How to play beach volleyball: from beginner to professional player

Beach volleyball is becoming more popular. More and more players are going from indoor volleyball teams to beach volleyball. Given that beach volleyball is only played with 2 players per team, individual skills are more important. Let’s go over the different levels in beach volleyball and how you can evolve to the next one.

RecBeginner, no skills
B Knows the basics but makes a lot of mistakes
BBCan follow the official rules, quite proficient at defending and attacking
ACan aim precisely and block the ball
AAVery advanced players. Perfect technique. Long rallies

Beach volleyball levels

Beach volleyball players are categorized based on different skill levels. This makes sure that it is fun and challenging for everyone to play. There are only two players per team and if one person is not able to keep up, the matches won’t be very balanced. The good news is that you can get better and level up over time. Let’s a look at the different levels to get a better idea of what is required:

Photo by Josh Duke on Unsplash

Rec, also called C or D level:

These are recreational players. It are beginners that are just getting to know volleyball. They are not aware of the five main volleyball skills and are therefore not really able to control a ball. They play under less strict rules (for example, more than 3 touches per team are allowed for each attack).

People often do this just for fun and to meet new friends. They will annoy players that have more experience as they don’t know the rules and might touch the net during a match.

Therefore these players are often kept separately from the more advanced players. There are often courses for these players to show them the basics of beach volleyball (set, serve, block, spike). It can take several months to master these and until they do, players have to remain in this rec category. They have to develop their defensive and offensive skills if they want to level up.

Advanced beginner or B level:

These players know the basic skills but still, have to refine their technique. They can score from time to time but still have to become more consistent and make quite a lot of mistakes. They are trying to work with 3 touches per attack, making it more in line with official rules.

Players are often in this stage after 4-6 months of consistent practice. Finding a player that wants to train and grow with you is essential at this stage as you still have to practice the basics. This can only be done through a lot of repetition. We discussed some volleyball drills before that can help with this.

This might be quite mundane but once you get great at these skills, you can really start to level up. Indoor volleyball players are often great at one or two skills and might have to improve at some of these to become great beach volleyball players. In indoor volleyball, you can often focus on offense or defense. In beach volleyball, you have to do both and this can take quite some time to adjust to if you are not used to this.

Players at this level often can’t block and use underhand serve to restart the game.

High Intermediate or BB:

These players are quite consistent and can follow the official volleyball rules. They will drop the ball from time to time but in general, they are quite consistent. they master the basic skills and can use these to defend and attack quite effectively.

Most players are stuck at this level and it is only by a consistent effort that they can level up. This takes a lot of time and most players are not dedicated enough to do this as you will need a coach and have to practice several days per week.

There is always more to learn, let’s take a look at some ideas to get better:

This is where most indoor volleyball players start given that they still need to learn the nuances of beach volleyball. The team dynamics are completely different and if you are not used to this, you might need some time to adjust. The court is also slightly smaller and the ball is slightly heavier than in indoor volleyball.

Competitive or A level:

These players are very serious and want to win every set. This can result in spectacular dives in the sand. These players still make quite some mistakes that professional players wouldn’t make so their game is definitely not perfect but they won’t make basic mistakes anymore. This is the most common level during tournaments and sometimes you can play against other clubs at this level.

Matches generally take more than 30 minutes as both teams are able to keep a rally going for quite some time on this level. It can take more than two years before beginners can attain this level. Indoor volleyball players with a lot of experience should get here in a few months. Most bigger clubs and high schools have teams that play at this level.

The aim of the players at this level is better and they can attack more efficiently. From time to time they can block the ball as well.

Open or AA level:

This is often the highest level that you can find in a club and some clubs even don’t have players that are this advanced. Not a lot of players are able to attain this level as the players almost make no mistakes anymore at this level. The rallies are very competitive and contested. It can take more than 5 years for a beginner to get here and he or she will need a lot of coaching to be able to do this.

Players are using jump serves at this level and their technique is flawless. They can also block the ball and keep the ball in play after this. In general, players at this level can also score from quite a distance.

Professional level:

Beach volleyball has become an Olympic sport only quite recently. There are quite a lot of international tournaments but not that many countries have a national competition. This also is related to the fact that a warmer climate is needed to practice this sport outdoors. Not a lot of people are dedicated enough to become pro players. It can take years of playing for no money at all.

It can be difficult to find a team member that fits your playing style. Some players keep switching up their team. No one is going to be perfect and sometimes you just need to give it some time. The most successful beach volleyball players stuck with the same partner for several years. Kerri Walsch, one of the most famous professional beach volleyball players worked together with the same player for a long time. Let’s take a look at some of her best moments:

It has to be noted that not a lot of volleyball players were able to win both an Olympic medal for indoor volleyball and beach volleyball. This could indicate that it is quite difficult to switch between both disciplines. In the coming years, we can expect that more players will be successful at this as beach volleyball is becoming more popular.

To conclude, we can state that there are several levels in beach volleyball to keep the teams balanced. This is a sport that is only played with two people and therefore both players need to be at the same level. A lot of people want to play at a level that is too high for their skill level in a club. This often leads to frustration as the other team feels that they are being tricked. Luckily, there are a lot of competitions and weaker players get weeded out quite fast.