back to top

Oh My God, Beach Volleyball Is Magnificent


Posted on

Beach volleyball, which is currently being played at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, is an extremely intense, fast-paced sport.

Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

Everyone needs to be watching beach volleyball this Olympics. Here's why.

First of all, these are the, um, women's uniforms.

Instagramkerrileewalsh / Via Instagram: @kerrileewalsh

Here are the men's jerseys. 💪

Instagram: @_bruno_schmidt_

Technically, players can wear shorts or a bathing suit (one- or two-piece optional). Players on the same team must wear matching jerseys marked 1 and 2.


One of the craziest things about the sport is that it's played barefoot on sand, a surface that basically absorbs all of your speed and energy.

Leon Neal / AFP / Getty Images

Running in sand = HARD. Vertical jumping? Even harder. Sand reduces most players' air to just a few inches off the ground unless, of course, you're an Olympic athlete. Add the fact that the sport is largely hosted outdoors in the hot sun, which means playing on actual hell for an hour or more.

Players can, by official rules, play with socks and/or shoes, but no one really does.


Because there are only two players per team, beach volleyball pros are incredibly versatile.

Shaun Botterill / Getty Images, Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

They can all serve, set, spike, pass, block, and — most entertaining of all — dig.

Players will do anything they can to save the ball. The dives, or "digs," are EPIC.

Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

Each team gets three moves, or "contacts", before sending the ball over the net. The players have a lot of ground to cover and usually there isn't enough time to set up your body perfectly underneath the ball to hit it back over. So players will throw themselves on the ground in an attempt to save the ball from touching the court in what's called a "dig."

"Blocking" the ball is very strategic. Players use hand signals to indicate where they will attempt to block the opponent's play.

Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

This part of the game gets a little bit complicated, but basically, the signals indicate where on the court the blocker is going to jump at the net to block the ball from coming over. This helps the other player determine where they should be as back-up.


The venues are typically in the most beautiful locations in the world. The 2016 Rio Olympics are the first games to host beach volleyball at a natural beach since Sydney in 2000.

Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

The beach volleyball arena for the Rio games is at the famed Copacabana beach.

New in this Olympics is the ability to challenge official calls.

Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

The sport is introducing a video replay. Teams get two challenges per set and if the challenge is proved correct, the team maintains the number of challenges available. If not, they lose that opportunity.


Instagram user phildalhausser / Via Instagram: @phildalhausser