• The beach volleyball at the Rio Olympic Games starts on August 6 (AAP)Source: AAP
What’s better than a day at the beach? Chucking some highly entertaining, highly athletic sport in there, that’s what!
Erin Byrnes

Zela, SportSister
4 Aug 2016 - 8:44 AM  UPDATED 4 Aug 2016 - 9:41 AM

Beach Volleyball became an Olympic medal event at the 1996 Atlanta Games. As far as Olympic sports go, it’s a damn popular one with spectators due the party atmosphere and loud music.

Plus it’s being held on the world famous Copacabana Beach... 


Basic rules

The main objective is to stop the ball hitting the ground anywhere on your side while trying to make it hit the ground on your opponent’s side of the court. Pretty easy, right? The tactics do get more complex, but that’s all you really need to know to get you through.

Teams of two players seek to ground the ball in the opponent’s half or make their opponents hit the ball out of bounds.

Both teams have three touches to return the ball, and neither player can take consecutive touches.  The players can use any part of their body to hit the ball, they just can’t catch or throw it.

Matches are played in a best-of-three-sets format. The first two sets are the first to 21 points, though a two-point lead is needed to win, and in the deciding set it is first to 15.

The players change sides every seven points, or every five in the third set and the two players rotate serve.

We’re good at it, right?

Australia has a pretty solid history in the sport, and while we won’t go in as heavy favourites, there’s a good chance we could pinch a medal.

We’ve qualified two teams - Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy make up one, and Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar comprise the other.

Doubles trouble: Australia qualifies two beach volleyball teams
It’s not too often you get a second chance at something, but beach volleyball pair Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar have grabbed theirs with both hands.
Gold diggers: Life is beachy for Rio-bound volleyball pair Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy
Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy have officially been named as Australia’s beach volleyball representatives at the Rio Olympic Games.

Jargon buster

Husband and wife - When a serve is sent straight down the middle of the two opponents, in the hope of causing indecision between the pair.

Roof - A block that sends the spiked effort back down towards the opponent’s feet, giving them no chance of recovering it.

Dink - A shot played softly with the fingertips or knuckle, that either loops over an opponent’s block or lands without pace in an open space in the opponent’s court. Similar to a drop shot in tennis.

Tomahawk - An emergency defensive shot where both hands are used to hit the ball high above the head.

A not-so-fun-fact

In 1999 the FIVB deemed that female players had to wear bikinis. The decision proved controversial with some players, who argued the move was taken simply to make the sport sexy.

For Rio 2016, the players are permitted to wear less revealing uniforms such as shorts and short sleeved tops.


Competition kicks off straight away, with the first matches taking place on August 6.

Olympic history

Kerri Pottharst and Natalie Cook won Australia’s first ever Olympic volleyball medal when they claimed bronze in Atlanta. Four years later in Sydney, Pottharst and Cook won the gold medal before thousands of hometown fans on Bondi Beach. In London 2012, Cook became the first Australian woman to compete at five Olympic Games.

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This guide was put together with help from sportsister.com