If you like practicing team sports and have some space available in your backyard, setting up your own volleyball court might just be the perfect weekend project for you. Volleyball is a sport played by millions of people both on competitive and recreational levels and is not only a great way to stay in shape but also provides guaranteed fun for family and friends. Here you will learn how to set up your own volleyball court.
The first thing you need to ensure is that your backyard has the necessary conditions. The correct dimensions of a volleyball court are 29'-6” wide by 59'-0” long; these measurements should be made from the outside edges of the court boundary lines. Additionally, you should have at least 10' around the playing area, which constitutes a safety area for the players. The area above the court should be free from obstructions such as tree branches or power lines, and the playing area should be level.
If the available area meets these requirements, you can start making a shopping list for the materials required. You will need a volleyball net, two supporting poles (between 10.5' and 16', depending if you're setting your court in grass or sand) and aircraft cables. If you want to set up your court on grass then the process is relatively simple, but if you're aiming at a beach volleyball court, that will require a bit more work and other materials, such as landscaping fabric, drainage pipes, gravel and, of course, sand.
Before you start with any hard work, take in consideration the direction of the court when planning its layout. The length of the court should run from North to South. If the orientation is East/West, then you will be strongly limiting the playing time, since in early mornings and late afternoons one of the teams would be staring directly at the sun, making the match unplayable.
If you want a beach volleyball court then the next step is to excavate the total playing area between 1 and 3 foot deep. Before you start digging make sure that there are no power lines or utilities installed in that area. To avoid ending up playing in a mud puddle, your court should have a proper drainage system. Install a drainage ditch which leads away from the lowest point of the court. Afterwards, lay perforated drainage pipe across the court, with its closed end placed at the highest point in the excavation. The pipe should have a zig-zag shape and its open end should be at the lowest point. The perforated side of the pipe should be laid down, to allow the water to be carried away. Before you lay the pipe, you should wrap it with landscaping fabric, which will prevent sand and dirt to clog the pipe.
After the drainage system is installed, cover it up with uniformly spread gravel. This base should then be covered with landscape fabric, that will keep the sand from mixing with the gravel. Finally, spread one to two feet of sand uniformly throughout the court. When buying the sand for your court be aware that not all sand is the same. The ideal is beach sand or washed masonry sand; a more washed sand will be less dusty. If you are on a tight budget and, therefore, decide to reduce the depth of the sand layer, bear in mind that you will have to regularly shovel it back from the middle of the court to the sides.
Now that the terrain is all laid out, the next step is to set up the court itself. The court boundaries should be marked with brightly coloured tape or rope; for safety reasons thick nylon tape is the best option, since rope might leave burns on an accidental contact. The lines should be two inches wide. The tape or rope should be tightly stretched, so that players will not trip on it. To ensure that they are properly stretched and remain that way, bungee cords can be attached to each corner of the boundary lines. On a sand court, the plane of the net works as an invisible centre line, but on a grass court you should mark the centre, dividing the court in two 30 by 30 foot squares. Also, an attack line should be drawn in each square, 9 feet and 10 inches away from the centre line.
The poles that support the net should be made of any material capable to resist pressure and that won't bend or break when under stress. Galvanized metal and treated wood are the most commonly used materials. To protect the players that will use the court, the poles should be padded. They should be installed 3 feet away from the centre line. To secure the poles the best solution is to cement them in a concrete footing buried 3 feet deep. You can also simply stick them on the ground and hold them with supporting cables, but using concrete allows you to hold the poles in place permanently. If you want to set up a beach volleyball court then you should prepare the concrete footing and place the poles before you lay the gravel.
The final step is to attach the net to the poles using the aircraft cables, which provide an extra security compared to standard rope. A standard outdoor volleyball net measures 32 feet long by 39 inches tall. Be sure to measure the height before you affix it. The measurements should be made from the sand level in a beach volleyball court (no consideration is made for the sinking of the feet in the sand) and from the ground in a grass court (and not from the top of the grass). The official height varies according to gender: for men is 7 feet, 11 5/8 inches, while for women is 7 feet 4 1/8 inches.