Top 5 Ranked Mens Beach Volleyball Players Of All Time

Top 5 Ranked Mens Beach Volleyball Players Of All Time

Beach volleyball is a highly competitive sport that has been played for over a hundred years. The sport takes place on a sand court with a net in the middle to divide both sides. Each team consists of two players who must work together to score points by landing the ball within the boundaries of their opponent’s side of the court. Beach volleyball is played both recreationally and professionally, and has been an official Olympic sport since 1996. Below are some of the world’s best men’s beach volleyball players to ever play the sport.

Who are the best men’s beach volleyball players of all time?

  1. Emanuel Rego (Brazil)
  2. Karch Kiraly (USA)
  3. Ricardo Santos (Brazil)
  4. Phil Dalhausser (USA)
  5. Mike Dodd (USA)

1. Emanuel Rego

  • Emanuel Rego is one of only eight male beach volleyball players to be inducted into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame.
  • Emanuel has won three Olympic gold medals for his home country, Brazil. His best performance was in 2004 when, alongside Ricardo Santos, he won the gold medal.  
  • Participated in 5 different editions of the Olympic Games, winning medals in three of them.
  • During his career, Emanuel finished as the FIVB's top scorer 10 times, doing so with five different partners.
  • Secured 258 international participations with 156 podium finishes and 86 wins.

When talking about beach volleyball, it is impossible not to mention Emanuel Rego. Emanuel, arguably the best Men's Beach Volleyball Player of all time, has won every single trophy a beach volleyball player can win, with over 150 first-place finishes through his 20-year career. Emanuel's greatness is not only seen through his medals but also through his consistency throughout the years. He participated in five different Olympic Games, winning a gold medal, silver medal, and bronze medal. His last participation was in 2012, where he won the silver medal at the age of 38. 

In addition, Emanuel also has 3 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship titles, including one played in Brazil in front of his own nation. Although his numbers speak for themselves, Emanuel's behavior on the sand contributes to his consideration as one of the best to ever play the sport. Emanuel was a very calm and analytical player, leading by gaining the respect of everyone in the beach volleyball world. 

The most successful period of Emanuel's career was while partnering with another of Beach Volleyball greats, Ricardo Santos. Together, the double won the Olympic Gold in Athens 2004 and have a 289-55 FIVB record in their time together. Ricardo and Emanuel are widely regarded as the best beach volleyball double ever. Besides Ricardo, Emanuel had other partners and was successful with every single one of them, another proof of his talent, leadership, and consistency. Curiously, Emanuel was inspired to start beach volleyball after watching the next player on our list, Karch Kiraly.

2. Karch Kiraly

  • Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes won the first Men's Beach Volleyball event ever in the Olympics, in 1996.
  • In addition to finding success on the sand, Kiraly has also won two Olympic Gold medals on indoor team volleyball.
  • Kiraly played college volleyball for the UCLA Bruins, winning 3 national championships in four years. He had his number retired by the university and was inducted into UCLA's Athletic Hall of Fame.
  • Karch Kiraly is a member of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame.
  • Kiraly has 148 wins in his beach volleyball career, from which he has more career earnings than any other beach volleyball player in history.
  • As of 2020, Kiraly coaches the U.S. women’s national volleyball team.  

Few players, if any, have been as successful on the court and on the sand as Karch Kiraly, and few will ever be. Kiraly is an athlete of extreme skill and dedication, which allowed him to become the "sport-changing" athlete that he has become. After winning two Olympic gold medals and two FIVB MVP awards as an indoor volleyball player, Kiraly decided to change scenes, retiring from the court and getting into the sand and beach volleyball at the age of 32. He had played beach volleyball before, during his teen years, but never professionally. 

Kiraly's first partner was Kent Steffes, playing in the American-based AVP tour, winning 74 AVP opens during his first four seasons. As beach volleyball became an Olympic Sport in 1996, Kiraly and Steffes were a dominating force, winning the first-ever men's beach volleyball Olympic gold medal, his third volleyball Olympic Gold. Playing through his 40s, Kiraly continued to be a dominant player, making his presence felt on the AVP tour and beating significantly younger players. 

Karch Kiraly's playing style was legendary. He was one of those players who understands what being an athlete really means and what it takes to achieve success in the sport. He was known as a fierce competitor with an unflinching focus, whose skill and natural talent, in addition to the discipline and will, made him one of the best volleyball players ever.

3. Ricardo Santos

  • Ricardo Santos has three Olympic medals in beach volleyball, one gold medal, one silver medal, and one bronze medal.
  • Ricardo had one of the best beach volleyball doubles in history with Emanuel Rego, winning Olympic gold in 2004 and the FIVB tour four years in a row.
  • Ricardo also won the tour another two times with different partners, totalling 6 for his career.
  • Ricardo has won numerous individual awards such as AVP Newcomer of the year, FIVB Best Offensive Player, FIVB Team of the year, and FIVB Sportsperson of the year.
  • Ricardo has won a total of four beach volleyball medals throughout his career, one gold in 2003 and three silver medals in 2001, 2011, and 2013.
  • Ricardo has a total of 57 first-place finishes throughout his career in international events.

With probably the coolest nickname in beach volleyball, Ricardo "The Block Machine" Santos is one of the most skilled players in beach volleyball history. Ricardo’s blocking ability was his greatest strength, but he was still with a complete package when it came to attacking. Santos won the FIVB Offensive Player of the Year three times. The balance between defense and offense is a big part of Ricardo's success. The athlete has won numerous individual awards because of his skills while also managing to win countless competitions with many different partners. 

Ricardo's best double during his career was unquestionably with Emanuel Rego, who is also present on this list. After playing for 20 years and participating in four editions of the Olympic Games, Ricardo made his debut at the AVP, defeating important doubles and gaining notoriety despite being past his prime. The beach volleyball legend won the AVP's Newcomer of the year award. In the first three seasons in the AVP, Ricardo has finished third in all of them, making it to the podium.

Having won almost everything in his career, it is not wrong to say that Ricardo has accomplished everything in beach volleyball. Still, he has one last desire, to play professionally in a double with his son. Judging by his medals and accomplishments, it is unquestionable that Ricardo deserves a place amongst the beach volleyball greats. In addition to that, he still leaves a legacy behind, with his son also pursuing a career in beach volleyball.

4. Phil Dalhausser

  • Phil Dalhauser has won the AVP Tour four times in a row.  
  • Phil won the men's beach volleyball event in the 2008 Olympics. In addition to that, he has participated in two other editions of the games.
  • Dalhausser has two medals in FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, a gold medal and bronze medal.
  • Phil Dalhausser had a streak of 11 years winning at least one FIVB beach volleyball event per year, an all-time record.
  • Immensely successful both nationally and internationally, Phils Dalhausser has numerous individual awards, including AVP's MVP, Best Offensive Player, and FIVB's Best Offensive Player, and Team of the Year.

With his clean shaved head, Phil Dalhausser is one of the most recognizable beach volleyball players ever. He is also one of the most accomplished beach volleyball players ever. Dalhausser has been incredibly successful nationally and internationally throughout his career, winning a total of 97 first-place trophies. "The Thin Beast", as he is known, has won all of the major beach volleyball tournaments in the world, including the Olympics, the AVP tour, the FIVB Tour, and the FIVB World Championships. In addition to that, his career is also filled with individual awards, again, from both national and international beach volleyball scenes. 

Phil Dalhausser is the kind of player who is always working on his game, looking to improve all aspects of it. Proof of that is seen in his many, many individual awards mentioned above. Phil has won FIVB's Best Hitter, Best Spiker, Best Server, Best Setter, among others. If all those different awards weren't enough to show you that Phil was always evolving his game, he also won FIVB's Most Improved Player in 2006, at the prime of his career. Like the other players in this list, Phil Dalhausser is a beach volleyball legend and has the reputation, awards, statistics, and tournament wins to back that up. 

5. Mike Dodd

  • Mike Dodd participated in the first Beach Volleyball event in the Olympic Games, winning the silver medal.
  • Dodd has a total of 75 tournament titles, amongst the 10 most successful athletes in beach volleyball history.
  • Mike Dodd is one of only six beach volleyball players to be in the International Volleyball Hall of Fame.
  • Mike Dodd won the AVP's Best Defensive Player Award for four years in a row. He was extremely successful in the AVP, and would go on to be its commissioner after his retirement from the sand courts.
  • In addition to having a starred playing career, Mike Dodd also was a coach for Team USA in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Mike Dodd is one of beach volleyball’s greatest players not only because of his accomplishments on the sand court, but also because of his legacy and impact on the sport outside of it. After a successful playing career, Mike Dodd did not get away from beach volleyball, but instead stayed involved. Dodd's playing career started at a very young age. At 16, he already showed he had the talent to be a top beach volleyball player. At college, Dodd was also a star basketball player, proof of his athleticism and talent for sports. He ended up being selected in the NBA draft by the San Diego Clippers. Luckily for volleyball fans, he chose beach volleyball over basketball, where he found extensive success. 

Dodd started playing professionally in the early 1980s when beach volleyball was not as big as it is today and saw the sport grow before his eyes. During the 80's, Dodd won 6 Manhattan Beach Opens in 8 years, with his partner Tim Hovland. At a time where beach volleyball had less international presence, Dodd was absolutely dominant in the United States, winning a total of 72 events in his home country throughout his career. Still, when the time came, he also proved his value internationally, finishing second in the 1996 Olympic Games. 

From a different time, Mike Dodd was a raw volleyball player who trash-talked and wanted to win more than anything. He brought that personality to his post-beach volleyball career. Dodd coached men's and women's beach volleyball for Italy and the United States. He also served as an analyst for television during the Olympics and even went on to become the AVP's commissioner. Mike Dodd has truly made his mark in beach volleyball, and will likely continue to do so.

Honorable Mentions

Sean Rosenthal

Sean Rosenthal is a renowned beach volleyball veteran and former Olympian. He is often referred to as “Rosie”, but has also garnered the nickname “Superman” for his impressive jumping ability. Sean began his professional career at the young age of 17, choosing to join the AVP in lieu of college. Early in his career, he won the AVP’s Best Server award in 2002 and was also named as FIVB’s Top Rookie in 2006. As his career progressed, Rosenthal built an impressive resume consisting of 10 FIVB Gold Medals, 12 AVP first place tournament finishes, and 60 AVP podium finishes over 20 years. In 2012, Rosie earned FIVB’s Most Outstanding Player award while his duo with Jake Gibb took home the FIVB Tour Championship and was named FIVB Team of the Year. He also represented the USA along with Gibb in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, with their team placing fifth both times. Sean Rosenthal will be entering his 21st season as a professional beach volleyball player, boasting longevity that most athletes in the sport haven’t been able to sustain.

Todd Rogers

Todd Rogers is a highly decorated beach volleyball player, who won 52 AVP titles, 24 FIVB gold medals, and Olympic gold at Beijing 2008. He also represented the United States at the London 2012 Olympics, but did not take home a medal. He and partner Phil Dalhausser were one of the most dominant beach volleyball duos of all time, winning gold together in Beijing, along with earning AVP “Team of the Year” honors three times. 

Jake Gibb

Jake Spiker Gibb (yes, that’s really his middle name) is an American beach volleyball player on the AVP Tour. Unlike most other beach volleyball superstars, Gibb did not start playing the sport until he was 21 years old. He has represented the United States in four separate Olympic games: Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016, and Tokyo 2020. He and his old partner, Sean Rosenthal, go down as one of the best duos in the history of the sport. In more recent years, he has partnered with Taylor Crabb, amassing eight AVP titles and earning the “Team of the Year” honor in 2019.


Which men’s beach volleyball player holds the record for most career wins?

To date, Karch Kiraly holds the record for the most wins as a men’s beach volleyball player. This record stands at 148 total wins, with the next closest player being American beach volleyball player Sinjin Smith with a total of 139 wins. Karch is a legendary American beach volleyball player, whose reign of dominance stretched into his 40’s. Kiraly earned three Olympic gold medals representing the United States, in 1984, 1988, and 1996. He also went on to coach Team USA in women’s Olympic beach volleyball, with a bronze finish in 2016 and a gold medal finish in the 2020 Olympics. 

How much money do beach volleyball players make?

There is no standardized answer in regards to how much beach volleyball players make. In fact, beach volleyball players don’t actually earn a set salary. Rather, they earn money in the form of tournament purses and endorsements. Therefore, the most successful beach volleyball players will make far more than those who consistently fail to win high paying tournaments.

What country has won the most Olympic gold medals in men’s beach volleyball?

The winningest country in the history of men’s beach volleyball is the United States. They hold this distinction with a total of three Olympic gold medals, earned in 1996, 2000, and 2008. This string of success was attained on the back of all time greats like Karch Kiraly and Phil Dalhausser. The country in second place in terms of Olympic success in men’s beach volleyball is Brazil, which has earned a total of two Olympic gold medals in the sport. Their medals were earned in the 2004 and 2016 Summer Olympics.