storage – Both store best at stable room temperature when not in play.
- Brands – Gilbert and Molten dominate netball while Mikasa, Wilson, and Molten lead volleyballs.
- Aging – With use, both lose their bounce and durability over time.
In this article, we’ll explore how netball and volleyball balls differ in their design and performance. Let’s compare and contrast!
Difference in Weight
The first major difference is netball balls have heavier weight at 10-11 ounces typically. This heft gives stability in the hands for shooting.
Volleyballs are lighter at just 8-9 ounces on average. The minimized weight allows players to finesse the ball on bumps and volleys.
So netball balls have about 20% more heft for power, while volleyballs optimize lightness.
Difference in Size
Netball balls also have a smaller circumference than volleyballs.
Regulation netball sizes range from 20-21cm around. This compact size suits the indoor court and shorter distances.
Volleyballs measure 24-26cm normally. The larger scale is easier to pass and serve over longer distances outdoors.
Difference in Bounce
The varied sizes and materials give netball and volleyballs different bounce actions.
Netball balls bounce lower off the hard indoor court. The dense rubber absorbs energy on impact.
Volleyballs compress and rebound faster off hands thanks to the softer synthetic leather material and bladder inside.
So for livelier bounce, volleyballs are the choice over the more muted netball reaction.
The bounce differences relate directly to the different construction:
Netball balls are solid heavy rubber all the way through. This makes them rigid and stable in flight.
Volleyballs have a textured synthetic leather covering that encases an internal rubber bladder. This allows better compressibility.
History of Both Balls
Netball and volleyball balls also took different paths historically:
Netball grew out of early basketballs which had similar solid rubber designs around the late 1800s.
Volleyballs evolved from tennis balls which were lighter and had canvas exteriors by the 1900s.
So the sporting origins directly shaped the weight and materials for each ball variety.
Speed They Travel
During competitive play, volleyball balls reach higher velocities thanks to their flight-enhancing design.
Volleyball spikes can exceed 70 mph at the elite levels. Serves frequently reach over 60 miles per hour.
Netball shots and passes top out around 50 mph typically. The heavier rubber ball slows the pace.
So volleyball outpaces netball for high-octane speed and power.
How Fast is a Serve?
Serving speed again goes to volleyball with its optimized materials and allowed overhand throwing motion.
Volleyball players can whip overhand serves up to 60+ mph with a running start. This allows aiming for the far court.
Netball mandates slower underhand serving below head height, averaging just 30-40 mph pace. The court is much smaller.
For serve velocity from the baseline, volleyball balls are engineered better for speed.
What is the World Record Speed of Both?
Related, volleyball balls hold the clear record:
Men’s volleyball star Facundo Conte spiked a ball 69 mph in competition. That’s considered close to the maximum reach for a top player.
Netball lacks any speed records, as the ball limits velocities during indoor play to 50 mph range.
How Both Compare to Balls from Other Sports
Netball and volleyball balls also differ distinctly from other ball sports:
- Basketball – Much bouncier and grippier than the rubber and leather balls.
- Soccer – Larger and heavier soccer balls behave totally differently.
- Baseball – Compact lightweight baseballs take much faster speeds.
The two balls are engineered specifically for their distinct sport purposes.
The Best Brands of Balls
Gilbert and Molten lead for netball balls. Volleyball’s top brands include Mikasa, Wilson, Molten, and several others.
For netball, rubber durability is key. For volleyball, synthetic hides provide proper grip and flight.
Best Ways to Store or Maintain the Balls
Ideally, both balls should be kept at stable room temperature when not being played.
Outdoor volleyballs should avoid excessive heat which could degrade the synthetic leather over time if outside.
Avoid kicking or puncturing either ball during storage for maximum lifespan.
How a New Ball Compares to an Old One
When brand new, both balls will bounce and perform at their liveliest.
With extensive play time, the materials break down and the balls lose pressure and reaction speed.
Old netball and volleyballs should be replaced for competitive play once the surfaces go slick or bounce disappears.
So in summary, while similar in shape, netball and volleyball balls differ significantly in their interior construction and resulting play performance. This gives each an advantage perfectly suited to their arena of play!