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What are the differences between indoor volleyball and beach volleyball in the Olympics?

The courts, balls, rules, and regulations are slightly different in beach volleyball than indoor volleyball. Both sports are in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 22: Laura Ludwig of Team Germany during Beach Volleyball training at Shiokaze Park ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 22, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
Maja HitijGetty Images

Whether it’s on the beach or on a court, volleyball is a great game to watch and play. But what are the differences between beach volleyball and indoor volleyball?

Volleyball was first introduced to the Tokyo Games in 1964, whereas beach volleyball didn’t make its debut until 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia. Although it’s the same sport, volleyball requires different skills than beach volleyball, and the rules and regulations slightly differ as well.

The most obvious difference is that beach volleyball is played entirely on sand, making it easier to dive, and harder to pivot. The digs make high jumps more difficult on the sand, but the sand provides a nice cushion for a hard landing.

How many players are there on beach volleyball vs. indoor volleyball?

Indoor volleyball teams play with 6 players on each side. Beach volleyball on the other hand is made up of a team of two on each side. In beach volleyball, substitutions are not allowed.

How big is a beach volleyball court vs. an indoor volleyball court?

While the court size changes, the net is the same size on a beach volleyball court as an indoor volleyball court. The Olympic beach volleyball court is 16m (52.5ft) long and 8m (26.2ft) wide. The indoor volleyball court is 18m (59ft) long and 9m (29.5ft) wide, making it somewhat longer and wider than the beach volleyball court.

How does scoring work in beach volleyball vs. indoor volleyball?

Beach volleyball is the best of three and the players goes until one team gets to 21 points. When a third set is necessary, the play goes until one team reaches 15 points. In indoor volleyball, the play goes on until one team reaches 25 points.

How do the uniforms differ for beach volleyball vs. indoor volleyball?

Since the London Olympics, women have been able to choose between wearing shorts or bikini bottoms, but that’s not the norm in all international tournaments, such as the Euro 2021 handball tournament.

A controversial difference between indoor volleyball and outdoor volleyball are the uniforms the players are expected to wear. At the Euro 2021 tournament, female handball athletes took a stand by calling out the double-standard that exists when it comes to uniforms. The Norwegian volleyball team was fined for wearing shorts that were too long, yet the men are free to wear shorts. Some athletes say the bikini competition outfit is more comfortable, as less sand gets caught in the uniform, but athletes argue that they should be given the choice to wear shorts or bikinis.

The international handball federation regulations say, "Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms ... with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg," the rules state. "The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimeters."

US Volleyball player tests positive for Covid-19

Beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb is one of the most athletes to test positive for coronavirus. He is one among many athletes that have tested positive upon arriving in Japan and leading up to the Tokyo Olympics. Taylor said in an interview that he believes he should still be okay to play in the Olympics and that he is feeling fine and healthy.


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