In beach volleyball, scoring works by teams winning points through serving and hitting the ball, trying to get the ball to land on ground in the other team's court.
A match starts by one player "serving" the ball over the net to the other team. The other team has a maximum of three hits to return the ball over the net to the original team. If successful, the teams continue to "rally," or hit the ball back and forth over the net until one team commits an error. When a team commits an error, the opposing team is awarded one point. Therefore, the objective is to cause the other team to fail to return the ball over the net. An error or illegal hit can include hitting the ball greater than three times before returning it over the net, hitting the ball into the net, hitting the ball out of bounds, or not being able to hit the ball overall.
The four most common ways to hit the ball in volleyball are the serve, bump, set and spike. A serve is the initial hit to begin the match. Serves can be done overhand, underhand, and or in a jump serve fashion where the player jumps in the air and swings at the ball. A bump is when a player uses their forearms to hit the ball. This is typically used to pass the ball to a teammate. A regular bump occurs when the player hits the ball at the waist or above. If a player must get low to the ground to perform a bump, it is referred to as a dig. A set is another way of passing the ball that usually occurs after a bump. During a set, a player uses their hands to pass the ball overhead to help set up a spike. The spike is the end of the sequence where a player jumps in the air towards the set ball and swings at the ball with force to send it over the net.
During a beach volleyball match, teams play a minimum of two sets. In each of the first two sets, teams switch sides every time seven points are scored. A set is won when one team that scores 21 points with a two point advantage over the opposing team. If a team reaches 21 points but only has a one point advantage (the score is 21-20), the teams keep playing until one team has a two point advantage. The first team that wins two sets wins the whole match. If one team wins the first set and the other team wins the second set, a third set must be played.
The third set is different from the first two sets. Instead of every seven points, the teams switch sides every five points. Additionally, the third set is won by the first team to score 15 points. Like the first two sets, a team must have a two point advantage to win the third set. The team that wins the third set wins the entire match.
A team scores when the opposing team performs an illegal hit or fails to return the ball over the net. This occurs when the team hits the ball into the net, hits the ball greater than three times, hits the ball out of bounds, or is unable to get to the ball to hit it.
In beach volleyball, teams can only score one point at a time. A team scores a point when the opposite team is not able to return the ball over the net legally. Depending on the league and age level, matches may be played to different scores and the number of sets may vary. In traditional beach volleyball, two sets are played to a score of 21 with a third set being played to 15 points if needed.
Different from indoor volleyball, beach volleyball is played on a sand court and players do not wear shoes. Therefore, it is important that the court is free from debris so that players do not cut their feet while playing. At the USA Volleyball and NCAA doubles competition level, the court is 16m by 8m. The posts are 1m away from each sideline and 10m apart from one another. Recreational courts are usually larger to allow for more players.
To be a good beach volleyball player, one should be agile and have good reaction time. These are important skills because players need to be able to quickly respond to hits from the other team. A good beach volleyball player must also be strong in all of the essential volleyball skills including passing, hitting, serving, and playing defense. In addition, players should have solid ball control to strategically place the ball for their teammates and against their opponents.