While ankle braces fit comfortably in most traditional athletic shoes or sneakers with a tongue and laces, there are some shoes that don’t work well with braces.

If you purchase an ankle brace and can’t fit it inside your shoe, or its uncomfortable while you’re wearing it with your shoes, it may be due to the design or style of the shoe and not the ankle brace. For that reason, it’s a good idea to know up front which shoes you should avoid when wearing your ankle braces.

The style of sneaker that works best with ankle braces have a traditional tongue and laces design so you can spread out the opening of the shoe and easily insert the ankle brace. Low-top athletic shoes work best with ankle braces because they don’t apply undue pressure over your ankle bones like a mid- or high-top shoe will.

Athletic shoe styles are changing all the time. It’s important to know how these new styles impact the fit of an ankle brace inside the shoe. In recent years athletic shoe companies have been introducing sneakers that deviate from the traditional shoe design. Rather than having a traditional tongue and laces, this new style of shoe has a collar or sleeve design that makes it almost impossible to fit the brace in the shoe. These shoes typically are of the mid- or high-top design and are hardest to fit an ankle brace inside.

We have found that our customers with these newer types of shoes can usually wear a hinged ankle brace if their foot size is above a women’s size 9 or a men’s size 7 – it all depends on how large the opening to the sleeve of the shoe is.

For those without a traditional tongue and laces design, a smaller shoe size, or a high-top shoe a lace-up ankle brace will most likely be the best option for you. The Ultra 360 locks your ankle in place while the figure-8 straps provide 360º of ankle support to help prevent excessive ankle rolling. The multi-adjustable design allows you to customize your level of support.


If you’re an athlete who is planning to wear an ankle brace and you want it to fit in the shoe properly and be comfortable to wear for long periods of time stick with a traditional, low-top sneaker designed for the sport you play.

No high-top shoe is going to prevent an injury in sports that have a higher risk of ankle sprains (such as basketball or volleyball) where the mechanism of injury is coming down from a jump and landing on an opposing players foot at a high velocity. Therefore, we recommend wearing a low top athletic shoe with a high performance ankle brace, like the Ultra Zoom, which is designed to help prevent ankle injuries or lessen the severity should an injury occur. The Ultra Zoom will fit easily in a traditional low top sneaker and provide a comfortable fit all season long. 

Conventional wisdom is that high-top athletic shoes or tall work boots can support the ankle more effectively than low tops primarily because the high-top shoe is higher and therefore has more leverage to grab the ankle and hold it in place. However, todays high-top sneakers are not your parent’s high-tops.

These new high-top designs use flexible and stretchable materials with the goal of being comfortable to wear for long periods of time. And if the material stretches it’s probably not going to provide much in the way of ankle support. While high-top shoes are advertised to provide additional ankle support, the truth is that no shoe can support the joint and help prevent ankle injuries like an ankle brace can. 

Tall Work Boots

Let’s say you are a construction worker and you suffer from ankle osteoarthritis, so you like to wear a sturdy work boot to help stabilize your ankle. Let’s say recently your ankle started hurting on the job site and you’re thinking about getting an ankle brace for additional support.

Two things happen when you try to wear an ankle brace in a tall work boot:

  1. The ankle brace is very difficult to fit inside your tall work boot, or
  2. If you get the brace to fit in the boot it may not be very comfortable. This happens after you lace up the boot, which pushes the sides of the brace against the ankle bones, potentially causing pain and irritation.

In general, we recommend a low-top work shoe where you can spread out the laces enough to easily fit the brace in the shoe. Since the sides of the shoe are below the joint  there is no potential for irritation over your ankle bones. A low-top work shoe combined with a good professional ankle brace can provide more ankle support than a tall work boot worn by itself by far.

For those looking for an ankle brace that will fit in a high-top work boot, the Ultra 360 Lace-up will be your best option. This flexible, fabric brace fits in almost any shoe – providing extra support and compression to help protect your ankle. 

If you have questions about which ankle brace would fit best inside your athletic shoes or work boots you can send one of our athletic trainers a message. They will be able to take a look at a photo of your shoe and help you determine the right ankle brace for your situation. 

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

One thing is certain with volleyball, every year you play the sport it becomes more and more competitive, aggressive, and intense. With the increased level of play comes an increase in injuries, which are oftentimes more severe due to the higher level of intensity athletes are consistently performing at.

Most volleyball players, parents, and coaches have come to accept that the ankle is the most injured body part in volleyball – especially for those of you who play at the net. With the jumping, cutting, and diving in volleyball a tremendous amount of stress is put on the ligaments that hold your ankle joint together. This, in addition to the dangerous environmental factors at play – such as jumping and landing on another players foot – means that the risk of hurting your ankle while playing volleyball is extremely high.

Once an ankle injury has been sustained, you are 70% more likely to re-injure your ankle. Each time your ankle ligaments get stretched or torn from excessive twisting or turning, they never regain their integrity and tightness making it easier to get another ankle sprain. This cycle of injury is common amongst competitive volleyball players and if you’re one of the people who suffers from constantly twisting or spraining your ankle then you’re probably all too familiar with this process.

As a certified athletic trainer, the best advice I can give young competitive volleyball players is to help prevent the cycle of injury before it starts by wearing a preventative ankle brace that is built for athletes and optimized to enhance their performance. Soft, lace-up ankles braces can’t provide the level or length of support serious athletes need and hard plastic ankle braces are too rigid and bulky for many players to tolerate. At Ultra Ankle, we work with some of the top competitive volleyball clubs in the country for their ankle bracing needs. Here are some of the common questions we often hear from parents or players learning more about why ankle braces are important in volleyball –

Do all players need to wear an ankle brace? Or only certain positions? While most teams require all of their players to wear preventative ankle braces due to the constant threat of jumping and coming down on another player’s foot, some teams only require those playing at the net to wear ankle braces. Since our Ultra Zoom preventative ankle brace uses a material that form fits to the ankle, it only restricts any excessive movement that causes injury while allowing you to move in all of the natural ways needed to play your sport. It’s flexible enough for defensive specialists while being  supportive enough for those playing at the net.

Do ankle braces limit my vertical jump? After training hard to maximize your performance and improve your jump height, it’s crucial that your protective gear doesn’t limit you in any way. The only ankle braces that limit your vertical are those without hinges. Any ankle brace that laces up, wraps around, or binds up your ankle is restricting your natural range of motion and therefore limiting your performance. If you play at the net its very important that you choose an ankle brace that is not going to negatively impact your vertical jump.

Will ankle braces weaken my ankle? Currently there is no clinical research that confirms wearing a preventative, hinged brace every practice or game will weaken your ankle or cause injury to another body part such as your knee. If you wear a hinged brace your ankle can move through its full range of motion keeping your joint flexible and your muscles strong.

Aren’t all hinged braces big and bulky or made of hard plastic that is prone to breaking? If you’ve been playing volleyball for awhile you may have noticed that some of the hinged ankle braces players wear are big, bulky, rigid and have a tendency for the hard plastic to crack. And you’re right. It’s because of those outdated designs that we developed the first performance based, hinged ankle brace that uses your body heat to form fit to your ankle for a low-profile, comfortable fit that will never crack or break. It’s not too soft and joint restricting, and it’s also not too bulky and hard. When it comes to volleyball ankle braces, the Ultra Zoom fits just right. It’s on your ankle in seconds, protects you consistently for hours, and lasts for years.

Will the Ultra Zoom ankle brace work for my specific ankle condition? Since every volleyball player and their ankle injury history is different, we offer the ability to message our certified athletic trainers directly to receive a customized bracing recommendation. If you’re interested in learning more about which one of our Ultra Ankle braces would be best for you, send our athletic trainers a message.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

With the start of club season, it might not seem like your freshman year of college is quickly approaching. But let me be one of the many to tell you that it will be here before you know it. Aside from continuing to work hard at improving your game, there are plenty of things that you can be doing to help get yourself ready to take that big step from club to college volleyball.

Get to Know Your Teammates

After you’ve made your commitment, take some time to get to know the other freshmen that are coming in with you. Connect with each other on social media, text back and forth, check to see if you’re playing in the same tournaments so you can meet face to face – whatever works for you to establish some sort of relationship. This is a great way to relieve some of your nerves when you arrive on campus in the summer as well as helps your class start bonding long before you hit the court together. 

Learn More About the Game

One of the biggest differences between club and college is the speed of the game. The biggest thing you can do to help prepare yourself is to learn as much about volleyball as possible. I think too many times, freshmen come into the gym and are surprised by what they see and it takes them a month or two to get used to that speed. Talk to parents, coaches, and other mentors in your club to see what skills they feel like you could improve on a little more before college season starts. Utilize your existing club network to become the best player you can be before heading off to a new school with a new group of teammates. Above everything else, remember that volleyball is a game of mistakes (even at the highest levels!) so just keep playing. 

Manage Your Time

Your club may practice multiple times a week for 2-3 hours a night. It can be hard to manage all of your volleyball obligations in addition to school activities and homework but your schedule will only get crazier in college! The best thing you can do to help get ready is learn how to manage your time and prioritize the important items. Once you become a collegiate athlete, you will have to learn to manage your time wisely and effectively otherwise certain responsibilities will start to fall behind. In college, you will have practice, film sessions, weight lifting and study tables all in addition to your classroom studies. Learn how to manage your time wisely now!

Stay in Shape

While it’s important to celebrate your last club season and enjoy your last few days of high school, it’s equally as important that you don’t get super out of shape in the offseason. By eating right, keeping up with your strength and conditioning work, doing what you can to prevent injuries, and getting plenty of rest you won’t fall behind before you head to campus.  Pre-season conditioning and workouts can be brutal even if you are in shape, so doing whatever you can to help get the season started on the right foot is a must.

Keep Playing & Have Fun!

Transitioning from club to college volleyball can be an exciting, but stressful, time in your life. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, always remember how fun the game can be. This should never change, regardless of the level at which you are playing. Never forget why you started playing volleyball in the first place and why you love the game. The next thing you know you’ll be hanging up your jersey after your senior year, looking back at how fast the time flew by!

Guest post written by former collegiate volleyball athlete, Aubreigh Applegate.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

Can you believe it’s almost time for another season to get started? It always seems that no matter how many years you play, the excitement for a new season never fades and then it’s over before you know it! Because practice time is so limited during volleyball season, it’s important to make the most of the time with your teammates and coaches while you can. By prepping for the season before it arrives you are not only bettering yourself as a player, but also doing your part in helping your team. As a college coach, here are the top three things I expect my players to do to prep for an upcoming season.

Be Prepared Physically

Most schools only have a short window to get their teams ready for the season. As a coach, the last thing that I want to do with my players when they come to campus is to take time out of practice to get them in shape. Make sure to schedule or find time to do your training and conditioning over the summer. No matter how hard it may be at the time, you will always thank yourself in the long run. If everyone on your team comes back in the gym in good physical shape, you will get more time with a ball to work on skills to make sure you are all ready on the court. 

Be on Top of Your Mental Game

Come to try outs and practices with the mentality that you want to get better. Speaking as a coach, the best players are not always the most skilled or athletic but those that come in day in and day out and want to get better. They aren’t going to settle for anything less than their best. They want to compete.

Set Your Priorities

What do you want to accomplish this season? Don’t let small things get in the way of those goals. Sure, you will set team goals, but it takes each individual team member working together and trying to better themselves to be successful. If you have a tournament, do what it takes to make sure you are physically and mentally ready. This means getting the proper amount of rest and fueling your body the right away – not staying up all night eating junk food. Not only are you setting your priorities, but you are doing your job to help your team.

In my opinion, volleyball is the epitome of a team sport. It will take each and every member of your team to help make your season successful so make sure you do your role to help your team get off to a successful season. Good luck and have fun!

Guest post written by Coach Ashlee Pritchard. 

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for volleyball players. Club season has officially begun and you are gearing up to head to your first tournament. Packing may seem like the easy part, but sometimes you’ll need more than you think for a two or three day tournament. Use this checklist to ensure nothing gets left behind and you have everything packed away in your bag that you need.

Uniforms – Speaking from experience, go ahead and pack them ALL! It’s better to pack all of your uniforms rather than the ones you think you’ll wear just in case something unexpected happens. The incident of a teammate forgetting the uniform you were expected to wear, getting the memo of what uniform to wear confused, or even something getting stolen are all possible incidents you could run into.

Shoes – This one seems simple, but forgetting your shoes could easily happen to you. Over my 8 years of playing club and college volleyball I have left my shoes a handful of times. I watched a teammate I played college ball with forget her shoes when we were 6 states away from home and ended up having to wear shoes that were two sizes too small for her the entire weekend. OUCH!

Socks – Pack lots of these, your feet will begin to stink! Also nothing feels better than a fresh pair of socks after you have been playing all day.

Protective Gear – Aside from your uniform and shoes, your protective gear is something you absolutely cannot leave at home! The proper kneepads and ankle braces are the key to preventing injuries while playing competitive volleyball, so make sure to stick them in your bag before you leave. Along those same lines, make sure to double check your protective gear to make sure your kneepads aren’t ripping or your ankle braces aren’t loose/cracking. If you need new gear, make sure to do your research before the tournaments begin as to which kneepads and which volleyball ankle braces are best for you.

Spandex – You can never have enough spandex packed for the weekend. If you team provides you with more than one color of spandex make sure to pack them all.

Sweat Suit – Facilities and convention centers tend to get cold at times. Having a sweatshirt and sweatpants to quickly throw on in between matches is always a plus.

Headphones – These are a great essential to take to your tournaments as facilities and convention centers tend to be very loud through the day. With all of the whistles, cheering, and bouncing balls it’s nice to have something to block all the noise when those breaks between matches start to feel long.

Personal Items – Speaking of convention centers getting loud all day, it’s never a bad idea to pack something that might remedy a headache or muscle soreness if you need it. Personal items such as medications, chapstick, bandaids, and extra contacts/glasses should be brought along just in case something unexpected happens.

Phone/ Phone Charger – Who can live without their phone these days? (Don’t forget the charger!)

Water Bottle – Don’t forget to bring your own water bottle! Water bottles at tournaments can tend to be very expensive and seem to only last you one match or so.

Cash – If you’re someone who likes to hit up the concession stand, vendor booths, or vending machines make sure to bring a few dollars in case they don’t accept cards.

Deodorant – “Deo for your B.O.”… Travel size works perfectly for a quick weekend away. Long days of playing and sweating can definitely call for some quick deodorant to be applied.

Hair Accessories – These range from headbands, to hair ties, to bows. It is fun to add different hair accessories to your volleyball attire. You can even start fun traditions with your team with these.

Scented Sprays – Sprays come in handy after a long day of play when it is time to hop in the car and drive back home. This is one necessity you might forget about at the beginning of the season. I mean who ever thought you could have stinky knees?!

Snacks – You never know when hunger will strike so make sure to bring a couple snacks that will help fuel you through a long day of competition.

So, there you have it! The items above are what I always made sure to pack when traveling to club volleyball tournaments across the country – what would you add to the list? Let us know what’s in your volleyball bag in the comments!

Guest post written by former collegiate volleyball athlete Aubreigh Applegate.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

As if spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a year on playing volleyball itself alone isn’t enough, sometimes the volleyball player in your life deserves a little something extra. Whether you’re shopping for holiday gifts, birthday presents, or just a little something to surprise your teammate/best friend one of these gifts would be perfect for the volleyball player in your life.

Ornaments – A great holiday tradition to start would be getting an ornament for your volleyball player every winter listing the year, their team, their number, and other memorable stats. Once they’re older you can gather up their volleyball ornaments over the years and let them put them on their own display. Even better, if you have multiple volleyball players in your family – start a volleyball themed Christmas tree with personalized and volleyball-centric ornaments.

Fabric Deodorizers  – Ok, so if you’re a parent this gift may be more for you than your player but sometimes it’s just necessary. Travel size bottles of Febreze or other odor sprays can be perfect stocking stuffers that end up being kept in a travel bag to help control some of the awful odors that can be found in there. I’m talking about you, knee pads.

T-Shirt/Sweatshirt of their Favorite College Team – If your volleyball player is working hard towards earning a scholarship at their favorite school, help them dress the part before they get that offer letter. Oversize t-shirts and sweatshirts are the perfect gift for athletes.

Art – For the more creative volleyball player in your life, look to the internet to find some volleyball inspired art and prints. Items such as these volleyball string art boards, printable volleyball graphics that you can print and frame at home, and custom photo prints would all make great gift ideas.

Updated Gear – If you need to buy new gear for volleyball season you might as well wrap it and consider it a gift, right?? Why not! Make sure to take advantage of holiday sales to buy new stuff for the upcoming club season such as shoes, knee pads, volleyball ankle braces, and Spandex.

Water Bottle – While some people may think that a water bottle could be a boring gift, they always come in handy when you’re constantly on the go. Think outside of the box and look into creating a personalized water bottle for the volleyball player in your life, maybe with their team photo and number right on the cup. We love these volleyball travel bottles on Etsy.

Headbands – Just like water bottles, a volleyball player can never have too many headbands. Look into getting your player’s favorite headbands in a variety of styles and make sure she’s fully stocked for this upcoming club season.

Volleyball Phone Case – If you’re looking for something to give a volleyball player that they will use more than just while at a game, a new phone case is the perfect gift idea. Make sure you double check what type of phone case you will need before purchasing!

Sneaker Deodorizer Balls – Maybe this could be a joint gift with the odor spray mentioned above, but if you’re constantly plagued by the scent of smelly, gross volleyball shoes these might be able to help clear the air for a little while.

Headphones – While a phone case can be a cheaper tech gift option, you can always take it up a notch by buying your volleyball player some noise cancelling headphones. These headphones are perfect to drown out the sounds of yelling, balls, and whistles at tournaments to help concentrate before a game or eliminate background noise while traveling and trying to get some rest.

Hand-Tied Fleece Blanket – Everyone I know has been cold at some point or another traveling to/from and being at volleyball tournaments. By buying a couple pieces of fleece fabric you can easily create a hand-tied fleece blanket to create a gift that your volleyball player will definitely get some good use out of.

Keychain Accessories – It’s pretty common for players to collect items to put on their backpacks from each tournament or event they go to, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more! Keychain accessories, such as pendants, team names, and numbers, are an inexpensive way to help commemorate a memorable game or season.

DIY It! – Doing a quick Pinterest search of “Volleyball Party” ideas will give you tons of ideas on items you could create yourself as gifts for your volleyball player, coach, or team. From hair bows to pillows to cake pops to bling-ed out shoes, there is something for every crafting skill level!

Jewelry – Volleyball rings, jewelry, and bracelets are a great gift to give to the accessorized athlete in your life. Volleyball jewelry options on Etsy range from low cost earrings to personalized necklaces to stackable rings. 

If you’re still looking for gift ideas for the volleyball player in your life, I hope this list has helped spark some ideas! If you’re already done with your holiday shopping, what good gift ideas would you share that others could use to help shop for their favorite volleyball player? Let us know in the comments!

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

As a previous collegiate student athlete I can tell you my journey getting there was not as simple and easy as most people probably would think. I was not 6’0 tall, I was not the best of the best, and I did not come from a family of collegiate athletes that knew how the recruiting system worked. But I did know one thing – that I was going to do whatever it took to become a collegiate volleyball player.

When it came to being recruited, I simply thought at some point if I kept working hard and bettering myself every day that I would see offers from several schools rolling in and I wouldn’t have to do a thing. Yes, I received those exciting letters in the mail and felt like I was on top of the world when I got them but I never really knew what to do after that. I thought that I simply just had to keep attending practice and winning games and they would do the rest. I quickly found out this was not the case… The recruiting process became almost like a full time job.

I was entering my junior year of high school piecing together videos to send off to colleges, taking calls each week from coaches, researching and visiting schools across the country, and learning how to market myself as a player. In the end, it all became worth it though when I finally accepted a scholarship from a DI volleyball program.

So any of you feeling the pressure of time running slim, or even for those of you early in your volleyball career here a few quick tips on how to best start the recruitment journey:

Start Now

Do not wait until schools start reaching out to you! There are a lot of contact rules that schools have to follow, so sometimes they are waiting on you to reach out to them. The best thing about starting early is that you can learn from your mistakes and have time to fix them or make them better in the end. It takes some time to learn and perfect how to market yourself as a player and by starting early you are only leaving more room to grow.

Some things you can start doing today include:

  • Look up potential schools and both their academic and volleyball program reputations to identify which would be a good fit for you as both a student and a player.
  • Learn more about coaches and their track record to determine if their coaching style is one you’d work well with.
  • Begin recording and collecting highlight clips and learning how to make those into a professional video to market yourself.
  • Create a timeline of goals for yourself to achieve over the next few years. Having deadlines in place help keep you on track to reach certain goals and ensure you won’t get behind in the recruiting process.

Do Your Research

Start researching schools you think you would be interested in. Talk to former teammates, coaches, parents, and friends and begin compiling a list of schools that you are interested in learning more about. When researching potential schools, there are lots of things you need to consider including:

  • Is a degree offered in the area of study you want to join?
  • Is the volleyball program one you could see yourself a part of?
  • Is the campus a right fit for you?
  • Do you have any connections to that school (friends, family, former teammates) that could provide insight, help you set up an initial meeting, or give you a tour of campus?

These are all important things to gain insight on before choosing a school and program to be a part of. This allows you to narrow down and pin point specific schools that best fit your needs as a student and player before reaching out for more information.

Reach Out

Don’t be afraid to reach out to schools that you have not heard from. Simply put together a brief email introducing yourself and list your achievements as a player. It’s also important to include why you find their school and program appealing and to ask if a visit to the school would be an option.

With your initial contact email, you should include links to videos and highlights you have put together, or even a copy of your tournament schedules. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO GET RECRUITED! This gets your name out there for coaches, not only for specific schools, but all schools. Coaches communicate and you never know, even that one video you send out could end up in the hands of several college coaches.

Once you take this step in the recruitment process you will recognize more coaches coming to watch your games and more letters and emails coming in. Congratulations! You are one step closer to accepting that offer.

Seek Help if Needed

The luxury many players have these days is the assistance of someone to help them with this entire process. Find someone that is familiar with the process, like a coach or former athlete, that will be dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. You can find help easily either over the internet on specific websites, or from your local recruiting coordinator if one is provided. These recruiting coordinators have spoken with many college coaches and know what coaches are looking for within their programs and could find you a doorway into a great volleyball program. Just remember, do not let them do all the work as it’s important to stay engaged in the process.

Work Toward Your Goal

Set a goal for yourself and work towards it. It might take long hours in and out of the gym, but I promise you will get there. There will be days of doubt, but the hard work and dedication will all be worth it in the end.

If you’re an athlete, parent, or coach that has gone through or is currently going through the recruiting process what tips would you give other athletes to help them achieve their goals? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

On September 10, 2016 Assumption (Louisville) girls’ volleyball coach Ron Kordes won the 1,000th match of his career in the semifinals of the Ultra Ankle® Louisville Invitational Volleyball Tournament.

We recently spoke with Coach Kordes, who is also the Club Director of Louisville-based volleyball club KIVA, to congratulate him on his career milestone and also to ask him his professional opinion on ankle injuries and volleyball ankle braces.


If you started playing volleyball at a young age like I did and continued to play through college, there comes a point when you’ve spent (at least) 50% of your life on a volleyball team. Some extremely talented players will have the opportunity to continue playing competitive volleyball after college, but the rest of us are forced to retire (aside from the occasional rec league) after hanging up our college, high school, or club jerseys for the last time.

It turns out that once you’ve dedicated half of your life to something, such as playing a sport, you’ll never be the same afterwards. For me, volleyball was engrained into who I am as a person and even though I no longer play competitively I still find myself thinking about and being reminded of the sport almost daily. Check out my list of things that only ex-volleyball players can relate to and let me know what you would add in the comments!

When you realize it’s no longer acceptable to publicly live in spandex. After wearing spandex 24/7 for over a decade, I realized that most people actually don’t consider them real pants after the first time I felt the stares of judgment & disapproval.

When you’re now the coach and you finally understand every single thing your coaches have ever said to you. It’s a rude awakening discovering why my coach was so frustrated with us all the time. It just can’t be that hard to say “I GOT IT” or get your serve IN the court, can it?!

Knowing that you’ll never have to INVOLUNTARILY participate in two-a-day preseasons ever again. Ahhhhh…sweet, sweet bliss.

When you can actually keep a manicure intact for more than two days! Who knew they had the potential to last this long?!

You reflexively yell “MINE” when someone tosses something in your general direction. Sorry, it’s a habit!

When you would KILL to have just one more “Christmas in August.” You mean I don’t get huge shipments of clothing and new gear like ankle braces and shoes every season anymore?!  What am I supposed to wear all fall?

You still cringe every time you see someone kick a volleyball. It’s just unnecessary & it hurts.

When your mind giggles a little when you’re coaching and yell “ON THE LINE” at your girls and you can literally see the fear in their eyes. It all really does come full circle.

When you put on a pair of spandex after 5 years and wonder HOW you wore these for 25% of your life. I swear, they used to be so comfortable.  FYI, it’s actually NOT ok to publicly pick a wedgie.

When “carb-loading” turns into “carb-free.” Because apparently a Friday isn’t a good enough reason to carb-load??

When you go out and think you can play like you’re still a collegiate athlete. You end up not being able to get out of bed for two weeks and you look like one giant bruise. My body just cannot do it anymore… time to accept it & move on.

When you’re coaching and your girls take an entire practice to organize their warm up routine and perfect their cheers. There’s just no way we put this much energy into this when I played…right?

Missing that team family bond. There’s just nothing like it outside of the sports world. I will always be missing those 12 crazy sisters you once called your teammates.

The moment you remember this is rec volleyball and not the National Championship. Once I realized I could get my volleyball fix by joining a rec team I was the first one to sign up but it turns out I can only go 1000% or not at all. There is just no in between!

Watching kneepads virtually disappear. What is this 1/4-inch piece of foam nonsense?  Come on, who remembers the 3-inch bubble pads?!

Uniforms just aren’t the same. When back in our day, it was UNACCEPTABLE to wear anything but knee high socks.

When your knees are bruise-free & you wonder what’s wrong. After 15 years of never seeing a patch of normal unbruised/burnt/scabbed skin on my knees, it is a welcome introduction. “Nice to meet you, normal human knees!”

Why is everyone here so short? For the first time you feel a little “out of place” when you realize that not everyone in the world is over 6-foot & you have a mini height identity crisis.

When you finally grasp just how much you owe your parents. Waking up at 3am to drive you to your tournaments every weekend and then sitting in a gym for 36 hours watching you play is a lot more work than I ever gave them credit for. Thanks for being great volleyball parents, Mom & Dad!!

When you actually have to learn how to braid your own hair. Every team had that one girl who you scheduled your hair braiding appointment with before your first match of the day.

As a coach, the first time you say something to your girls that one of your coaches always said to you and you can’t believe those words actually just came out of your mouth. I guess it really is all engrained in my brain forever!

The heartache of knowing you’ll never get to celebrate a championship point ever again. I’d give anything to relive that feeling on the court just one more time.  Too bad it’s not socially appropriate to jump, scream, fall to your knees, and cry tears of elation when you get a good parking spot…

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

Yes, there is etiquette for being a great volleyball parent. After paying all of that money and investing all of your time into your child’s sport, you don’t want to end up being that parent, do you? You know, the one screaming from the sidelines at the officials and players, bugging the coach before/during/after practice, or causing a scene after a loss.

Ok, it may be rare that you find a parent that bad in volleyball because most of being a great volleyball parent is common sense. That being said, it still needs to be reinforced occasionally that there are some things that are frowned upon.

Respect the Coach

While it goes without saying that everyone should respect the coach of the team, sometimes people forget that disrespect can be portrayed in other ways that aren’t as obvious as yelling or being rude.

Never talk about playing time with the coach – If you’re concerned about the amount of time your daughter is playing, encourage her to organize a time to meet with her coach one-on-one and ask what she needs to improve upon to gain more playing time.

Give the coach their space after a loss – Coaches are often extremely competitive and take losses as hard, if not harder, than other people. It’s best to keep your comments about the game to yourself immediately following a loss unless you’ve really gotten to know the coach’s personality.

Teach respect by showing respect – Your volleyball player will learn how to address and treat their coach by observing how you speak with their coach. When possible, keep criticisms and opinions to yourself unless asked. Allow the coaches to be the leader they were chosen to be ­– they are the coach for a reason.

Be Courteous at Tournaments

Between travelling, play time, and waiting between games, volleyball tournaments can be long, grueling days. Being surrounded by hundreds (if not thousands) of people all day, constantly hearing whistles being blown, and getting occasionally hit in the head with a ball can wear any parent’s patience thin. Keep these tips in mind as you’re trying to keep your cool:

Share your memories – If you regularly videotape the matches, try to upload them and share them with other parents that couldn’t make it to the tournament. If the team doesn’t have someone in charge of recording matches, share the videos with the coach for analysis purposes.

Never yell at the officials – Even if you’re right, yelling at or critiquing the officials being paid to do their job sets a bad example for the players and other children watching.

Encourage the Players

Be positive with every player – While it’s up to your discretion how positive to be with your own child, sometimes players whose parents weren’t able to make the tournament also need a few positive words of encouragement. If you notice that some parents aren’t in attendance that day, try to say a few kind words to their player just as you hope another parent would do in your absence.

Be realistic about your child’s ability – Not every volleyball player is destined to be a superstar. Don’t spend your time comparing your daughter’s abilities to others, instead continue helping her to improve week after week.

Learn the Sport

If you’ve never seen a volleyball game before, it can take some time to learn the general rules. Once you’ve got an idea of what’s going on in the big picture, take some time to learn the specific rules of the game. This will help you understand why the coach chose certain strategies during game situations, help explain those decisions to your daughter, and allow you to make informed constructive critiques of her play.

These four keys to being a great volleyball parent are only a starting block. Take some time to learn from veteran volleyball parents how you can make the game the most enjoyable for your player while still having a good time yourself. If you’re a veteran volleyball parent what would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries