The Differences Between Volleyball and Beach Volleyball

Volleyball and beach volleyball might seem really similar, but they actually have far more differences than similarities. Read on to find out more!
The Differences Between Volleyball and Beach Volleyball

Last update: 02 February, 2021

At a simple glance, it’s easy to see that one is played by twelve players on a court and the other is played by four players on the beach. But these aren’t the only differences between volleyball and beach volleyball. They’re really not as similar as you might think.

Some people even go so far as to say that they’re completely different sports. Below, we look at the main differences between these two exciting sports.

What are the main differences between volleyball and beach volleyball

Whilst these two sports have the same objective and have some similar rules, there are many differences.

1. Their origins

The indoor version of the game was first created in 1895 by a teacher at the YMCA, the same association that had invented basketball just four years earlier. Beach volleyball, on the other hand, seems to have been first played in Uruguay in 1914 and then in California a year later. Brazil also claims to have invented the sport, and in fact, organized the first beach volleyball championship in 1941.

2. Playing surface

Obviously, the two sports are played on different surfaces: one on a court and the other on the beach.

People playing beach volleyball.

3. Size of the playing area

Beach volleyball is played on a playing area measuring 16 meters by 8 meters (a bit smaller than 18 yards by 9 yards). Indoor volleyball, on the other hand, is played on a court which is slightly larger, 18 meters long by 9  meters wide (almost 19 x 10 yards).

Furthermore, in beach volleyball, there’s just a single line in the middle where the net is. In indoor volleyball, there are additional lines three meters (about 3 yards) from the net known as the attack lines.

4. Teams

In indoor volleyball, there are six players on each team, and they can be substituted during the game. In beach volleyball, there are only two players on each team and there are no substitutes.

If one of the players gets injured, they can receive up to five minutes of medical treatment. If they can’t play after that, the game is forfeit.

5. The ball

This is probably one of the differences that most people are least aware of. The ball might look the same in both sports, but it isn’t. Beach volleyballs absorb the humidity and are normally bright colors, whilst indoor volleyballs are light colors.

An indoor volleyball match.

6. Scoring system

This is another key difference. Indoor, the game is played over five sets, and the first four are each played until a team reaches 25 points. The first team to win three sets wins the match.

If each team wins two sets, the teams play a final set until one of them reaches 15 points. Furthermore, the leading team needs to be two points ahead of their opponent.

In the case of beach volleyball, there are three sets, and each set is played up to 21 points. If there’s a draw after two sets, the third set lasts up to 15 points, and again, the leading team needs to be two points ahead.

7. Player rotation: differences between volleyball and beach volleyball

In beach volleyball, there’s no player rotation, and players can stand and play in any position in the playing area. This isn’t the case in indoor volleyball.

In indoor volleyball, there are six players on each team who rotate before playing each point. The position of each player is very important. Before serving, every player needs to be in position. Then, once the ball is in play, players can move freely.

The final difference is their clothing. Indoors, players wear a shirt and shorts, whilst on the beach, women wear a swimsuit.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.