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Beach volleyball

A variation of volleyball played on sand first appeared on beaches in Santa Monica, California. The first beach volleyball tournament took place in 1947 and the first circuit was launched in the 1950s, involving hundreds of players on Californian beaches. The first professional players’ union was established in the 1980s and the first international tournament sanctioned by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) was held in 1987.

Brief overview of the rules

Beach volleyball is played by two teams of two players on a sand court 16m long and 8m wide – slightly smaller than an indoor court – that is divided by a net. Beach volleyball uses the same net height as indoor volleyball – 2.24m for women and 2.43m for men.

The first team to win two sets wins the match. The first two sets are played to 21 points and the third set, if necessary, is played to 15 points. As there are only two players per team, players have a lot more ground to cover, which means they need lightning-fast reflexes. Beach volleyball matches are played outdoors, where wind, sun and rain can affect playing conditions; players therefore need to be very versatile.

Olympic history

Beach volleyball made its Olympic debut at the Atlanta 1996 Games. It is dominated by Brazil, who have won three gold medals, and the United States, who have won six gold medals, out of the 12 awarded. The only countries to break their winning streak were Australia in the women’s tournament in 2000, Germany in the men’s and the women’s tournaments in 2016, and Norway in the men’s tournament in 2021.

Events in 2024

Paris 2024’s beach volleyball events will take place between the 27th of July and the 10th of August.

  • Beach volleyball tournament (women’s / men’s)

Venue in 2024

International organisation

International federation : International Volleyball Federation (FIVB)

© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

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