Top 5 Ranked Men's 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. Listed below are the world’s best men’s beach volleyball players of all time.
Who Are the Best Men’s Beach Volleyball Players of All Time?
- Emanuel Rego (Brazil)
- Karch Kiraly (USA)
- Ricardo Santos (Brazil)
- Phil Dalhausser (USA)
- Mike Dodd (USA)
1. Emanuel Rego
- Inducted into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame.
- Won three Olympic medals for his home country, Brazil.
- Five-time Olympian
- 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.
Emanuel Rego is arguably the best men's beach volleyball player of all time. He has won every single trophy a beach volleyball player can win, with over 150 first-place finishes over 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 three 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’s 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
- Won the first men's beach volleyball event ever in the Olympics (in 1996)
- Two-time Olympic gold medalist in indoor team volleyball
- Won three National Championships in four years for UCLA Bruins
- Inducted into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame.
- 148 wins across beach volleyball career
- 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. 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 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. This was all 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.
3. Ricardo Santos
- Three-time Olympic medalist in beach volleyball
- Part of 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.
- Won the tour another two times with different partners, totalling six for his career.
- Won numerous awards such as AVP Newcomer of the Year, FIVB Best Offensive Player, FIVB Team of the Year, and FIVB Sportsperson of the Year.
- Won four Beach Volleyball World Championship medals throughout his career.
- Total of 57 first-place finishes throughout his career in international events.
Ricardo "The Block Machine'' Santos is one of the most skilled players in beach volleyball history. Though Ricardo’s blocking ability was his greatest strength, he was also an offensive powerhouse. Santos won the FIVB Offensive Player of the Year three times. 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 pairing during his career was unquestionably with the legendary Emanuel Rego/. 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 finished third in all of them.
Having won almost every tournament and awards in his career, it is not wrong to say that Ricardo has accomplished everything in beach volleyball. Judging by his medals and accomplishments, it is unquestionable that Ricardo deserves a place amongst the beach volleyball greats.
4. Phil Dalhausser
- Won the AVP Tour four times in a row
- Won gold at 2008 Olympics
- Won two medals in FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships
- Had record streak of 11 years winning at least one FIVB beach volleyball event per year.
- Won AVP MVP and Best Offensive Player, and FIVB Best Offensive Player and Team of the Year.
Phil Dalhausser is one of the most recognizable beach volleyball players ever and also one of the most accomplished. Dalhausser has been incredibly successful nationally and internationally throughout his career, winning a total of 97 first-place trophies. Also known as "The Thin Beast,” he 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.
Phil Dalhausser is the kind of player who is always working on his game, looking to improve every aspect 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, and many 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. Phil Dalhausser is a beach volleyball legend and has the reputation, awards, statistics, and tournament wins to back that up.
5. Mike Dodd
- Participated in the first Beach Volleyball event in the Olympic Games, winning silver
- Won a total of 75 tournament titles
- Inducted into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame
- Won the AVP's Best Defensive Player Award for four years in a row
- Extremely successful in the AVP, becoming its commissioner after his retirement
- Coached 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 court but also because of his legacy and impact beyond 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. During the 80s, Dodd won six Manhattan Beach Opens with his partner Tim Hovland over eight years. At a time where beach volleyball had less international presence, Dodd was absolutely dominant in the United States, winning a total of 72 events throughout his career. Still, he also proved his value internationally by 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 both 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.
- 2012 FIVB Most Valuable Player
- 2007 AVP Best Defensive Player
- 2002 AVP Best Server
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.
- Olympic gold medalist
- Two-time World Championship medalist (one gold, one bronze)
- Three-time AVP Team of the Year winner
- Was teammates with Phil Dalhausser
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.
- 2005 AVP Most Valuable Player
- Four-time Olympian
- 43 all-time wins
Jake Spiker Gibb is a remarkable American beach volleyball player currently 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?
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?
Most professional beach volleyball players make over $100,000 a year, but this salary can vary significantly. 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.