The world came to know about a game called Beach Volleyball in the early 1920s when it was played at Santa Monica, California. Since then, the sport has been developing to become an international phenomenon. This game is now being played all across the world. We can term Beach Volleyball as the most exciting and popular beach sport in the world today.
The Olympic universe first saw beach volleyball during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Since 1996, there has been no looking back for the sport as it gained worldwide acceptance and popularity. After each match, spectators are left positively content with the all the thrill and action they get to see. Horse Guards Parade, a place close to Trafalgar Square, which is now being filled with sand weighing almost 3000 metric tonnes, will host Beach volleyball competition this time in the London Summer Olympics in 2012.
Beach volleyball and volleyball played indoors is different in two ways. Firstly, the turf is filled with sand and is an outdoor game. Secondly, there are two players in a team whereas the indoor version has six players.
The objective is simple — to ground your ball in your opponent’s court. After each serve, a team gets three shots to move the ball across the net towards the opposition. The ball used must weigh between 260 -280 grams. There are two referees to oversee a match. Three sets are needed to complete a match and 21 points are needed for winning a set. A very demanding game, beach volleyball requires strength, stamina, speed and exceptional navigational skills on a sandy turf. The players cannot be positively content if they do not fill any of these criterions.
The London Games will see 48 men and women playing for the medals. There are two medals – one for the men and one for the women. There will be a preliminary round where 24 teams from both the groups (men’s and women’s) play against each other. The top 16 teams will then move on to the knock-out phase. The top three countries from each group will advance automatically. There is a stage where four third ranked teams play two matches against each other. The winners advance to the qualifying stage. The semi-final winners eventually play for the title.
The teams to watch out for this Olympics will be the team of Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin (Great Britain). They are currently 37th in the world rankings. Their biggest rivals will be probably the greatest volleyball team ever comprising of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh (United States of America). They have the distinction of winning back to back Olympic gold.
The other countries to watch out for will be Australia, Netherlands, Russia, Austria and China.
Beach-volleyball is very technical where the margin for committing an offence is very thin. There have been instances where a player has been disqualified for a particular set. In such cases, the suffering team has no choice but to forfeit the set. On some rare occasions has a player been suspended for the entire match, forcing the team to forfeit the match. Therefore, there is no room for a player or a team to remain positively content and they must always be at the top of their game.