Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Beach Volleyball Basics

Beach volleyball is a captivating game that can help you achieve your goals of becoming a top athlete. It can be played on grass as well, using portable net systems and rules similar to doubles. Since its addition to the Olympic Games in 1996, beach volleyball has gained popularity worldwide. Many countries host professional tournaments, including the FIVB World Tour, while the AVP serves as the top domestic tour in the United States. USA Volleyball also sponsors the National Training Development Program for beach volleyball and organizes the USA Volleyball National Beach Tour Junior Championships. To qualify for the NBT Championships, players compete in Beach National Qualifiers held across the country.

The History of Beach Volleyball

Beach volleyball was first played in the USA during the 1920s as a recreational activity. However, it wasn’t until the past two decades that the sport gained global recognition. With the collaboration of 217 affiliated National Federations and the active participation of over 50 million players, beach volleyball has become one of the most popular summer sports in the world. The dedication of the pioneers of the sport, often referred to as the “kings and queens of the beach,” has preserved the legacy that continues to inspire players worldwide. Today, we witness the spectacle of beach volleyball on the best beaches around the globe, with athletes like Gene Selznick, Karch Kiraly, Misty May-Treanor, and Kerri Walsh Jennings carrying on the tradition and paving the way for the sport’s inclusion in the Olympic Games.

Why Should You Play Beach Volleyball?

Beach volleyball offers numerous benefits for improving your indoor skills and overall game. Unlike the standard six-person game, the beach variant allows you to touch the ball during every rally. With only two players on the court, you learn to read and anticipate plays more effectively. Additionally, playing under the sun and dealing with wind conditions enhances your adaptability. In beach volleyball, player height is less significant, prioritizing ball control and skill. The beautiful outdoor settings and the opportunity for constant hitting and blocking also help improve your vertical jump. Effective communication is crucial in the sport, and playing beach volleyball strengthens the bond between you and your partner. It is widely encouraged by top-level coaches to engage in beach play as much as possible, with the exception of the day leading up to a match.

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“A lot of indoor players are specialists, but on the beach, you need to play all phases well and have a lot of ball control.” – Karch Kiraly

Rich McLaughlin, head coach of UC Santa Barbara men’s volleyball team, explains the benefits of playing beach volleyball for his players:

“I’ve always encouraged my players to participate in beach games during the off-season. It helps in numerous ways. Firstly, there are fewer players on the beach who can cover up your mistakes, encouraging you to improve your ball control skills. It’s common to see beach players stepping in from the back row to set the ball after an inspirational dig by the setter. Those transition plays often determine the outcome of matches. Additionally, playing on sand helps enhance speed and agility, extending your digging range and improving pursuit after balls. Focused concentration is essential during a beach game, honing your ability to block out distractions. Set personal goals, and prioritize jump serving and passing during the game.”

Basic Rules

  • Players: Two players on each side play on an 8 x 8 meter court. For 3, 4, and 6-person variants, the court is 9 meters per side, with 3 meters of free play area beyond the court lines. Net heights are the same as indoors. Coed and Reverse Coed (net at women’s height) are also popular versions.
  • Ball: The ball used in beach volleyball is specifically designed for outdoor play. It is hand-stitched, slightly larger and heavier than indoor balls, with a synthetic colored or white leather cover. The inside pressure is 0.175 to 0.225 Kg/cm2 (4.3 to 4.6 lb/sq in).
  • Scoring: A 3-set rally match is played with sets to a maximum of 21 points. However, in the third deciding set, there is no upper limit. In a 1-set sideout match, the game is played to 15 points, with a maximum of 17. In rally scoring, either team can score a point, whereas in sideout scoring, teams can only score points on their own service.
  • Ball Contact/Playing the Ball: Each side is allowed a maximum of three shots (contacts). The block counts as a contact, and the net cannot be touched even after the ball has hit the ground (continuation rule). Players can use any part of their body, except for the serve. If the ball is attacked as a hard-driven ball without touching the net, the defending team may slightly hold their first shot in defense. At the net, the ball can be simultaneously held by two players (joust). The attack cannot be completed with an open hand or fingers (tip). If the ball is set over the net as an attack, it must travel perpendicularly to the player’s shoulder line.
  • Timeouts/Substitutions/Court Changes: Each team has four timeouts of 30 seconds. Substitutions are allowed, and teams swap courts every multiple of a point. There are no positional or rotational faults, except for the service order.
  • Other: Players are allowed to go under the net as long as they don’t interfere with their opponents. Deliberate prevention of the opposition from seeing the server (screening) is not allowed. In case of injury, a one-time five-minute rest is allowed. In rally scoring, the served ball is allowed to touch the net, but in sideout scoring, the serve may not.
  • Officials: At a simple level, the losing team referees the next match, with one player acting as the referee while the players keep score. At the highest level, there is a first referee (in charge), second referee (assistant), scorer, linespersons (4), ball retrievers, and sand levelers.
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FAQs

Q1. Is beach volleyball only played on beaches?
No, beach volleyball can also be played on grass using the same rules and portable net systems.

Q2. What are the benefits of playing beach volleyball for indoor players?
Playing beach volleyball helps indoor players improve their ball control, reading and anticipating skills, adaptability to different conditions, and overall agility. It also allows players to strengthen their bond with their partner and enhances their vertical jump.

Q3. How is beach volleyball scored?
A 3-set rally match is played with sets to a maximum of 21 points. The third deciding set has no upper limit. In a 1-set sideout match, the game is played to 15 points, with a maximum of 17. In rally scoring, both teams can score a point, while in sideout scoring, points can only be scored on one’s own service.

Q4. Are there any restrictions on how the ball can be played in beach volleyball?
In beach volleyball, each side is allowed a maximum of three shots (contacts). The block counts as a contact, and players cannot touch the net after the ball has hit the ground. The ball can be played with any part of the body, except during the serve. If the ball is attacked as a hard-driven ball without touching the net, the defending team may slightly hold their first shot. However, the attack cannot be completed with an open hand or fingertips.

Q5. Can players go under the net in beach volleyball?
Players are allowed to go under the net as long as they do not interfere with their opponents.

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Q6. How are timeouts and substitutions managed in beach volleyball?
Each team has four timeouts of 30 seconds. Substitutions are allowed, and teams swap courts every multiple of a point. There are no positional or rotational faults, except for the service order.

Conclusion

Beach volleyball offers a thrilling and challenging experience for athletes of all levels. The sport’s rich history, popularity, and unique gameplay make it a favorite among players worldwide. Whether you are seeking to enhance your skills, enjoy outdoor play, or strengthen team dynamics, beach volleyball provides an excellent platform for personal and professional growth. Embrace the spirit of the game, soak in the sun, and embark on an unforgettable journey on the sandy beaches, where champions are made.

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