Differences Between Beach and Indoor Volleyball

Volleyball is a fun and rigorous sport that can be played both indoors and on the beach. Both beach volleyball and indoor volleyball are now Olympic sports, and have professional leagues. 

Coaches and professional players sometimes have preferences about which kind of volleyball they like better, or which one is harder to do. Many say that volleyball in the sand is tougher because it’s harder to jump, but others say that injuries occur more on indoor volleyball courts, especially when you dive for the ball.

Professional volleyball player James Martin Natividad from the Philippines plays both beach and indoor volleyball.

“I love beach volleyball and I love indoor volleyball, you have to be very well conditioned for both,” says Natividad, who is on Sportamix.

“I like playing both kinds of volleyball, it is hard for me to pick which one I would rather play. I really enjoy beach volleyball, but indoors is better for spiking and jumping.”

Beach Volleyball Player

Here are a few of the major differences. Some are not so obvious.

The Surface

One obvious difference between sand volleyball and regular volleyball is the sand. That’s a big difference. The sand is much harder to run in, and you can’t jump as high. 

It is easier to run on a hardwood floor, but falling on your knees is much kinder in the sand.

The Gear

Sand volleyball can be played barefoot and in bathing suits. 

Indoor volleyball requires tennis shoes and maybe Spandex.

The Weather

Sand volleyball may be played in rain, shine and blistering heat. Be ready for scorching sand, and windy weather. Your shots will depend more on the weather outside, rather than shooting straight down as you would in an indoor game.

And, those playing with sunglasses in indoor volleyball are just trying to be unnecessarily cool.

The Teams

Two players are on a team for sand volleyball and six are needed for indoors. 

With only two players, sand ball requires much more skills needed for a sand player, who both have to be good at everything. They are required to play all parts of the court, sometimes at the same time. In beach volleyball, there are no specialized positions.

The History

Volleyball was invented in 1895 and beach volleyball originated in 1915 in Hawaii. 

Indoor volleyball became legitimized as an Olympic sport in 1964, while beach volleyball first entered the Summer Olympics in 1996.

The Balls

A beach volleyball is softer and lighter than its indoor counterpart. It is also slightly larger so it can more easily float in the air.

An indoor volleyball is made out of leather and can be hit much harder.

The Scoring

Beach volleyball involves three sets of games with 21 points each game. Two winning sets out of three win the match. 

Indoor volleyball has five sets with 25 points needed to win, and three sets win the match.

The win-by-two-points rule is the same in both games.

The Court

A beach volleyball court is 16 meters (52.5 feet) long and 8 meters (26.2 feet) wide.

An indoor court is 18 meters (59 feet) by 9 meters (29.5 feet).

The net heights are the same for both games at 2.43 meters (7-feet, 11 inches), and for girl players the nets are a few inches shorter.