What’s the Difference between Volleyball and Beach-volleyball?

You have probably already seen a match of these two sports by zapping on TV. But few people know the difference between volley-ball and beach-volleyball. The purpose of this article is to answer your questions about these two different sports.

As a whole, volleyball is generally played indoor, on a larger court because there are 6 players on each side.
Beach-volley is played on the sand, on a smaller court, with only 2 players on each side

That’s it for a quick answer, but I’ll now go into more details to offer you a complete comparative between these two sports in the following of this post



A sport in which two teams hit a ball over a high net with their hands

Cambridge Dictionary

So there is a net at the middle of the court, separating each team
Players use mostly their hands to pass the ball to another team player or send it to the other side
They can also use other parts of the body (head, foot, etc.) if necessary, but it’s not usual

The court

The entire volleyball court is 59.1 ft (ca. 18 m) long and 29.5 ft (ca. 9 m)
Each side is a square of 29.5 ft x 29.5 ft (ca. 9 m x 9 m)
In each square there is only one line, the attack line, located at 9.8ft (ca. 3 m) of the net

At this point, a picture will probably help to understand better what I try to explain:

Schematic top view of a volleyball court
The central line on my schema represents the net

The net

So, the net separate the two side, at the middle of the court
For adults, it’s 7.97 ft high (ca. 2.43m) for men, and 7.34 ft (2.24 m) for women

Kids have a less high net, depending on their age

The ball

The volleyball ball has a similar size to a soccer ball

The texture and the design are slightly different (it depends on the models)
It is also slightly more flexible (the goal is to use it with hands) and a little less heavy than a soccer ball

The players

In this part, I’ll explain you in more details the players roles and organization
As in many sports, there is a specific organization in volleyball
Players on the court each have a specific role, but they change at every point 🙂


On the court, you can find three defenders and three attackers
Defenders have to play behind the attack line during all the point

The name of each position is explicit enough, so here is the list of position in a volleyball team:

  • Right-side setter: or right defender, it’s its turn to start the point (service)
  • Middle setter: center defender
  • Left setter: left defender
  • Left-side hitter: left attacker
  • Middle hitter: center attacker
  • Right-side hitter: right attacker

There can also be a libero in the team
A libero is a defense specialist who never turn with the other players, and he doesn’t play all the time

The libero doesn’t have the right to attack or counter, generally he’s responsible for receiving the attack or serving
Teams don’t necessarily have a libero, it’s an optional position
For teams who have one, the libero enter on the court only when the situation requires him to play (if they have defense problems for example)

The female player with the blue shirt is in really in the same team
It’s a distinctive sign of the libero


As I already wrote, there are 6 players on the court, with 3 players on each line (3 setters/defenders and 3 hitters/attackers)

At the end of each point, the team which won the point will turn clockwise and serve
That is to say that the player who just serves will become the new center defender, the old middle setter will go on the left, etc.
If there is a libero in the team, they never move to the center defender position, they go directly from right to left, as the libero doesn’t move

As usual, a picture will probably be clearer:

Picture of rotations in volleyball

Training and competition

Volleyball training is similar to many sports
There are many clubs which trains teenagers
Then there are local competitions to test their level on what they have learned

In many countries, volleyball is often played at school, at any age
This gives a first glimpse to students who can then join a club to improve themselves

For adults competitions, you’ll often find national and international leagues or cups for each country (in the US, the Premier Volleyball League was discontinued in 2017)
A world cup also exists, with an operation close to the FIFA World Cup in soccer
And finally, the Olympics Games for the best nations in the world


Let’s close this part with a short video which resumes many things I wrote about the volleyball (we’ll see if you were focused ^^)
This is the highlights of the match between USA and Russia in 2019 (Nations League, final):

Detailed rules

If you are looking for the complete volleyball rules, you can find the last official rules here on the international federation website (PDF)

Beach volleyball

We can now look at the beach volleyball particularities
I highly recommend reading the volleyball part before. This part is shorter because many things are the same as for indoor volleyball


Volleyball played outdoors on sand with usually two players to a side


Ok, thanks for the information, we already know that 🙂
So beach volleyball is played on the beach (on the sand anyway) with two players on each side of the court

The court

The beach volleyball court is smaller, as there are only 2 players in each team

The court is 52.5 ft (ca. 16 m) long and 26.2 ft (ca. 8 m) wide
There is no line on it, only the outline

As for volleyball, there is a net in the middle
The net is between 2.24 m (ca. 7.34 ft) high for women, and 2.43 m (ca. 7.97 ft) high for men

The players

There are two players in each team
There is not really roles in beach volleyball, as you’ll see in the following video

Players rotate to serve, and so they stay on their position for the point, but there is no attacker or defender, they just keep their side on the court
As they are only two, they need to run more than in indoor volleyball, but there are free to go everywhere on the court if needed


Here is a video of an awesome point between Canada and USA in the world championship of 2016, in Swiss
It looks like the point will never end 🙂

Differences between volleyball and beach volleyball

Let’s see now the differences between the two sports in a shorter format

The ground

Obviously, the answer is in the sport name

Volleyball is played on a hard surface, usually indoors (in a gym for example)
Beach volleyball, like the name says, is played on the sand. It could be on a beach or a court built for that at another place

The court

Both sports used similar courts. They are squared and separated by a net in the middle, but not only

The volleyball court is a bit larger (1 meter more in each direction). Each team play in a 9 m side square
There is also an attack line, close to the net

The beach volleyball court is smaller, and simpler (without any line except the limits)

The ball

The ball is almost the same in volleyball and beach volleyball
But the one to play on the sand is a bit heavier because they sometimes need to play with bad weather (like under the rain)

The teams

In volleyball there are 6 players, with a complex organization, including rotations within specific roles and positions
There is a rotation at each new point, where each player has to move to another position

In beach volleyball, this is more free, as there are only 2 players
They just need to serve in turn

During a point, the positions on the court can change according to the game


That’s it, this is the end of the comparison between two interesting sports: indoor volleyball and beach volleyball

I hope you liked this post and that I answered most of your questions

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