The object of the game is for your team to win two sets faster than the opposing team. In beach volleyball, teams are made up of only 2 players each and to win a set, a team has to reach 21 points and be at least 2 points clear of the opposing team. To score a point, a team has to hit the ball over the net and into the opposite side of the court without the opponents returning the ball. The sand court is 16 metres by 8 metres, with a net cutting the court in half which is 8ft tall (men) or 7ft 4in tall (women). If the ball hits the line, this is counted as being in play and counts as a point. Like indoor volleyball, a team gets 3 hits to play the ball over the net. The first hit is usually a pass or bump to settle the ball, but is also known as a dig (a diving hit) when it’s a last ditch attempt to save the ball from hitting the ground on your side of the court, the second hit is a set (a soft layup so your teammate can easily hit the ball) and the third touch a attack or spike (a powerful hit towards the ground to win a point). A team doesn’t have to take all 3 hits if they don’t want to, and sometimes it is better to catch the opposing team off guard by attacking on the 2nd hit. The game is a back and forth affair, with each team trying to defend their side of the court whilst setting their own team up for an attack.
In beach volleyball, there are a few things you can’t do and doing any of these things will result in the opposing team winning a point instead. You can’t hit the ball on to the ground outside of the marked play area. You cannot hit the ball twice in succession, players have to alternate touches to hit the ball over the net in 3 touches. You cannot catch or throw the ball. You can’t pass over the baseline when making a serve. You cannot touch the net or hit the ball into the antennas on the net, and finally, your team can’t touch the ball more than 3 times in a row. Unlike traditional indoor volleyball, players do not need to rotate clockwise after a point is won, and can move into any position on the court they wish to (there are no fixed playing positions). Once a team has won 21 points and is at least 2 points clear, they win the set. If both teams win 1 set each, the 3rd set only goes to 15 points. The first team to win 2 sets, wins the match. There are a few tactics teams will employ to try and win a point. For example, when the attacking team goes to spike the ball, the defending team can block the shot at the net (however, they cannot reach over the net or touch the net). This tactic is not only great for defending a point from being scored, but can instantly spike the ball to win a point in your favour. Unlike indoor volleyball, a block does count towards one of your 3 allowed hits.