Beach Volleyball Competition Format

The Commonwealth Games competition features both men’s and women’s Team events.

There are 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams, with each team made up of two players. Each gender is seeded into three pools, with the top teams advancing to the knockout phase of quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals.

The winners of the semi-final matches play for the gold and silver medals in the Gold Medal Match. The unsuccessful semi-finalists then play for the bronze medal in the Bronze Medal Match.


Beach volleyball is a team sport played by two teams of two players on a sand court divided by a net. The sport may be played in any weather, except thunder and lightning.

As in indoor volleyball the object of the game is to send the ball over the net and to ground it on the opponent’s court, and to prevent the same effort by the opponent. A team is allowed up to three touches to return the ball across the net. The ball is put in play with a serve — a hit by the server from behind the rear court boundary over the net to the opponents. The rally continues until the ball is grounded on the playing court, goes “out”, or is not returned properly.

The team winning a rally scores a point (rally-point system) and serves to start the following rally. The four players serve in the same sequence throughout the match, changing server each time a rally is won by the receiving team.

Whenever a team fails to execute a legal service or to return the ball, or commits any other fault, the opposing team wins the rally, scores a point, and serves to start the following rally.


A match is the best of three sets.

A set (except the deciding third set) is won by the team which first scores 21 points with a minimum lead of two points. In the case of a 20-20 tie, play is continued until a two-point lead is achieved (22-20; 23-21; etc).

In the case of a 1-1 tie, the deciding third set is played to 15 points with a minimum lead of 2 points.

Teams switch ends of the court after every 7 points (set 1 and 2) and 5 points (set 3) played. When the total points are 21 (adding the score of both teams) there is a technical time out.


The ball may touch any part of the body (except during the serve, when only the hand or arm may make contact), but must be hit, not caught or thrown. During a hit, a player may only make contact with the ball once.

When receiving a ball from a hit that is not hard driven, the ball must be contacted ‘cleanly’. When receiving an opponent’s hard-driven attack, a double contact (provided both contacts occur in a single action) and/or a slight lift of the ball is allowed.

The differences between the rules of indoor volleyball and beach volleyball strongly affect tactics and techniques.

Block Signals

Beach volleyball players use hand signals (behind the back to hide them from the opposing team) to indicate the type of block they intend to make. They are usually given by the serving player’s partner prior to the serve. A player may also ‘wiggle’ or ‘flash’ one block signal to indicate which opponent to serve to.

If the server is the designated blocker, he or she may run up to the net to block after serving. Otherwise, the signaling player will perform the block.

Block signals may also be given during a rally while the opposing team is preparing their attack.



Field of Play

The playing court is a rectangle measuring 16 x 8m, divided by a net and surrounded by a free zone. For official competitions, the free zone is a minimum of 5m and a maximum of 6m from the end lines/side lines. The free playing space shall measure a minimum of 12.5m in height from the playing surface.

The net is 8.5m long and 1 m (+/- 3cm) deep when it is hung taut, placed vertically over the middle of the court. The top of the net is set at a height of 2.43m for men and 2.24m for women and this is made of 10cm square mesh.

The surface must be composed of levelled sand, as flat and uniform as possible, free of rocks, shells etc. and at least 40cm deep and composed of loosely compacted grains

Two side lines and two end lines mark the playing court. There is no centre line. Both side and end lines are placed inside the dimensions of the playing court.

Court lines should be 5cm wide ribbons of a contrasting colour to the sand and made of a resistant material, and any exposed anchors should be of a soft, flexible material.


The ball should be spherical, made of a flexible material (leather, synthetic leather, or similar) which does not absorb moisture. It should be of a light uniform colour or a combination of colours, with a circumference: 66 – 68cm and weighing 260 – 280g. All three balls used in a match must be the same.


A player’s equipment consists of shorts or a bathing suit with a jersey or “tank-top”. Players may wear a hat/head covering and sunglasses. Both players on a team must wear uniforms of the same colour and style and must play barefoot. Players’ jerseys must be numbered 1 and 2 on the chest (or on the front of the shorts). The number must be of a contrasting colour to the jersey and a minimum of 10cm in height.

Sport Jargon

Ace – When a serve hits the sand without the opponent touching it.

Block – When the player at the net jumps high in line with the opponents spike and plays or ‘blocks’ the ball directly back towards their opponents feet.

Dig – Using the forearms to pass the ball making a sturdy platform from which the ball rebounds. The dig is usually the first contact by a team when receiving serve and it is also used in defence.

Spike – This is the action that usually follows the ‘set’ when the ball is hit over the net.

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