What Does a 20-Year World #1 Volleyball Ranking Mean?

What Does a 20-Year World #1 Volleyball Ranking Mean?
Published: 2022-07-22
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So, what does it mean, in the world of volleyball, to be number one? 

Over the past 20 years, world-class volleyball has experienced dominance at different stages, and contexts.  In the 70s Japan, Poland and Russia reigned by winning the Summer Olympics and the World Championships.  In the '80s, Team USA emerged as a dominant power winning the gold medal in Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988).  The '90s was a decade that Italy, Cuba, China (women's), and Serbia (Yugoslavia) alternated the international rankings, but no team had the hegemony of leading the top-level volleyball. 

But from 2002 until 2022, Team Brazil has been considered the best volleyball program in the world.   So what?  What does it mean to be ranked #1, for 20 years in world-class volleyball? 

In such a competitive sport, as volleyball, it means a lot.

Considering that Brazil is a developing country and that its socio-economic status as well the socio-political conditions of the country do not favor sports participation, to say that Brazil has been ranked the best program in indoor volleyball as well as in beach volleyball, both in men’s and women’s categories is a huge, phenomenon.  In this case, it is a huge accomplishment for Brazilian volleyball players from Beach Volleyball, indoors, and Paralympics in both men's and women's.

To date, the level of competitiveness as well as the evolution of strength training and conditioning, technical development expertise, and players’ ability to sustain an elite level of performance over more than 20 years across their careers elicits that volleyball will continue to grow in the next two decades and reach more than a billion of participants across the world (Da Matta, 2021).

But winning in sports has systematically been overlooked by governments and civil society at large.  In the case of Brazil, in the 90’s the F-1 performances of the legendary Brazilian national hero Ayrton Senna, a pilot driving a good McLaren car, but certainly less competitive than both Williams highlighted that heart, tenacity, and determination can inspire a whole nation to overcome its obstacles.

 In 1992, Brazil won the men's volleyball summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, and since then has been on the top of the FIVB rankings. Again, in 1996 and 2000 (Atlanta & Sidney Olympic Games) respectively, Brazilian women's volleyball conquered the bronze medal, but it was in the World Championship of 2002, in Argentina, that Brazil initiated an unprecedented dominance in volleyball and elite athletics.  The criteria for ranking senior volleyball teams are well explained by the FIVB. According to the independent rankings of the FIVB, for the first time in more than 20 years, Brazilian Men’s Volleyball team was ranked 2nd.  

When I first heard the technical evaluators' reports sharing that Brazil was the best volleyball program in the world for 20 years, I could not even imagine how that could be.  But, this past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the International Volleyball Hall of Fame, and once again, we said: "Overall Brazil has the best volleyball in the world!” 

Source FIVB Rankings, retrieved on July 20, 2022.

And everyone can verify why!  In fact, in the women’s volleyball rankings Brazil is ranked second and when averaging both results Brazil surpasses its counterparts.  Adding to this analysis, one could ask:  " But what are the rankings of men's and women's beach volleyball"? 

In women's beach volleyball Brazil has team representation both in first and also third places, moreover, in men's beach volleyball the representation of team Brazil is also expressive…Brazil holds the first and second world rankings, according to the FIVB. 

Since November of 2021, SportsEdTV is documenting the top performances of Team Brazil in the worldly scenario.  This is especially important to demonstrate that through deliberate practice and implementing proper planning for long-term athletes’ preparation, it is possible to achieve outstanding results.  The historical achievement is being reported and documented by SportsEdTV and the perspective to follow the preparation of the Brazilian teams for the FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands/Italy for the women’s and in Poland/ Slovenia for the men’s is absolutely exhilarating.