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Beach Volleyball – Difficulty Underneath Glamour

by David Chan

Beach volleyball can seem like an easy and glamorous version of the sport from an outsider’s perspective. After all, the settings are beautiful and perfect for vacations. Before and after games, players can sip fruit shakes by the beach while perfecting their tan. While the venues truly are gorgeous, beach volleyball is actually considered by many as the more difficult sport because of the challenges imposed by the environment, the fewer number of players, and the different rules of the game. Upon closer inspection, we begin to appreciate the demands on the athletes and realize the respect that they deserve.

The Basics

The sand court measures 8 meters by 16 meters which is slightly smaller than for indoor games. This must have a clearance of 3 meters on all sides. There is no attack line as players can run all over the court and attack where they wish. After all, there are only two working per side. The net height is the same as in indoor game heights. Each side is allowed three touches before sending the ball over. A beach volleyball must be water resistant. The pressure range is lower compared to indoor balls. Sets are won when a team reaches 21 points with at least a 2-point advantage.

All-around Players

Indoor volleyball requires six players on the court per team. Each person is assigned to cover a smaller area because they can depend on their teammates to take care of the rest. In beach volleyball, there are only two players on the court. There can be no substitutions so both must be extremely fit to last the whole game. They can both spike, set, block, dig, and receive. Although some teams designate roles, it is crucial for the athletes to be all-around players who can score and defend when needed. They are certain to touch the ball in every rally so they have to be ready and able.

Factor the Weather

The weather and the environment play a big role in every game. Since this is an outdoor game, the wind can blow the ball in different directions and alter its trajectory. This can make services difficult to nail. You need to work with the wind to get it to fall inside the court. When it’s hot outside, the sand can get scorching underfoot. Players sweat profusely. It is easier to get tired and dehydrated. Some even get lightheaded by the last set. Drinking electrolytes is crucial to maintain balance. When it’s raining, the referees may let the play continue if it’s just a light drizzle. They will stop if there’s heavy rain or thunderstorms.

A Game of Smarts

Due to the physical demands of beach volleyball, it is not uncommon for players to conserve their strength and only pounce when needed. Many will try to kill the ball through clever placements near the lines instead of trying to hammer the ball at or near a defender. This is certainly true for services. This can be risky because it could result in an easy point or a costly error. The same is true when it comes to blocking. Spikers evade by tipping the ball to the side instead of trying to break the block through sheer power.

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