Have you ever thought to yourself, “Volleyball is great, but I wish I could play it on the beach!” Well, you can!
Beach volleyball is an official sport that is governed by the Association of Volleyball Professionals (APV), which takes many of its rules from the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) in Switzerland. One of the major differences between indoor and beach volleyball is the size of the court.
According to the Association of Volleyball Professionals (APV), the size of a beach volleyball court should be 52 feet 6 inches (16 meters) long and 26 feet 3 inches (8 meters) wide.
In today’s guide, I’ll speak about the differences between beach and indoor volleyball in terms of court size and gameplay rules.
A Brief History of Beach Volleyball
Like many sports, beach volleyball started off as a fun way to enjoy time with the family. The first instance of something playing volleyball on a beach was in the 1920s in California. A decade later, the game became a favorite in America and in Europe.
In 1948, the world saw its very first beach volleyball tournament. In 1986, the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball was established to govern official tournaments throughout Europe. The sport was officially introduced to the Olympics in 1996, with the first and second-place medals in the male category going to Team USA.
Beach Volleyball Court Dimensions
A beach volleyball court, which is simply known as a sand court, differs in size from indoor volleyball courts. Per APV rules, in accordance with the FIVB, the dimensions of a sand court should be 52 feet 6 inches long and 26 feet 3 inches wide (16 × 8 meters). Indoor volleyball courts are 59 feet long and 29 feet 6 inches wide (18 × 9 meters).
How Does Beach Volleyball Differ from Indoor Volleyball?
According to the AVP, there are several gameplay rules that differ between beach and indoor volleyball. The following table will sum them up.
|Point of Difference||Indoor Volleyball||Beach Volleyball|
|Team Size||A team consists of 6 active players. Teams can substitute players up to 6 times per set. The number of bench players is not determined.||A team consists of 2 players. There are no substitutions.|
|Player Positions||The serving and receiving teams rotate positions when the receiving team scores a point. The serving team only rotates after losing possession of the ball.||Only the server is switched after gaining possession of the ball.|
|Attack Line||The attack line, which separates frontcourt from backcourt players, is 9 feet 10 inches (3 meters) from the center line.||There is no attack line on beach volleyball courts.|
|Winner||A set is won by being the first team to score 25 points. The winning team must win 3 sets.||A set is won by being the first team to score 21 points. The winning team must win 2 sets.|
|Score System||Only the serving team can score a point. If the serving team loses possession of the ball, the receiving team does not receive a point.||Both teams can score a point regardless of who serves the ball.|
|Weather Conditions||Games are not affected by the weather.||Games are only played during ideal weather conditions. If it rains, the game is postponed.|
|Ball Size and Weight||The ball must measure 25.5 to 26.5 inches in circumference and weigh between 9 and 10 ounces.||The ball must measure between 25.9 and 26.8 inches in circumference and weigh between 9 and 10 ounces.|
|Ball Material||The ball is made with real or synthetic leather panels, which are glued together to create a smooth surface.||The ball is made with real or synthetic leather panels, which are stitched together to create a soft surface.|
|Tipping||Players can tip the ball over the net.||Players can only strike the ball using their palms or straight/curled fingers.|
|Blocking||A block does not count as a touch, so the team can still hit the ball 3 more times.||A block counts as a touch, so the team can hit the ball only 2 more times.|
|Uniforms||Players typically wear spandex shirts and pants.||Players typically wear beach shorts, tank tops, or bikinis. Footwear is not required unless the organizing committee says so.|
As you can see from the difference in gameplay rules, beach volleyball will usually end more quickly than indoor volleyball, assuming the game is held during ideal weather conditions.
Beach Volleyball Basics
The rules of playing in an official beach volleyball tournament are pretty much identical to those for indoor volleyball, except for the differences highlighted above. Here, I’ll explain the basic principles of beach volleyball.
How to Score a Point
You score a point when the ball makes contact with your opponent’s side of the sand court. If the ball lands anywhere outside the court, the opposing team scores a point.
3 Touches per Side
After receiving a serve from the serving team, the players can only make 3 touches or contacts with the ball before it has to pass over the net. Block the ball is counted as a touch, so the team must try to send the ball over the net in 2 touches or less.
No player can hit the ball multiple times in a row. The only exception is when you hit the ball twice in a single swinging motion (accidental “doubling”).
First to 2 Sets
Beach volleyball is played using a best-of-3 system. To win a set, a team must score 21 points. However, in the third and final set, the game is played to 21 or with a minimum score difference of 2 after 21 points.
For instance, if the game is forced to the third set, the winning team must score 21 points to their opponent’s 19. If the score is tied at 21-21, the first team to lead the scoreboard in 2 points (e.g., 25-23, 27-25, 31-29) wins the set and the match.
Players switch to the other side of the sand court after every 7 points. When the players are in the third set, they switch to the other side after every 5 points.