For years, beach volleyball has been less than respected in sporting circles.
Maybe it was the too-cool sunglasses, or the barely covered bronzed bodies.
Times have changed. Beach volleyball has come of age as a serious sport that's
The biggest milestone was the Olympic debut of beach volleyball at the
1996 summer games in Atlanta. The United States took gold and silver.
The event showed a global television audience how the beach has put a new
spin on volleyball.
Beach tournaments with prize money for top competitors have become common.
And the game has become increasingly popular. A survey by the Sporting Goods
Manufacturers Association says that 37.7 million Americans play volleyball.
That figure would include beach volleyball players.
Beach volleyball is played on sand during the summer, and played on indoor
sand courts in the winter. The indoor sand court is the same size as the six-person
Matches go 15 points, requiring two points to win with a 17-point cap.
Any part of the body may be used -- even feet. Both Brazil and the U.S. claim
they invented the beach game. Beach volleyball attracts men and women equally
-- about 45 percent of players are women.
Each beach volleyball team has two players on the court. There are no substitutions
allowed -- unlike the six-player indoor teams. Pro volleyball player Lisa
Cepeliauskas says, beach volleyball demands players who can do everything
-- serve, set, dig, hit -- while indoor players tend to be more specialized.
"The all-around good players tend to end up outdoors," she says.
Beach volleyball doesn't cost much to play. "You don't need shoes," says
Dale Hoffman of the California Beach Volleyball Association. Swim trunks,
sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen and bottled water are all you need to join the
You may want to buy your own ball. Donn Young moderates a frequently asked
question list about volleyball on the Internet. "The ball abhors water, so
if you're playing near the ocean or pool, where it might get dunked, you may
want to think about one with a synthetic cover." A good ball won't cost you
more than $50. You can buy a net and poles for $250.
The game isn't without its risks -- shifting sand can easily turn an ankle.
Player Jim Helmke says the game is easier on the joints than indoor volleyball.
He hasn't suffered any injuries except for some bruises when he ran into a
teammate. "It was my fault," he explains. "You're supposed to call the ball!"
Top players have six-figure career earnings. A word of warning though --
you have to be good to make money. Tim Simmons, information officer for the
Women's Professional Volleyball Association, says only those ranked near the
top 10 make any money.
Dale Hoffman works as a tournament organizer for the California Beach Volleyball
Association. It's a paid position that combines marketing and beach volleyball.
Beach volleyball can also help you find work in a sporting goods store or
as a recreational sports director.
Association of Volleyball Professionals
National organization for volleyball players in the United States
Beach Volleyball Database
A searchable database of articles, news and current event listings
Buy volleyball equipment, apparel and more