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Beach volleyball players spiking and blocking

Volleyball and beach volleyball: all the differences explained

Beach and indoor volleyball are played with the same ball? Do beach volleyball and volleyball courts have the same size? And what about net height? What is a fault in beach volleyball? You need to know all the differences and similarities between indoor and beach volleyball to play like a pro! 

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Even though volleyball and beach volleyball seem like similar practices, there are many differences between playing on the beach and indoor volleyball is played. Some may even go unnoticed by the most experienced eye, especially when indoor players try their hand at beach volleyball. Let’s hit the ball!

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Beach volleyball ball and net

Similarities between Beach Volleyball and Volleyball

Let’s begin with what is similar; to both indoor volleyball and beach volleyball:

  • The game is played with a ball
  • The game is played with a net, whose height is set to 2.24m for women and 2.43m for men, with two poles and antennas
  • A point is scored once the ball hits the ground with the same rules for indoor volleyball
  • The ball can be played with any part of the body
  • The game starts with a service during which stepping on the service line is considered a fault.
  • The fundamentals of the gestures to play beach volleyball are service, reception, set, block and defence.
  • They are both Olympic sports and their matches are followed by large audiences in many countries.

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Diving into the differences: Beach Volleyball vs. Indoor Volleyball

We will skip the most evident differences like the fact that beach volleyball is played by two players per team on sand courts instead of the taraflex of indoor volleyball courts to focus on less obvious aspects of the game.

The Ball

No, the ball is not the same and it is not a mere market approach, the two balls are different, outdoor balls need to be more resistant to water and sand but most importantly the inflation pressure is different: 0.3 bar for indoor balls and 0.2 bar for beach volleyball.

Beach volleyball ball
The Court

The beach volleyball court size is slightly smaller measuring 8m x 8m instead of the 9m x 9m for indoor volleyball courts. If you think about it 8m x 8m is still a big space to cover with only two players on the court!  Consequently, with a smaller court, the net will be slightly smaller as well.  

Beach volleyball
Scoring System

Beach volleyball is played at the best of two sets, meaning that after beach players win a set, the team must win a second one to avoid a tie-break and win the game. Each set is won at 21 points instead of the 25 of volleyball, usually making beach volleyball matches significantly shorter vs indoor games. Moreover, each 7 points the players exchange their side of the court to level up weather and wind conditions in addition to the regular exchange at the end of every set. 

Ball Touch

This is a crucial point to address because there are some touches that are not allowed in beach volleyball:

- Unlike in volleyball, in beach volleyball a block touch count as the first touch! Crazy right? This means that the team has only two more touches to complete the action.

- Attacking with an overhead pass, is it forbidden or not? This is a tricky question because players are allowed to do so only if the trajectory of the ball is perpendicular to the line of their shoulders. The only exception to this rule is made when a player is attempting to set for their teammate.

- Dips in beach volleyball are not allowed with a soft open-hand touch but only with a firm hand or knuckles touch.

Beach volleyball
Central Line Fault

In indoor volleyball, a central line fault is called anytime a player’s foot overpasses completely the central line. In beach volleyball, players are allowed to enter the opponents' space as long as they don’t interfere with their game and to be more precise, there’s no central line on beach volleyball courts!

Beach volleyball and volleyball: what is different?
Time Outs

Only one time-out call is allowed each set per team, against the two of indoor volleyball. The time-out must be called by one of the two players in the team as the coach is not sitting on the bench.

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Beach volleyball smash

Ball touch: where beach volleyball players win the game

This is a crucial point to address because some plays are not allowed in beach volleyball and usually volleyball players not that used to play on sand tend to forget to adapt their game. 

  • Unlike indoor volleyball, in beach volleyball, a block touch counts as the first touch! Crazy right? This means that beach volleyball teams have only two more chances to hit the ball and complete the action.
  • Attacking with an overhead pass, is it forbidden or not? This is a tricky question because players are allowed to send the ball over the net like that only if the trajectory of the ball is perpendicular to the line of their shoulders. The only exception to this rule is made when a player is attempting to set for their teammate. It is to be expected that some quarrels may arise during beach volleyball games!
  • Dips in beach volleyball are not allowed with a soft open-hand hit but only with a firm hand or knuckles touch.

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These are the macro rule differences between beach volleyball and volleyball, are you still that convinced they are so similar? 

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Even though beach volleyball and indoor volleyball might seem very similar because it is undeniable that the latter is derivative of the former, there are some, very peculiar rules making outdoor-sand games completely different from indoor games!