Sets and points
Matches are won with the best of three sets – i.e. the first team to two sets wins. In the first two sets, teams compete to be the first to score 21 points, but must have a two-point advantage over their opponent to win. If there’s a final tie-break set, the aim is to reach 15 points, again with a two-point advantage. There is no upper limit, so sets continue until one team has the requisite two-point advantage. Teams change ends every seven points in the first two sets and every five points in a tiebreak.
Serving the ball
The winner of the last point gets to serve, with players in a team alternating the serve if they retain possession after winning another point. Serves are made from behind the back line of the court, and players tend to use a technique known as a jump serve, rather than a traditional tennis-style serve. The server must get the ball into the opponent’s half in one shot.
Hitting the ball
When hitting the ball in beach volleyball, players aren’t allowed to grab hold of it, but must make a clean, quick hit. Teams have right to hit the ball three times in their half of the court – usually a receiving shot, a set-up and a final attacking shot – but players can’t hit the ball twice in a row, so have to pass the ball to each other if they’re preparing their attack.
The ball can touch the top of the net before hitting the ground on the other side, but this counts as a touch. If a player blocks a smash shot from an opponent, then he can touch the ball again to prevent it from hitting the ground, but this again counts as two shots. Players can even intrude into their opponents half, so long as they don’t impede play.