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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 official Olympic debut at the Atlanta 1996 Games after  first appearing as a demonstration sport at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Brazil and the USA have achieved considerable success in the sport at the Games, winning a combined 24 medals (including 10 golds) out of a possible 42. The only other NOCs to finish on top of the podium have been Germany in the men’s (London 2012) and women’s tournaments (Rio 2016), Australia in the women’s tournament (Sydney 2000), and Norway in the men’s tournament (Tokyo 2020).

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 Volleyball Federation (FIVB)

© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

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