How to Play Beach Volleyball

Discover how to play beach volleyball and tips to play smarter and have an edge over the competition.

When learning how to play volleyball on the beach, first think about what your goals are.

The Basics

Games are called "sets". To win a set, you have to be the first to score 21 points (win by two). Often teams will play matches. Matches consist of playing "best 2 out of 3". This means that if you split the first 2 sets, then the match goes to a 3rd deciding set to 15 points. 

So, to win a set you need to score 21 points. And to score a point you need to win a rally. There are many ways a team can win a rally.

  • The ball landing on the opponent side of the court (in bounds).
  • Ball hit by your opponent and landing out of bounds on your side of the court.
  • Ball going off the opponent and out of bounds on their side of the court. 
  • Referee calling a fault on the opponent (net fault, ball handing fault, rotational fault, etc)
  • Referee issuing a sanction to the opponent (red card)




Start of the Rally to Scoring a Point

Before you learn how to play beach volleyball, you need to understand that in beach doubles, each team consists of two players. And there are no subs. Teams alternate serving and must stay in the correct serving order. If there isn't a referee, then the teams must keep track of the score and serving order.

Ball in Play

To start the set, the first server says the score out loud (if there isn't a visible scoreboard) and serves the ball. The teams then play out the point. The team that wins the rally is awarded a point (point added to the previous score total). 

Before each serve, the player serving should say the score (if there isn't a visible scoreboard). This helps teams keep track of the score and keeps all the players on the same page. If the score is said incorrectly, the score is corrected before the next serve. Each time a team is receiving and ends up winning the rally, the receiving team should rotate servers.

Attacking at the Net for an Opportunity to Score


Strategy for How to Play Beach Volleyball

Doubles strategy is much different than 6 on 6 strategy.

In doubles, passing to the net is critical. Passing is an important part of the game because the better you are at passing the ball to the net, the easier it will be to hit. The more opportunities you get to hit near the net, the more likely you are to get a kill (score by attacking). 

Getting a kill by spiking when playing sixes is more difficult because there are so many players on the court that have an opportunity to prevent the ball from hitting the floor.

In doubles, at most you'll be attacking against one blocker and one defender. Or there's no blocker and two defenders back defending. So the chances of scoring a point by attacking is much greater in the doubles game vs the sixes game. 

This is why getting your partner a set to the net is so critical. 

Get a pass to the net so your partner can give you a set to the net.

This is the key

A ball set from near the net is much easier to hit than a ball that is set from far off the net. 


Most Important Thing - How to Play Beach Volleyball

Most teams make this mistake. If you're new to playing doubles, the first thing you need to understand is...

  • After your partner passes the ball, you need to get to the net to set. And it's important to start moving towards the net as soon as you realize your partner is taking the ball. If you wait too long, your partner won't pass to the net because they will see you off the net in the serve receive area. This can be a huge problem because if you don't ever transition to the net to set, then your partner will likely pass the ball off then net. This ends up being what you and your partner do all the time...pass off the net, set from off the net, then struggle at attacking. Getting the ball to the net is the most important concept to understand when creating your "how to play beach volleyball" game plan.
  • The main goal is to attack at the net. Every team should be working towards this goal. You may be thinking, "my team doesn't attack very well, but we do serve really good." Well, if your team is great at serving, then that's great. Great serves lead to easier plays on defense. The goal for defense is to get the ball to the net so your partner can set you from near the net.



How to Get to More Balls & Make Great Plays



Beach vs Indoor - How to Play Beach Volleyball

Beach volleyball is different than indoor in that there are different variables to deal with such as the sunlight, wind, rain and other weather issues.

The playing surface is also different in that moving around on sand challenges your speed. Uneven surfaces is challenging to stability and getting in good position to make the play. 

Being successful is all about getting in the correction position to play the ball.

And there's different types of sand. Some sand is quicker, meaning, easier to run on top of the sand and not sink when stepping. While other sand may slow players down and make it more difficult to move quickly. 

Deeper sand not only slows you down, but it's also more difficult to be explosive. This challenges not only speed, but also the ability to jump high. 

Often players will benefit from the sand because the sand helps players plant their feet at different angles. This helps with getting low to pass and dig.

Advantages to Beach Training

When transitioning back to a hard playing surface such as hardwood or sport court, players will often feel like they are moving really fast and don't get tired as quickly as when moving in the sand. 


How to Play Beach Volleyball Related Pages

Beach Setting Tips
Beach volleyball setting skills and tips for setting on the beach. Learn the difference between indoor and sand...

How to Spike on the Beach
Beach volleyball spike techniques and tips for success on the beach. Beginner hitting drills and keys to attacking...

Beach Serving Tips
Beach volleyball serve tips and strategies for serving in sand volleyball. Tactics and also sun, wind, rain effect...


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