How to Play Beach Volleyball

Three players on the beach

Welcome to beach volleyball, a fun sport that is played outdoors in the sand with at least four players (as doubles - two per team) playing the ball over a net to score points. Ever since the game was invented in Hawaii in 1915, it has been steadily growing in popularity.

If you too want to start playing volleyball in the sand, then the following article will show you how to do that.

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1. Know How Beach Volleyball Is Played - The Basics

Beach volleyball is officially played with two teams of two players, one team on each side of the net. To start playing, first make sure you have three other people to do a game with! 

1.1 Take Your Positions

There are no fixed positions when you’re playing on the beach. Unlike in the sport of indoor volleyball, no player has to be in front of the other as the rally begins.

It is recommended that players position themselves side by side when receiving the ball. Each player takes up half of the court.

When serving, the server is behind the line, and the other person is at the net to block the ball — or in the middle of the court, ready to defend the other team’s attack.

1.2 Rotate For The Service

After the first player on your team has served, but you lost the point, it is the other team’s turn to serve. If you then score, your team gets to serve again. Now, your second player has to be the one to do the serve. This is how you rotate for the service in beach volleyball.

Two men positioned in the court

1.3 Switch Sides

Teams switch sides every seven points. This is done to make the game fair, because one side often has an advantage when it comes to wind or sun influence as you’re playing outdoors.

If the game gets to a third, tie-break set, you’re switching sides every five points, because the third set only goes to fifteen points.

1.4 Do A Maximum Of Three Touches

You’re allowed to do at most three touches between the two players on your team to get the ball over the net. The same person can’t touch the ball twice in a row. Except when the first touch was a block. Then you’re allowed to do another hit to play the ball to your partner or directly over the net.

You do not have to do three total hits— it’s optional. You can also put it over on one or two. But the basic strategy uses three contacts: Pass, set, and attack.

In beach volleyball, a touch on the block counts as one of three allowed hits. If the ball touched your hands or arms while you were trying to block it, you only get two more hits to play it over. 

1.5 How to Score Points

Beach volleyball uses the rally scoring system: Any time you put the ball away on the other side of the court, or the opposing team makes a mistake, you receive a point.

It's best out of three sets - you have to win two sets to win the match.

The first two sets are played to 21 points (win by two). If the set score is tied at 1:1, a third tie-break set is played until 15 points (also win by two).

Feel free to read our deep dive into all the official regulations for a complete explanation of the rules of beach volleyball.

2. Find a Court And Get The Necessary Equipment

Three people setting up a net

After you have enough players – at least four – to play beach volleyball, it’s time for the next step:

2.1 How to find sand courts

One way to find a place to play beach volleyball is to do a Google search for ‘beach volleyball court near me’. Many cities have permanent courts set up in parks or at beaches, often free for the public to use. There’s also businesses that offer a nice environment you can play in—outdoors or in an indoor sand facility—for an hourly fee.

2.2 Find a net - or set up your own

If you can’t find a spot with posts and net already installed, you could always buy or borrow a portable net system and set up your own court on the beach.

Make sure you get the correct set of lines to make it the official 8 by 8 meters each side.

2.3 Use a proper volleyball for the beach

Beach volleyball uses a different ball than regular volleyball. It’s recommended you get a proper one that’s made for the beach. It will be lighter, bigger, and softer than a normal volleyball.

This makes the ball easier and more fun to play with when you’re outdoors with just one other player on your team.

The official implement used in professional FIVB Beach Volleyball Pro Tour tournaments is the Mikasa BV550C, while the AVP uses the Wilson OPTX. There are also more affordable options available that still offer a good playing experience.

2.4 Wear the right clothing

Beach volleyball players almost almost play barefoot. It is not recommended to wear shoes like you would indoors, because they will sink into the sand, making it harder to move.

In very cold or wet weather, you could wear sand socks made out of neoprene, to keep your feet warm.

For their attire, male players like to wear flexible shorts and quick-drying tank tops or t-shirts. Women often opt to play in a bikini, or spandex shorts with a sporty top or t-shirt.


3. Use The Correct Contacts


3.1 Serve the Ball

Standing behind the back line, toss the ball into the air in front of you, and hit it over the net into the other court for a successful serve in the sand.

3.2 Pass it

When you’re receiving the other team's serve, bend your knees, form your arms into a platform, and pass the beach volleyball to the middle of the court.

Video Poster Image

3.3 Set it

After your partner has passed the ball, run to it, and use your platform or a beach volleyball setting motion to set your partner up to hit.

3.4 Hit it

Wait for your partner’s set about four steps away. When the ball is in the air, take two running steps and plant your feet to jump. One, Two, Three-Four. Jump up to the ball, pull your arm back, and hit the ball into the sand with your hand over the net.

3.5 Block it

To stop the other team from hitting into your court, squat down in front of the attacker at the net, jump up, and reach with both arms above and over the net. Be careful not to touch the net. Only touch the ball on the other side of the court if the attacker has already hit it.

3.6 Defend it

Dig up the ball in the back court by bending your knees and playing the ball with one or two arms. You might have to run after the ball if it’s not coming directly to you - this is important in beach volleyball defense. Try to play it into your court so your partner can set you again.


Take The Next Step To Start Beach Volleyball Right

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