What's So Different About NCAA Sand Volleyball?

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Volleyball in the Sand

Get ready for the inaugural season of NCAA sand volleyball by learning the differences between traditional indoor volleyball and its beach counterpart. If you're a high school athlete, consider the differences if you decide to pursue a future in indoor or sand volleyball during your college years.

Number of Players
Indoor teams have six players on the court, often including a defensive specialist called a libero. With so many players on the court at a time, each athlete has a primary role—attacker, blocker or setter. Sand volleyball has only two players per side, so both must be able to attack, set and defend equally well.

Court Size
Sand volleyball courts are about six and a half feet (two meters) shorter than their indoor counterparts. Also, indoor courts have parallel attack lines about 10 feet (three meters) from the net, which back row players are not allowed to cross when hitting the ball. Sand courts have no attack lines.

Sand volleyball is played at a faster pace than the indoor game, so scoring is different. Indoor sets have a best of five format, with the first four games played up to 25 and the fifth up to 15. Sand games are only best of three, with the first two games played to 21 and the last played to 15.

The ball used for NCAA sand volleyball is lighter, softer and larger than the indoor ball, making a big difference in the way games are played. The small, heavy ball makes indoor games about power and speed. The lighter outdoor ball allows beach players to hit with varying degrees of force, use subterfuge and take advantage of the wind to make the game more strategic.

For more information on this emerging sport, tune in next week as we discuss conditioning and exercise programs for aspiring sand volleyball players.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock