Beach Volleyball

Leave your beach blanket at home -- this is one sport where digging your heels into the sand is only the beginning.

Hey, beach v-baller. What do you know about this sandy sport? Dig in to the history of beach volleyball, organizations like the California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) and the Association for Volleyball Professionals (AVP).

Whether you have dream of going head to head with the best beach volleyball players in the world, or simply ruling your local courts, we also have some great new moves for you to master. Plus, there’s no harm in getting a refresher on the six fundamentals skills.

Don’t forget to take the volleyball quiz and test your knowledge of v-ball lingo, the history of the sport and some specs on Olympic Beach Volleyball.

Beach Volleyball 101

Leave your beach blanket at home — this is one sport where digging your heels into the sand is only the beginning.


A serve is the first action in every volleyball game. When a player serves the ball over the net, she puts the ball into game play from behind the baseline, or back perimeter on her side of the court. The player can serve the ball in a variety of ways depending on her strength, skill and personal preference.

  • Underhand Serve: Ball is hit with the heel of the hand in an upward scooping motion.
  • Overhand Serve: Ball is hit with the heel of the hand in an overhand motion after the ball is tossed in the air.
  • Jump Serve: The player serves the ball with a jumping spike over the net.
  • Round-House Serve: Using a wind-mill motion the ball is hit with the heel of the hand in an upward scooping movement.
  • Sky Ball Serve: A very high underhand serve that looks like it's coming straight down.
  • Overhand Spin Serve: Similar to the overhand serve, but by hitting the ball in the middle and snapping the wrist, the player causes the ball to spin.
Practice these different serve styles and you just might get an ace, a serve that scores a point from the server, by hitting the sand on the other team's side of the net.


A set is an important skill to learn. As one of the tactical moves in the game, a set is performed when one player "sets up" another player with a pass to spike the ball from a better angle over the net. A set is type of assist, or play that helps a teammate score, or get a kill. A kill, is the term used for a successful attack, when a player scores a point by hitting the ball over the net onto the other team's side.

Types of Sets

  • Slide Set: A pass to another player about two to three feet from the setter to the hitter for a spike, or attack. These sets are more like a lob than a tip.
  • Play Set: A combination offensive play including a medium high set with a lower set hit to fall below the opposing team's blockers.
  • Pump: A fake attack that looks like a spike, but then is a set, or passed, to another player.
  • Quick Set: A low set used to beat a blocker on the opposing side (see play set).
  • Release Set: A high pass usually to a sideline hitter.
  • Shoot Set or Set Attack: Another type of fake, used offensively when a player attempts a kill instead of passing (thought it looks like a set).
  • Trap Set: A set made close to the net for the hitter to spike and provide an advantage for the team's blockers.
  • Deep Set: A set hit in the opposite direction of the net to a hitter for a score. This play is used to confuse the blockers on the other team, because the balls moves away from the net.


A block is a defensive tactical move used to keep the opposing team from scoring a kill. Blocks can work with a combination of one, two or three players to prevent a spiked ball from hitting the sand. A block is usually made with the hands, resulting in a hit over the net or becoming a set to another player. Below are some examples of blocks in game play.

Block Types

  • Attack Block: In order to prevent an aggressive kill, players must first defend their side with a forceful attack block.
  • Block Assist: When one or more players successfully block attacks from the opposing team in the front row. All players participating in the defense receive a block assist.
  • Block Solo: If one player terminates a rally in the front row, it's called a block solo.
  • Commit Block: A strategy play between two teammates, where a middle player jumps with a hitter in an effort to block the attack.
  • Double Block: Two players working in tandem to block the ball near the net.
  • Follow: Similar to a player-on-player defense in basketball, where a blocker follows an attacker, trading positions with another teammate to complete the move.
  • Read Block: To watch the setter in an effort to "read" where the ball is going.
  • Release Block: A tactical defense between a few players who work together with an outside blocker and middle blocker to prevent a kill.
  • Triple Block: Three players joining together to block a hit.
  • Split Block: A double block made between two players whose defensive hit then splits two defenders on the opposite team.


A hit, or an attack, is an offensive play used to score against the opposing team and end a play. An attacker, who is usually in the front row, closest to the net, is the person who hits or spikes the ball in an attempt to get a kill. An attacker cannot hit the ball behind the attack line, which is three meters away from the net.

If a player in the back row of the rotation wants to attack, he must jump from behind this line. This is called a back row attack. When a back row player attacks down the middle, it's called a Pipe Set. There are other forms of attack conducted by the team. If an attacked is done diagonally across, it is called a cross-court attack. There are also moves made within the team like the cross, flair, loop, pump and slide.

  • Cross: When two attackers cross paths on their side of the court.
  • Flair: A strategic play involving a fake hitter who allows an outside spiker to attack from the right sideline of the court.
  • Loop: An attack done with a curve.
  • Pump: Another fake attack that looks like a spike, but then is a set to another player.
  • Slide: A popular tactic used to get to the ball quickly.


In volleyball, a pass is executed in a few different ways. The most common pass is called a bump for slang. This type of forearm pass is done when your arms are pulled together, joining at the wrist with hands clasped to form a triangle pointing away from a player's body. The ball is hit with the fleshy part of the hands in a upward motion.

An overhand pass is done with both hands and controlled by the fingers.

In general, passing is done to control the flow of the play within the team.


A dig is a type of pass used to save the team from an opposing team kill. Often a dig occurs right before the ball is about to hit the sand. Many times, in order to save the ball from a spike, the player must dive to dig the ball and pass to another teammate for an offensive hit over the net.

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