Summer is virtually upon us again and as the warm weather rolls in, the sudden urge for sand and sea drives families and friends in their thousands to the costal waters to spend the day at the beach. Instead of just sitting on your towel until the last rays of sunshine disappear into the sea, why not have some fun playing the (rapidly growing in popularity) sport of beach volleyball. (Hint: you’ll possibly get a better all-over tan by moving around in the sun instead of lying in one position all day!)
Now an Olympic sport, beach volleyball is played on a beach, or a sand court with teams of two players on each side of a net. It’s a great workout and very social. As with indoor volleyball, the object of the game is to serve the volleyball over the net, and get it to land on the ground, without a member of the other team being able to hit it back to your team’s side of the net.
Moving around and jumping on a sand court is much more difficult than playing on an indoor court because of the constant resistance caused by the sand giving way underfoot. You'll be slower, you'll tire faster and how high you can jump will be reduced significantly…perhaps to just a few millimetres by the end of your first game!
Consequently, beach volleyball is a more intense workout, even at family fun level. Beach volleyball is great at strengthening your legs because you have to develop a stronger jump and quicker burst to contend with and counter the sand’s resistance. The good news is sand is a low impact surface, so it is easy on your joints; making it fun for all the generations without risking injury.
Beach volleyball is played barefoot, which can become uncomfortable when the sand gets hot. To overcome this a good tip is to dig your feet a few inches under the top layer to cool them off. Obviously, it is important to make sure you stay well hydrated, so remember to drink lots of water throughout your game, and to rehydrate afterwards.
If you are a regular volleyball player, a game or two of beach volleyball can improve your techniques. In beach volleyball a player has to be an all rounder to be successful. That is, they have to be able to pass, set, hit, serve, and play defence. This forces you to develop your weaker skills.
Beach volleyball also requires players to cover more of the court to receive a serve or position for defence. This teaches players to read the hitter and to control where they place the ball.
To get started with beach volleyball you are going to need a net and a ball. If you don’t want to take a net with you, you can check to see if any of your local beaches have permanent nets. Beach volleyballs are bigger, softer and lighter than indoor balls, so don't make the mistake of taking the indoor ball to the beach as it will be much harder to play with on the sand.
The rules of beach volleyball are different from the indoor game. For starters there are only two players per team. Matches consist of three sets or games and the winner of the set is the first team to reach 21 points. The usual two clear points rule applies. Two sets wins the match and if there is a third tiebreaker set, it is only played to 15 points. Service alternates between partners and the teams switch sides very seven points. Three touches are allowed per side before the ball has to clear the net.
But on holiday playing at hotel resorts, or with your family, don’t worry too much about just two players on each side – there are often four, five or six players on each side so that everyone can take part. And that is where the fun really begins – lots of laughs and banter, lots of communication, lots more rallies as it is harder to find open areas of court to place the ball…and lots of movements and exercise too.
So there you have it. Beach volleyball is lots of fun, played in attractive locations, is less strenuous on the body and improves your physical conditioning. What’s your excuse for not playing?!