This is definitely an ongoing issue that comes up. Having played volleyball for over 10 years I definitely have had my share of bumps, bruises and floor burned knees, but after years of wearing and not wearing knee pads, I've come to decide that I definitely prefer not wearing the knee pads.
When I was in my first couple years of playing volleyball I definitely did not have a lot of skill so most of the time when I dove for a ball, I was sliding on my knees.
The more skill I developed, the less I needed to slide on my knees. I learned to dive a lot more horizontally, and to use the length of my body to follow the ball. This does not mean I now never dive on my knees, but it's definitely a lot more rare.
You might be thinking, well why not wear the knee pads, just in case, for those rare times when you do have to dive on your knees? To be honest, even when I did wear the knee pads, most of the time they would just slide up or down, and I'd have bruised knees anyway, so they really weren't much protection.
Plus, knee pads stink, literally!! Whether you wash them in between every game or not, they always, always, always will have a terrible smell!
So long story short, after learning to dive a little more properly, and hating the itchy, sweaty, stink of the knee pads, I've come to love NOT wearing them!
I'd love to hear your guys' thoughts? How do you play, bare knees?