Water or aquatic volleyball: everything you need to know to play in your pool

Having a pool is great but after a while, things can get stale and you might want to switch things up. Playing pool volleyball in it can be a new challenge that gets everyone hyped to give it a try. It can be even quite cheap and easy to get started. Water, aquatic or pool volleyball are all synonyms for the same sport. Your friends will be jealous when they see the Instagram stories of you in the pool having fun. Let’s dive in (pun not intended). 

Pool volleyball rules: the basics

The same rules apply as in indoor volleyball. There are in general 1 to 4 players per team. It is not allowed to touch the ball twice during the same attack. A maximum of 3 touches per attack are allowed per attack. It is not allowed to hold the ball in your hands. The goal is to drop the ball in the court of the other team and when it hits the water, you score a point. There are 25 points per set and the first team that wins 2 sets (women) or 3 sets (men), is the winner. It is not allowed to touch the net and this will result in a point for the other team. If the ball goes outside the court, the other team gets a point. It is allowed to touch the ball with your head or feet. You have to work together as a team in both offense and defense.

In offense we have:

  • You are also serving. This means that you hold the ball with one hand and push it over the net with the other hand (this can be both overhand and underhand).
  • Spiking: This is pushing the ball over the net. Typically this is done by the players that stand just behind the net to make it easier
  • Setting: this is giving an assist to the player that is going to spike.

In defense we have:

  • Blocking: this is stopping the ball at the net. This is done by holding the hands up behind the net.
  • Digging: this is trying to retreive the ball after the other team has attacked. The goal is to control the ball and pass it to the setter.

If you use 3 ball touches, you can control the ball and build up the attack. You can use fewer touches but this makes your attack more predictable. Volleyball is a team sport and you should work together with the other members of your team. You can’t do everything on your own. It is essential that you communicate well with the members of your team so that they know that you are going to pass to them.

We have discussed pool designs before. Let’s take a look at nets below.

 Pool volleyball system: get started immediately with this kit

Gosport offers a full set with everything that you need to play pool volleyball. From balls to a pump to inflate them and even the net is included. What I like about their system is that the net is adjustable in width. You can slide it in and out based on the dimensions of your pool. This means that it works with round and square pools as long as it is not wider than 15 feet. The feet are filled with water so that the nets stand stable even if you hit it with a ball. You shouldn’t hang on the net as it can’t handle too much weight. You can add dirt over the feet if needed but don’t expect it to be too stable anyway.

It is easy to remove the net once you are done playing. A pet peeve of mine is a net that sags. In the system of Gosport, they have made sure that the net is straight and it shouldn’t sag too much. 

The net also has a special coating so that it doesn’t discolor by the sun or water. Some nets are not able to deal with water and chlorine and break down quite fast after you have played with them for a while.

It is not possible to adjust the height of the net. You can add supports under the poles if you want to increase the net height but this can make them less stable. Some pieces are also made out of plastic so they might break after a while. This net should last a season and after that you will probably have to get a new one.

The previously mentioned system won’t work for some pools as they are too wide or oddly shaped. That is why I like the system of Crossnet. The poles float and this makes it easier to install. No need to install weights or digging poles in the ground. The foam makes sure that the net floats. Granted, the net can obstruct your game if you want to play traditional volleyball instead of 4-way volleyball but this is a trade-off of this system. Given the decent price for this net, I would recommend it if you have a hard time installing a normal net in your pool.

Not a lot of people have played 4-way volleyball and it can be a great activity for beginning players but also for advanced volleyball players. You can use it for the whole family. The net also has specific safety features that come in handy. Some people get too excited when they play pool volleyball and this net makes sure that nothing can happen because of this. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone brings down a net and the weights because they are overly eager to push the ball over the net.

If you plan to play often and need a permanent system, you will have to look at aluminum or stainless steel poles. These make it easy to slide a net in and out of them and you can adjust the height of the net as well. You might have to use concrete to stabilize these poles. Make sure that you don’t dig too close to your pool or you can create leakages. Furthermore, a stable net is needed, this is often made out of kevlar. It is possible to find nets in different sizes and shapes. Therefore it can be quite straightforward to install your own permanent pool volleyball net. This system can cost you more than 1000 USD and is not for everyone. Let’s take a look at some cheaper alternatives for people that only want to play once.

Want to play only once: get a cheap pool volleyball net for beginners

You might find the system of GoSports too expensive, especially if you only plan to play once or twice. Inflatable nets are a great solution in that situation. Just use a pump to get started. The system below is quite small and more meant to be used by beginning players but it could work if you plan to play for a short period of time. Don’t expect too much of it but the net can give some indication if you are hitting the ball high enough or not. It is more a throwaway solution for a party or an afternoon of fun. Inflatables are also not able to withstand the sun that well so it will probably leak quite soon. Some people want to give pool volleyball a try before committing to a more expensive set and this can be a great way to test the waters.

It works in a lot of pools so even if you have a weirdly shaped pool, you can get started with this net. 

Balls for pool volleyball

You can just use a standard plastic ball to play beach volleyball. Don’t use an indoor volleyball as these have not been designed to deal with water and will break soon. You need a waterproof ball, such as the one below. Volleyball players will like it if you get a ball that follows the official rules as they are used to playing with this. The ball of Botabee below is following these official rules. They also use a special fabric to reduce the sting of playing volleyball. This is great as a lot of new players hate this annoying feeling. 

This ball floats in the water so it is easy to retrieve after a team has scored a point. It also uses a special material so that the ball doesn’t get too slippery when it is wet. This makes it harder to control the ball and leads to longer rallies and more exciting matches.  

The ball is shipped flat so you will have to find a pump to inflate it. Other balls also have brighter colors and this can make it easier to recognize them. Especially when the sun is in your eyes, a bright color can help you to spot the ball more easily. 

The ball below is quite affordable so it might be a good idea to get one if you plan to play beach volleyball. A lot of balls don’t offer enough grip and can be frustrating to play with. 

To conclude, we can state that pool volleyball is a lot of fun and the equipment is very affordable. Most people only play this once or twice and buying expensive equipment can overdo it. Therefore you have to think about how often you will play pool volleyball before you buy the equipment.