There is one main beach event organised annually for students - the Volleyball England Student Beach Cup, and there are numerous other tournaments held over the summer season.
Sadly, we don't have a beach court in Oxford yet, but if you'd like some practice you can try joining our twos' ladder, where matches are played outdoors on grass (using beach rules).
Student Beach Cup
Normally held on a weekend towards the end of May, the Student Beach Cup is an annual event open to pairs from UK universities (both players must study at the same uni). There is also usually a mixed fours event held on the second day. The location of the tournament changes most years, with previous events having been held in Brighton (2007), Margate (2008), and Bournemouth (2009).
Despite there no longer being a beach court in Oxford, our pairs have been highly successful - Hannah Ruddick & Jana Orszaghova won the ladies competition in 2009, the Oxford fours team finished 2nd in 2008 and 2009.
Guide to Beach Volleyball
Beach volleyball is an almost entirely different game to indoor. For a start, there are only two players on a team and you use a different ball, and here are some other key rules:
- Best of three sets, rally point scoring to 21 points in sets 1 & 2, 15 in set 3 (all sets by two clear points).
- Smaller court, 8m x 16m.
- Change ends every 7 points, every 5 in set 3.
- Only one 30 second timeout per set.
- A player may not complete an attacking hit by directing the ball with the fingers i.e. no tipping with an open hand (but knuckles or fists are permitted).
- The block counts as a touch, and when both teams contact the ball above the net, it's called a joust and both teams have three more touches.
- Any player may play the second touch after a block attempt.
- Any sets over the net must be played perpendicular to the shoulders (including reverse sets).
- Sets, which accidentally go over the net (due to the wind etc), which have been played to the hitter, are also allowed.
- There is no centre or attack line.
- Screening (even with one player) is not allowed, the opposition can ask you to move before involving the referee.
- When two team mates touch the ball simultaneously, it is counted as two hits.
You can find a fuller version of the rules on the FIVB website, or read them here: FIVB Beach Rules and diagrams.
One more aspect of the game that is not used indoors - hand signals. This explanation is taken from Exmouth Beach Volleyball's website (who have a nice section explaining various parts of beach volleyball). The most commonly used hand signals are:
- One finger pointing down - Means line block.
- Two fingers pointing down - Means cross court block.
- Closed fist - Means no block on that player.
- Open hand - Means block the ball and you defend around my block.
- Shaking a hand or finger - Means serve at this player.