• Introduction
  • The object of the game
  • Scoring in beach volleyball
  • Serving rules in beach volleyball
  • Gameplay
  • Referees
  • Game time & intervals
  • The beach volleyball court
  • Rules and regulations of beach volleyball equipment
  • Other rules of beach volleyball
  • Sources

Scoring in volleyball

  • Points: A point is scored if the opposing team is unable to return the ball to the other side of the court within three touches.
  • Set: The team that first scores 21pts with at least a two-point lead wins a set. The last set is played to 15pts.
  • Match: A match consists of the best 3 sets. 

Serving rules

  • The serving player has one attempt at a successful serve.
  • Both feet must be behind the back line of the court during a serve. 
  • Both underhand and overhand serves are allowed. 

Gameplay

  • Played in a 2 vs 2 format.
  • Maximum three touches per side.
  • Same player cannot touch the ball twice in a row (unless the ball hits the net after blocking).
  • The ball may be played off the net on a serve or a volley.
  • A ball touching the line is considered in. 
  • A player may touch the ball with any body part.
  • A player may not touch the net or step on the other team’s side. 

Game times and intervals

  • There is a 60s break between each set.
  • During the first two sets, teams switch sides after every 7pts.
  • During the 3rd set, teams switch sides after every 5pts.
  • Teams switch sides after every set.
  • 30s technical timeouts are called every time the sum of points scored is 21pts. 
  • Teams are allowed one 30s timeout per set.

Introduction

Beach volleyball is likely to have originated from Waikiki Beach, Hawaii in 1915. Only a few years later, the first official beach volleyball courts appeared, along with the first inter-club competitions. The first rules of volleyball were very similar to indoor volleyball, with two six-player teams. 

The first modern rules of beach volleyball were invented by Paul ”Pablo” Johnson of the Santa Monica Athletic Club while he was waiting for his team to arrive. With only two players present, he decided to play a 2 vs 2 match instead. Thus, giving birth to a whole new sport.

The game quickly gained a huge following all over the United States and around the world. The first Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) sanctioned tournament was held in Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro in 1987. 

Nowadays, beach volleyball is played by millions of active ballsport enthusiasts around the world. Its biggest events include the Beach Volleyball World Championships and the Beach Volleyball World Tour. The game has also been a staple in the Summer Olympics since 1996. 

The object of the game

The object of beach volleyball is to try to ground the ball into the other team’s side of the court within three touches. Naturally, your opponents have the same goal as they try to land the ball on your side of the court. 

Scoring in beach volleyball

A beach volleyball match consists of the best of three sets. The first two sets are played to 21 points, whereas the possible last set will be played to 15 points. Each set must be won with at least a two-point advantage. 

Beach volleyball also follows a point-a-rally (PAR) system, meaning that the winner of each rally scores one point and gains the right to serve. 

Serving rules in beach volleyball

Each player has one attempt at a successful serve. A legal serve must be performed behind the back line from the service zone. Both underhand and overhand serves are allowed. 

The same player continues serving until their team loses a point. On the other hand, the receiving team gains the right to serve after winning a rally from the other team’s serve. Players also alternate serving after every turn but do not need to rotate after winning the other team’s serve. Thus, players may change position whenever they want. 

In beach volleyball, the receiving player may not use fingers when receiving a serve. This rule was made to prevent immediate attacking plays from the receiving team, which made the game more predictable. 

Gameplay

Official beach volleyball games are always played in a 2 vs 2 format. After a successful serve, a rally begins and continues until either team scores a point. Each team has three touches to return the ball to the other team, and players may not touch the ball twice in a row (except after a successful block). Unlike in indoor volleyball, in beach volleyball, blocks are also considered touches.

The serving team scores when they are able to land the ball into the other team’s side of the court or the receiving team commits a fault. These faults include striking the ball out of bounds and touching or reaching over the net. Crossing below the net is considered a fault only if it interferes with the other team’s gameplay.

The receiving team scores a point if the serving team fails to serve, or return the ball into your side of the court. The receiving team also gets the right to serve after winning a point from the other team’s serve. 

In beach volleyball, players do not have set positions. This means that players may move freely on their side of the court. Another important thing to note is that balls touching the boundary lines are considered ”in”. The ball may also touch the net during a serve or during gameplay, as long as it lands on the other team’s side of the court. 

Referees

The rules of beach volleyball are overseen by a team of officials, including the 1st referee, 2nd referee, scorer, assistant scorer, and two line judges. The first referee makes sure the game is being played according to the official rules of the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB). The first referee is also the highest authority during a match and may overrule the other officials’ decisions. 

The second referee works as an assistant for the first referee and is responsible for managing the court, keeping time, and communicating with the scorers during timeouts and substitutions. The scorers, on the other hand, are responsible for keeping track of the score. There are also two line judges standing at the corners of the court. Their responsibility is to make decisions regarding ”in” and ”out” balls, and touches of ”out” balls. Line judges also keep track of the server’s foot faults.

Game time & intervals

There is a 60s break between each set of the game. After the break, teams also switch sides. During the first two sets, teams switch sides after every 7 points. On the 3rd set, teams switch after every 5 points. After switching sides, teams must resume gameplay without delay.

Teams are allowed one 30s time-out during each set. In official FIVB games, teams also have two technical timeouts during the 1st and 2nd sets when the sum of points scored reaches 21 points. 

In case of an injury, each player is given a maximum of 5 minutes of recovery time once per match. If the player is unable to continue, their team is declared incomplete, and the team is forced to forfeit the match. 

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In beach volleyball, blocks count as touches.

The beach volleyball court

A beach volleyball court is 16m (52.5ft) long and 8m (26.2ft) wide, surrounded by a 5-6m (16.4-19.7ft) free zone. Each boundary line is made from 5cm (2in) wide flexible ribbon. It is also made in a color which contrasts the color of the sand. There is no center line.

According to the official rules of the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), the court must also have at least a 12.5m (41ft) clearance above the playing surface. On the other hand, the surface must be at least 40cm (15.7in) deep and consist of fine sand. 

The net is 8.5m (27.9ft) long and 1m (3.3ft) wide. It is composed of 10cm (4in) square mesh with two 7-10cm (2.8-3.9in) horizontal bands on the top and bottom. There are also two 1.8m (5.9ft) fiberglass antennae with 10mm (0.4in) diameter on both ends of the net. 

The net height for women’s competitions is 2.24m (7.3ft) and 2.43m (8ft) for men’s competitions. 

Rules and regulations of beach volleyball equipment

Aside from a beach volleyball court, athletic shorts or a bathing suit, the game only requires an official ball. 

The ball is spherical in shape and made from natural leather or flexible synthetic material. The ball has a water-resistant cover with a rubber bladder inside. A regulation ball has a circumference of 66-68 cm (29-26.8in) and a weight of 260-280g (9.2-9.9oz). The inside pressure of the ball must be 0.175-0.225 kg/cm2 (171-221mbar or hPa). 

Sunglasses and sunscreen are also essential for both optimal and safe performance on the court. 

Other rules of beach volleyball

In addition to the regular rules of beach volleyball, the game also follows several rules regarding sportsmanlike conduct. This means that all participants must act according to the FIVB fair play rules. For example, players must accept the referee’s decisions without disputing them, and refrain from aggressive behavior or verbal frustration. 

If these fair play rules are violated, the referee may issue a verbal warning, or even a yellow card. If the player continues to behave contrary to good manners or moral principles, the referee may also issue a penalty to the player. A penalty awards the other team with a point and the right to serve. In severe cases, a player can also be expelled or the whole team disqualified. 

Did you learn anything new about the rules of beach volleyball? Let us know in the comments.

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