PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Team Sports: Beach Volleyball

The sun is shining, the ocean waves are rolling in, and your feet are sinking in the warm sand. You and your partner are facing a big net, and two people are on the other side waiting for you to start serving.

Are you:

  • A fisherman hauling in a big catch of tuna?
  • A waiter at a Hawaiian seafood buffet?
  • A competitor on the professional sun tanning tour?

NO! You're involved in the cool sport known as beach volleyball!

Beach volleyball is a sport that evolved from regular team volleyball, and like the indoor sport, it's all about teams serving and returning a lightweight ball over a tall net. There are a few important differences:

  • Beach volleyball is played outdoors in the sand, instead of in a gymnasium. This usually means at the ocean or a lake, but the game can also be played in a big pit of sand that's been trucked in from somewhere, or an indoor arena that's been filled with sand.

  • Beach volleyball teams are usually small, and are most commonly made up of just two people.

Beach volleyball requires speed, agility, and great hand-eye coordination. The game can be very fast and furious, and cooperation and communication between teammates is the key. The best two-person teams can react like they have a single mind, which requires a good deal of trust. If the players on a team can't work as a coordinated unit, it's nearly impossible to do well at the game.

Part of the fun of beach volleyball is being out in the sunshine and fresh air. It's the perfect team sport for people who love the beach but get bored just lying on a towel all day!

Beach Volleyball Basics:

  • Like in tennis, table tennis, and racquetball, a beach volleyball team can only score points when that team is serving. When a team isn't serving, it's trying to win back the serve.

  • Once the ball is served over the net, the receiving team must get it back over the net in three touches or fewer.

  • When returning a serve, one player on the team usually sets the ball, meaning that she or he gets the ball under control and puts it in a place where her or his teammate can easily hit it over the net.

  • The player's teammate can then spike the ball, which means hitting it over the net with great strength, and hopefully placing it somewhere where the other team can't get to it before it hits the sand.

Cool Beach Volleyball Facts:

  • Historians believe that the very first beach volleyball games were played in Santa Monica, California in the 1920s.

  • Beach volleyball really started to catch on in the 1960s, when tournaments were held in California and Europe, and when official organizations were created to promote the sport.

  • Two-player beach volleyball became an Olympic medal sport in 1993.

  • Serious injuries are rare in beach volleyball, because the soft cushion of sand protects players.

  • Volleyball (beach and indoor) is the second most popular team sport in the world!

What Kids Are Saying About Beach Volleyball:

"I play beach volleyball every year at summer camp. It's fun diving in the sand after the ball because you don't get hurt."
--Molly, 12

"I live right by the beach and I always see people playing volleyball and it looks like fun. My sport is baseball but I want to try volleyball this summer."
--Keith, 10

"I've played volleyball for my school's team for two years and it is the best. I love my teammates because we are like sisters."
--Lindsay, 13

Get Involved!

Here's how to get involved with beach volleyball:

  • If your school has an indoor volleyball team, ask the players or coach if they know of any beach teams in the area. If your school is near an ocean or a sandy lake, you might try to organize a beach volleyball club or team with the help of a coach or teacher.

  • For more information, surf to Web sites like Beach Volleyball America's www.bvatour.com.

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