The basic skills of Beach Volleyball are the same as for
Volleyball, and the flow of play follows similar lines:
one team serves, the other tries to win the rally ‑ or
"side‑out" ‑ with a pattern of dig, set, spike within
the requisite three touches.
Having only two players on a team leads to differences in
offence and defence. There is more shot variety (with
half‑speed, finesse and placement shots); blockers take more
risks (deciding where to block and when to pull off the net
or back‑pedal to play defence); there is greater mobility in
the backcourt (players are not so bound by "positional"
convention ‑ they are free to move to all areas of the
court) and players need to be adept in all the basic
On the sand, there is no such thing as "calling subs" if
you're having a bad day. And there are no court‑side coaches
‑ players decide tactics during time‑outs. For Beach Volleyball, matches are a best of three sets using
the rally point system. The first two sets are played to 21
points, with the final tie‑breaker set being played to 15
points. A team must win a set by two points. There is no
ceiling, so a set continues until one of the teams gains a
- Because of the many difficulties of playing outdoors, such
as the sand, the sun and the wind, Beach Volleyball players
must have outstanding ball skills and court speed. Partners
must be well matched or opponents will win easy points by
exploiting the weaker player.
Click here to see the major rule changes in Beach Volleyball
over the years
RIGHTY OR LEFTY?
The entire 64 square metres of sand is shared by only two
players, so teams tend to divide the court evenly and
specialise in playing left or right. This gives greater
consistency in receiving serve and shot selection. It's also
easier to spike a ball that hasn't passed across the line of
your body, which is why left‑handers like to play right side
and vice versa.
FRONTCOURT OR BACKCOURT?
One player will often take care of all the frontcourt
blocking, while the better defender keeps to the backcourt
WAYS AND MEANS
All players at the elite level carry a "bag of tricks" to
help get them through every game. Teams that come out and
simply blast away at every ball soon find themselves worn
out in the sand and the heat, and quickly outsmarted by more
experienced players. This is why you'll see such a wide
range of shots.
‑ A served ball that lands within the playing boundaries,
which is untouched by the receiving team and scores a point.
‑ A served ball that a player on the receiving team cannot
handle or pass cleanly.
‑ A flexible rod placed vertically above the outer edge of
the sidelines to mark the outer limit of the crossing space.
Attack bit ‑ The action of directing the ball into
the opponents' court. Serving is not considered an attack
hit. Considered completed when the ball completely crosses
the vertical plane of the net or touches a block.
‑ The disturbance or movement of the sand created on the
court surface by the contact of the ball with the sand. This
mark may be checked to determine if the ball is "in" or
‑ A procedure initiated by the 1st referee for establishing
whether the ball has landed in or out of the court.
Between rallies ‑ The time between the whistle to end
the completion of a rally and the whistle to authorize the
service to start the next rally. Under normal circumstances
this is a maximum of 12 seconds.
‑ Is the action of player close to the net to intercept the
ball coming from the opponent by reaching higher than the
top of the net.
‑ Technique of playing ball using forearms, hands together,
to direct the ball.
‑ A forearm pass used as a set.
‑ A fault called if the ball comes to rest in the course of
contact by one player.
‑ Action by the referees where the team's captains choose
the team to serve and the starting side of the court of each
‑ A contacted ball is one that touches or is touched by any
part of a player's body or clothing.
‑ The playing surface divided into two equal areas by a net.
In its official form, Beach Volleyball is played on a
rectangular court 16 meters (52 feet, 5.921 inches) long and
8 meters (26 feet, 2.841 inches) wide.
Court lines (boundary lines)
‑ These lines delimit the playing area. They are adjustable
and made of resistant material, contrast in colour to the
sand and are 5‑8 centimetres wide. The ball must physically
contact the line to be considered as "in."
Court switches (side changes)
‑ The moment in which the teams change their sides of the
playing court. Occurs every 7 points (Sets 1 and 2) and
every 5 points (3rd Set).
‑ Most often refers to a backing up a partner's hit when the
block is up and the ball comes glancing back.
Cross‑court/cut shot ‑ An offensive hit in which a
player, instead of hitting with power, slices the ball just
over and nearly parallel to the net.
‑ The area above the net and inside the antennas (and their
imaginary extension upward) through which an attacked or
served ball must pass.
‑ Where a team is unable to commence the match legally with
its players. It forfeits the match and gains no points.
Diagonals (Long/Short) ‑ The distance diagonally across
the corners of the playing court (long diagonal 17,89
metres) or across from one corner to the corner immediately
under the net (short diagonal 11,31 metres).
‑ Ball brought up (saved) with any part of body,
particularly from a spike attempt.
‑ Ball played just over net or blocker's hands, instead of
spiking and is legal as long as it is not with open fingers.
‑ Two faults occurring at the same time. Results in a replay
(the same person serving again with no point scored).
External space ‑ The imaginary space outside the
antennas and also not below the bottom of the net between
the net poles. Not including the crossing and lower spaces.
Extension of sideline
‑ The imaginary line extended from the two sidelines in a
straight line from the corners until the edge of the free
‑ A serve that follows an uneven trajectory ("floats") over
‑ The illegal action of a player, who at the time of serving
or jumping to serve, has their foot under the line, has
their foot outside the extension of the sideline, or their
foot, contacts the playing court (line included).
‑ The area outside the playing court but inside the panels,
signage, etc., which delimits the outer edges of the free
Hard‑driven ball ‑ An attack hit that is
travelling with sufficient speed (quickly) and over distance
such that a defending player only has time to only play the
ball in a reflexive defensive manner. In such defensive
action the ball can be slightly held overhand with fingers.
‑ A ball that is clearly hit and does not come to rest upon
‑ When a player serves contrary to the service order
recorded on the score sheet and advice of the scorer. The
other team gains the right to serve and a point.
‑ Contact by a player with an opponent that did not have an
effect on that player's ability to complete a subsequent
play on the ball freely.
‑ When a team commences but is unable to legally complete a
match with its two players, Le: because of injury, the other
team would the gain the match.
Injury timeout (5‑minute recovery period)
‑ The time allowed for the player to recover from an injury.
‑ When a player through physical contact or threat of
contact prevents an opponent from a potential play on the
ball. It may be the next shot or a subsequent shot.
‑ A classic confrontation above the net where the two
opponent players simultaneously contact the ball, holding it
with open fingers.
‑ The action of a serving player, who at the time of the
service is not in contact with the ground. The action of
jumping must commence legally from within the service zone
but on landing may contact any part of the playing court or
‑ A huge one hand block used by Beach Volleyball legend
‑ Auxiliary officials responsible for assisting the referees
in determining faults esp. ball "in" "out" and "touched".
Either 2 or 4 people can be used, situated at corners of the
Lower space under net
‑ The area below the bottom of the net between the net
posts. It does not include the Crossing and External spaces.
‑ The format for FIVB competition is best of 3 sets, the
first 2 being played to 21 (with 2 point advantage) and the
3rd set to 15 (with a 2 point advantage), both with no
Momentarily overhand with fingers/beach dig/beach defence
‑ A playing action (receiving a ball) that may be legally
used if the ball is hard driven. Players are allowed legally
to hold or carry the ball overhand slightly longer than is
usually allowed. The hands must be held with fingers up,
Le.: not inverted to point downwards. Net ‑ Piece of
equipment that separates the opponent sides of the court,
placed vertically over the axis of the centre of the court,
made of small square meshes and hanging from two poles by
use of one cable at the top horizontal band and one rope at
the lower horizontal band.
Normal playing conditions
‑ Playing conditions which are free from external
interference from weather (e.g.: wind, rain). Generally
based on whether players can accurately hand set the ball.
‑ Right‑hand player, playing right side. The ball comes
across the body on a set to hit.
Offensive player (attacking player)
‑ The player(s) from the team who currently have committed
the last contact. The player(s) on the same side of the
court as the ball.
‑ Right hand player, playing left side. The ball is in front
of a player on a set to hit.
Out of bounds
‑ The ball is out of bounds when it touches any surface,
object or ground outside the court.
Overhand finger action
‑ The playing action of setting the ball or passing the ball
with 2 hands fingers spread, contacting the ball. It is not
legal to carry the ball with underhand finger action (i.e.:
‑ A ball that travels in a straight line from the player's
shoulders either forwards or backwards. The player's
position at the time of the contact determines the
trajectory the ball should legally follow in the case the
player completes an attack‑hit using an overhand pass.
‑ The act of putting the ball in play again without awarding
‑ If the serving team sends a ball that is not returned or
lands in the receiving team's court, a point is then awarded
to the serving team. If the receiving team returns a ball
that is not returned or lands in the serving team's court, a
point is an awarded to the receiving team.
‑ The formal process under the control of the Delegate(s) in
which the validity of a team's protest is considered. This
may occur before, during or after a match.
‑ The time from the end of the previous match to the
commencement of the next match.
‑ The time that the ball is legally in play, from the
contact with the ball by the server, to the time of a fault
by either team or when the ball hits the ground.
Replay (Tie ball replay)
‑ When the referee authorizes a service to be made again
with no point or side out being made to either team. This
could be as a result of simultaneous fault, incorrect
decision or external interference.
‑ Legal technique using rigid, closed fingers in an overhead
single hand action to complete an attack hit. Usually
travels a short distance into the opponent's court.
Roof block (stuff block)
‑ Block that puts the ball straight down on the side of the
Rubber booties/ sand‑shoes/ socks
‑ Personal player's equipment for protection of their feet.
Usually used if sand is too hot/cold or player is injured.
Requires the referee's permission before use.
‑ All players must know and abide by the "Rules of the
‑ The material composing the court surface. Must be flat,
uniform, and safe for participants and at least 40
centimetres in depth.
‑ The device, which secures the lines, by use of a cord, to
the court, surface (50 centimetres below the ground
minimum). Material must be soft and flexible.
‑ The action of preventing the player(s) receiving serve
from having a clear and unobstructed view of the serving
player. A screen is illegal and a screening player must move
if requested to move.
‑ An attempt by a player to conceal the start of a
teammate's serve by obstructing an opponent's line of sight.
Screening is illegal.
‑ The act of putting the ball into play by a player who hits
the ball with her hand or arm.
‑ The order in which players can legally serve. Recorded on
the score sheet after the coin toss has been made (1st and
3rd set) or before the start of the set (2nd set). Must be
maintained throughout the set.
‑ The area in which the player serves the ball. Bounded by
the base (back line), the extension of the two sidelines and
the outside of the free zone (usually delimited by panels).
‑ Two‑handed set shot used as dink or deep placement shot.
‑ Two colour bands, 5‑8 cm wide (same width as the court
lines) and 1‑metre long, are fastened vertically to the net
and placed above each sideline. They are considered part of
‑ Should the team that receives the service win the rally
they have scored a sideout and they win the right to now
Simultaneous contact ‑ Contact of the ball
made by two players at the same instant. If made by two
opponents over the net and the ball remains held for a
certain period of time, this is called a joust.
Six pack (facial)
‑ Refers to a player who was hit directly in the face by the
Sizzling the pits
‑ A spike that sneaks by the blocker's armpits.
‑ A very high serve in its trajectory which is used to gain
advantage from wind, sun.
‑ The play action of jumping and striking the ball with one
hand as an attack hit.
‑ A ball (other than a served ball) hit forcibly from a
height not less than the top of the net. Also known as bury,
crush, hammer, kill, put away or slam.
‑ An official 30‑second interruption to the match that
occurs in sets 1 and 2 when the sum of both teams' points is
Three hits per side
‑ A team may contact the ball no more than three times
before sending the ball over the net and into contact with
either an opponent or his/her court. Successive hits or
contacts by the same player are illegal unless the player
blocks at the net.
‑ When the ball is dead, a player may request a timeout.
Each team will be allowed one, 30second timeout per set per
team. Each timeout must be approved by the officials.
‑ Illegal technique using open fingers (spread fingertips)
to complete an attack hit.
‑ The action of releasing the ball from the player's hands
in the service zone with the intention of hitting a service.
Warm‑up period (Official warm up)
‑ The time before the match officially allocated for teams
to prepare on the court for the match. Commences at the
whistle (signal) of the ist referee after the signing of the
‑ The attacking hit that deflects off the block of the
‑ Weather condition. Strength should be low enough to enable
normal playing conditions.