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Regular Volleyball vs. Beach Volleyball: 11 Differences (Rules, Scoring,…)

Regular volleyball and beach volleyball have some similarities, but there are a few differences that you should consider. Then, you can choose which version of volleyball you want to play. And if you like both, you can think about which type is better for certain events.

The differences between regular volleyball and beach volleyball include the number of players, the ball size, and the court size. Each sport uses different scoring systems, and the different environments require different playing attire. 

If you’ve started playing volleyball, you might have started with regular volleyball by playing inside. But if it’s a nice day, you can also play beach volleyball. Before you do, consider how the two sports differ.

1. The Number of Players

One of the biggest differences between regular and beach volleyball is how many players are involved. In regular volleyball, you have six players, and each of them has a specialization. The outside hitter is on the left and is an offensive player that should be able to jump.

An opposite hitter is on the right side, and the player should be good at both offense and defense. The setter helps lead the offense for the team, and they set the ball for someone else to hit over the net. A middle blocker/hitter tends to be tall, and they help block incoming attacks.

The libero player is usually in the back, and they focus on serving the ball, but they can also attack. Finally, a defensive specialist is similar to a libero, but they can play any of the six spots on the court.

However, in beach volleyball, you typically have two to four players per side. The players don’t focus on any one position, so you’ll need to be good at offense and defense to succeed in beach volleyball.

2. Ball Size and Material

Another difference between beach and indoor volleyball is the size and material of the ball. Inside, you tend to have the same playing conditions, so you don’t need to worry about that when playing a match. But when you take the game outdoors, you don’t have that much control. Because of that, you need a different type of ball for a different environment.

An adult volleyball for indoor play has a circumference of about 25.5 to 26.5 inches (65 to 67 centimeters). Meanwhile, a beach volleyball is slightly bigger, with a circumference of 26 to 27 inches (66 to 68 centimeters). The difference may not seem like much, but it’s essential when playing volleyball outside.

3. Court Size and Setup

While a beach volleyball is bigger than a regular one, the opposite is true when it comes to the courts. A beach volleyball court is about 52.5 feet (16 meters) by 26.2 feet (8 meters). However, a regular volleyball court measures 59 feet (18 meters) by 29.5 feet (9 meters).

And since the two sports have a different number of players, the setup of the court is different. In regular volleyball, players typically stay within their spot or around it. But with fewer players in beach volleyball, players tend to move around more, so there isn’t a standard setup to maintain throughout a match.

4. Scoring 

A volleyball match comprises five games, which are called sets. Each set goes until one team scores 25 points, and the match consists of up to five sets. A team needs to win three sets to win the match, and if there’s a tie after the fourth, the last set will only require 15 points.

However, a beach volleyball match only has three sets, and the sets only go to 21 points. But like with regular volleyball, the third match will only go until a team scores 15 points.

5. What to Wear

When you play beach volleyball, you have to prepare for whatever can happen to the weather. It may be sunny and hot, it may rain, or the weather may change half-way through the day. You have to account for that by wearing stuff to stay cool.

But inside, volleyball players usually wear volleyball shorts, and you can wear a top that fits regulations. Consider what your league or team requires when dressing for a match.

6. The Climate

Regular volleyball has the benefit of a climate-controlled playing space. You can expect the environment to be the same from practice to practice and match to match. But when you take your playing outside, you may not know what will happen.

That’s why it’s important to prepare for what can happen when you get dressed for a match. You should also bring enough water and sunscreen so that you can stay comfortable.

7. The Flooring or Ground

Another difference to consider is what you’ll be playing on. Not only do the courts differ in size, but playing on sand can be shocking after you’re used to the flooring of an indoor court. You may not have as much traction in the sand as you do on a court, so you should practice outside as much as you can.

Also, the sand may feel different on different beaches, so you should be able to adapt to different beach volleyball courts.

8. Rules of Play

Both types of volleyball allow you three “touches” before you have to send the ball to the other side of the net. In indoor volleyball, you can block the ball, and it won’t count as a touch. But in beach volleyball, if you block, you’ll only have two additional chances to get the volleyball back to the other side.

9. Approved Hand Positions

When playing beach volleyball, you may not be able to use the same hand positions as indoors. If you play outside with two, three, or four people per side, you can’t use open hand tips or dinks. However, you can use your palm or the heel of your hand, and you can also hit the ball with the back of your hand.

Make sure you review the approved hand positions before you play a match. If possible, practice ahead of time so that you don’t accidentally use something that you can’t.

10. Crossing the Line

The centerline is another difference to note, especially if you’re switching from beach to regular volleyball. In beach volleyball, you don’t have to worry about crossing a centerline. As long as you aren’t in the other team’s way, you can go under the net if you need to.

But in indoor volleyball, you can’t cross the centerline, and back-row players have to stay back even further.

11. When to Switch Sides

You should also consider when you’ll need to switch to the other side of the court. In regular volleyball, teams usually switch after a set. But because of factors like the sun and shade, beach volleyball requires teams to switch sides after every five points.

That can keep the game fairer, especially if the weather isn’t great or if one side of the court faces the sun. It may not be a huge difference, but it’s one that players and referees should know.

In Short

Regular volleyball is an excellent team sport to play, but there are a lot of restrictions on where to stand and how to hit the ball. Beach volleyball has its fair share of rules, and the changing environment can be a nice challenge. Before you switch from one version of volleyball to the other, you should know the essential differences so that you can make the switch effortlessly.