Is beach volleyball harder than indoor volleyball? (answered)

It is hard to give a hard yes or no answer as it depends on the circumstances. Beach volleyball doesn’t have as many players on the field so you will have to touch the ball more often. Furthermore, the field is smaller and the ball is bigger so you have to aim with more precision. Sand can be flying around, the sun might block your vision and other obstacles might interrupt the game.

On the other hand, indoor volleyball can be more tactical and teams can work together to form a very solid block that is hard to beat. So both beach volleyball and indoor volleyball have their own unique elements that both make it hard to play. It depends on the experience and the personal preferences of a player to say which one is more difficult. You can have long discussions about why one is more difficult than the other. We will summarize the main points in this article. 

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Why beach volleyball is harder than indoor volleyball

Beach volleyball is often played with fewer players on the field. This means that you don’t have time to rest and have to be engaged the whole time. If you are not used to this, it can be quite intense. Sand also makes it harder to run and get the ball. This underground is also less stable and this can make things more unpredictable as your foot can move just before you have to make a move.

In beach volleyball, you have more distractions. From the sun that can interfere with your vision, the ball that can change the trajectory of the ball to hard objects in the sand. All of these can make it harder to focus on the game itself. Indoor volleyball fields are often clean and don’t contain a lot of things that can distract you. 

It is played rain or shine. During the finals of the Olympics in Brazil, the final was being played when it was pouring down. This affects the ball control and how fast you can run on the court. Players had to be able to deal with these changing circumstances. This can be hard as players often don’t have a lot of experience playing volleyball in the rain.

Let’s take a look at some of the scenes of this final in the rain.

The clothes that are worn in beach volleyball are often more skimpy. This can be annoying if you are not used to it. Indoor volleyball gear can ride up but beach volleyball is also not that comfortable and can distract players. 

In indoor volleyball, every player has a specific function and focus. Some players focus on offense or defense. They can really specialize in this and pay less attention to other skills. In official beach volleyball matches, there are only two players per team. This pushes them to take up both offensive and defensive roles. For indoor volleyball players, this can take quite some time to adjust to if they switch to beach volleyball.  

The playing field in beach volleyball is smaller and therefore you have to aim more precisely. If you are used to applying a lot of force to the volleyball, you will hit the ball out of the field and won’t score any points. Therefore it can take quite some time to get adjusted to the new field size. 

Why indoor volleyball is harder than beach volleyball

There is a reason that indoor players wear knee pads. When you land, you can touch the ground quite hard. Therefore you have to be careful when you dig (or dive to get a ball). Furthermore, when people sweat a lot indoor volleyball terrains can get quite slippery. This means that you have to dry off your shoes and make sure that you don’t slip and slide over wet spots. This can limit the intensity that you can play with as you have to be aware of this during a game.

Let’s take a look at some indoor volleyball scenes:

There are quite a lot of players on the field and everyone has their role. You also have to take the libero into account. All these players have a unique playing style that you have to consider and adjust your actions to. Furthermore, you have to be able to communicate with them verbally and non verbally to indicate what your intentions are. This can be challenging as you are using several strategies and have to pass at the right person. When you are playing in a team, you also have to deal with egos and personal relations. This can be hard to do as there are a lot of players on the team and everyone can have a conflict. Being able to get along with everyone is very important if you want to be a great volleyball player. In beach volleyball, the teams are a lot smaller and for people that have bad social skills, it can be easier to thrive in that type of environment as you don’t have to deal with the team dynamics.

In indoor volleyball, you often have supporters that make noises and can distract or discourage you if you are touching the ball. For some players, this can have an impact on how they play as they are not used to the loud noises that are being made by these spectators. This can be quite impressive at first. 

In indoor volleyball, you have to follow the rotation. Everyone has to be in position at all times as you can get a position fault otherwise. Having to deal with the rotation and finding the right position while you are playing can be a challenge. A lot of newer players are struggling with this as you have to pay attention to the ball and also where your team members are standing on the court. This can be quite confusing at first and takes quite some time to get used to.  Indoor volleyball is very strategic, therefore it is essential that you pay attention to where your team members are standing.

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The matches in indoor volleyball often last longer as there can be a lot of back-and-forths. Rallies can take a long time and be very intense. Especially for the liberos, this can take up a lot of energy. Matches last longer than one hour and players can be exhausted after a while. It is at this point that the best athletes shine. It is easy to perform when you are just starting out but having to push when you are tired, is not something that a lot of people are able to do. Indoor volleyball is also very fast-paced and can be played faster than beach volleyball as people in the same team can pass to each other. 

Beach volleyball is still quite new and it has fewer players competing in it. The best players often pick indoor volleyball as there are more clubs available. You need a decent climate to be able to play volleyball outdoors and not a lot of countries have this. This makes it hard for a lot of people to train for beach volleyball and reduces the pool of talent.

Which one is harder?

As you might have gathered from the previous information, the answer is not that black and white. It depends on a lot of factors such as what the players like the most, with what they have the most experience, their playing style, and so on. Beach volleyball is still quite new so not a lot of players have a lot of experience with it. It also can’t be played year-round in colder climates or rainy seasons so players often have less experience with it. Most volleyball players will probably state that beach volleyball is harder as they haven’t spent as much time mastering it. In some countries, such as Brazil beach popular is more popular than indoor volleyball and there you might hear the opposite answer. You will have to try both and see for yourself which one of the two you find harder to play. Some cities are installing beach volleyball terrains as well so the sport is becoming more popular and it gets easier to play. 

To conclude, we can say that both beach volleyball and indoor volleyball have their own unique elements. Beach volleyball can be harder as you have a smaller field and fewer players. This can lead to having to touch the ball a lot, which can be a challenge if you are still working on your ball-handling technique. Indoor volleyball on the other hand is played with more players and then you have to take the team dynamics into account. For example, you have to make sure that you communicate well with the other players so that they know what you are going to do or expect from them. It depends on the playing style and experience of the player to say which one of the two is the most difficult. Most players start with indoor volleyball and only later start playing beach volleyball. Since they are used to the rules of indoor volleyball, they might need quite some time to get used to how beach volleyball is played and therefore might find it harder to play.

It is remarkable that only one player was able to win gold medals in the Olympics for indoor volleyball and beach volleyball. This indicates that it can be challenging to switch from one discipline to the other. Karch Kiraly is an absolute legend for this reason. He remarks that both types of volleyball have their own challenges.