Beach volleyball

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Image:Men's beach volleyball.jpg
A beach volleyball game in progress.
Image:Beach Volleyball in Vancouver.jpg
Beach volleyball in Vancouver.

Beach volleyball has evolved from the popular social games of volleyball played on many beaches around the world. This version, rather than being played on indoor hard courts, is played on sand courts, which are either formed naturally or built specifically for the purpose. Many players, either by choice or by requirement of the rules, play the game barefoot. Instead of a team of six, each team consists of only two players, but otherwise the rules are almost identical with some exceptions including:

  • Each half of the court measures 8 by 8 meters, not 9 by 9 as in indoor volleyball
  • Overhand finger passes are called very tightly when receiving or attacking. Unless executed very cleanly and square to the shoulders, they are ruled illegal. The exception is receiving a hard smash.
  • The standard for double hits when using overhand finger passes and hand sets is much stricter than in indoor volleyball.
  • The block always counts as the first contact
  • The disallowance of the open-hand dink play where a player uses his or her finger tips to redirect the ball into the opponent's court.
  • It is legal to cross under the net as long as doing so does not interfere with the opponents' attempt to play the ball.


[edit] History

Image:Beach volleyball ball.jpg
Beach volleyball in sand

Beach volleyball started in Santa Monica, California in the 1920s. A decade later, beach volleyball began to appear in Europe. By the 1940s, two-man doubles tournaments were being played on the beaches of Santa Monica for trophies. In the 1960s, an attempt to start a professional volleyball league was made in Santa Monica. It failed, but a professional tournament was held in France for 30,000 French Francs. In the 1970s, a few professional tournaments in Santa Monica were sponsored by beer and cigarette companies.

While the history of beach volleyball is relatively lengthy, the sport (at the professional level) remained fairly obscure until the late 1990s and 2000s when beach volleyball experienced a great surge in popularity thanks to greater media exposure and the development of bonafide stars such as Kerri Walsh and Misty May, who are now well known throughout the world.

For decades, the two nations which have dominated international beach volleyball are Brazil and the United States. Recently, Australia has emerged as a distant third superpower, and all three of these nations have a reasonably well developed national touring system which typically takes place during the summer months. Furthermore, these are the only countries which have won a gold medal in an Olympic beach volleyball event since its debut at the 1996 Games. Specifically in the case of the more popular Women's event, each country has won once each, the Brazilians in 1996, the Australians in 2000, and the United States in 2004.

Other countries such as Greece, Germany, and China have developed a large and competitive following.

[edit] Hand signals

One of the facets of beach volleyball is the use of hand signals by players to indicate to their partner what sort of play they intend to make. These signals are made behind the back, to avoid the opposition seeing the signals. Most commonly the signals are given with both hands by the serving player's partner before the serve, with each hand referring to the type of block the signaler will put up against an attack from the corresponding side of the court. Occasionally, however, signals are given during a rally. Generally, a closed fist means the player will not attempt a block, one finger means the player will attempt to block an opponent's spike down the line, two fingers means the player will attempt to block an opponent's spike into the angle, and an open hand means the player will block "ball," deciding where to set the block based on the set and on the opponent's approach and arm-swing. Wiggling the fingers on one of the signalling hands indicates that the blocker wants his or her partner to serve the player on that side of the court. If the server is a stronger blocker, he or she may run up to the net to block after serving. In this case, the signals given by the server's partner tell the server what type of block to put up.

[edit] Beach volleyball in the Olympics

In 1996, beach volleyball became a separate Olympic event.

Most of the players representing the United States in the indoor Olympic Games were coming from the beaches of Southern California.

[edit] Famous players

Today Brazil is the ruling country in the FIVB, filling all of the first six positions of FIVB ranking: these include Emanuel Rego, Ricardo Santos, Marcio Araujo and others. US players typically don't compete in the FIVB, but rather play in the AVP, which holds tournaments only in the US. In North America, the biggest stars of beach volleyball are Kerri Walsh and Misty May, who are dubbed the sport's "Golden Couple". Other popular American players are Holly McPeak, Elaine Youngs, and Rachel Wacholder. International female stars include the Brazilian Ana Paula Connelly and Australian Kerri Pottharst. Overall, female beach volleyballers are generally more famous than their male counterparts, in addition to having equal and sometimes even larger prize money pools.

Beach volleyball is also a sport where increased attention is being paid to up-and-coming young stars, particularly the young Brazilian Carolina Solberg Salgado, who has won a gold medal in Under-18 and Under-21 FIVB tournaments two years in a row. In November 2005 at age 18, she became the youngest player to ever win a medal at a Senior level International Beach Volleyball event.

Even nations which do not even have a coastline have performed well in international beach volleyball, as the Czech duo of Sona Novakova and Eva Celbova are quite successful and popular in Europe.

The following is a list of well-known players in the United States:

[edit] Controversy

Australian competitor Renae Maycock wearing rather revealing bikini-style attire, which is common in Beach Volleyball.

Since its introduction as an Olympic sport in 1996, beach volleyball has been the target of a reasonable degree of criticism from some conservative groups as well as the governments of certain countries, particularly Islamic nations of the Middle East and South-East Asia.

Many of these people argue that beach volleyball, and particularly the female aspect of the game, is too sexualized to be considered a truly respectable sport. People have pointed out that professional beach volleyball is one of the few sports where female athletes are mandated to wear a uniform which does not exceed a certain size, essentially encouraging a "less is best" approach towards female attire, and argue that it is simply a ploy to market the game for viewership and sponsors.

In return, some people counter-argue that the sex appeal of beach volleyball is not entirely one-sided, as women also enjoy beach volleyball in order to watch fit and bare-chested men. Furthermore, they argue that the female attire of the women's pole vault and other track and field events at the Olympics is barely any more skin covering, and that only beach volleyball is unfairly singled out for criticism. (In the Olympics, only beach volleyball actually has a rule against wearing more.) There are also claims that the bikini attire is actually practical to the sport, since more loose clothing would hinder playing ability and professional tournaments often take place during the high heat of Summer. However, these claims do not account for the baggy shorts or sleeveless t-shirts worn by male players, and the fact that males are not required to go bare-chested or wear speedos.

The controversy of the sport hit a new high at the 2004 Olympics, when a DJ would play music clips between sets while female dancers in skimpy orange bikinis performed for the crowds. This and the requirement that women players wear more revealing clothing than the men led to accusations that the sport was less respectful than other Olympic events, with some columnists comparing it to a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue spread rather than pure athleticism. In any case, beach volleyball at the Athens Olympics was a massive success, and some critics point out that the controversy may have even helped the sport become more popular.

Surveys from the University of Klagenfurt have shown[citation needed] that the majority of male spectators at women's beach volleyball events enjoy looking at the attractive and scantily-clad players far more than the sporting action in itself, another observation that critics like to frequently point out.

[edit] Bossaball

Bossaball, a mix of beach volleyball, footvolley and gymnastics on a bouncy arena of trampolines and inflatables, is gaining popularity among beach volleyball players in Latin America and Western Europe.

[edit] External links

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