Tips & Tricks

Beach Volleyball Tips & Tricks

This section provides beginners with the most important vocabulary and hand signals.

1. Vocabulary
Beach volleyball has its own language. Here is the most important beach volleyball vocabulary:

Cross Court Shot:  individual attack directed at an angle from one end of the offensive team’s side to the opposite sideline of the defensive team’s court

Cut: short and extremely diagonal ball along the net

Double Elimination: Tournament mode in which a team is eliminated after their second defeat

Fake Block: „faked“ block where the blocker pulls off the net when the opposing team hits the ball. If a block is not faked but the blocker leaves the net early it is called a “Drop”

Joust: two opposing players simultaneously attempting to play a ball above the net

Kill: attack that terminates a rally and results in an immediate point or sideout

Let serve: serve that contacts the net and continues over to the opposing side; now a legal play.

Line Shot: “longline” ball over or outside the block

One-Two-Barbecue: means losing two games in a row in a double elimination tournament

Poke Shot: a ball played with the knuckles of the index and middle finger

Roll Shot: when the attacker does not swing all the way through the ball, but still snaps causing the ball to roll forward over the net and drop quickly

Sideout: winning the point and the serving right after receiving

Spike: ball contacted with force by an offense player who intends to end play on the opponent’s floor or off the opponent’s blocker; also called a hit or attack

Timeout: 30 second interruption both teams can request once per set


2. Hand Signals
Communication between players from the same team is key. There is of course verbal communication but sometimes the exchanges between partners have to be more discreet. For example, it probably isn’t in a team’s best interest to openly communicate where the ball will be served, but that’s definitely useful information. In those cases, hand signals are used. The signals are generally made behind the back to hide them from the opposing team and are given with both hands by the serving player’s partner prior to the serve. They can be distinguished in blocking and serving hand signals.

Especially at more advanced levels one player blocks and the other one defends. In order to non-verbally communicate how the blocker intends to block there are blocking hand signals. In beach volleyball only one player blocks since otherwise it would be easy to simply play over the block. The blocker can only block a certain part of the court, therefore it is key to let his teammate know where he plans to block and where the ball could still go. Prior to serving it is agreed upon which part of the court is blocked. The signals are generally made behind the back to hide them from the opposing team and are given with both hands by the non-serving player prior to the serve. Each hand refers to the block type that the players will set on the corresponding side of the court. For example, if the non-serving player signals two fingers on the left side of his body, that means he plans to block “angle” on the left side of the court. In that case the defender knows that „longline“ is open for hard shots and that only soft tactical attacks can come over the block.


These are the most common blocking signals:


One finger: The blocker plans to block the opponent’s line attack. The defender needs to defend hard “angle” shots and “longline” attacks over the block.

Two fingers: The blocker plans to block an opponent’s “angle” attack, the defender needs to block hard „longline“ shots and „angle“ attacks over the block.

Open hand: The blocker plans to fully match up with the hitter, deciding where to block based on and the hitter’s approach and arm swing.

Closed fist (Fake Block): No block should be attempted for the opponent on that side of the court. The player at the net has no intention of putting up any sort of block, instead they pull off the net when the opposing team hits the ball and will attempt to play defensive.

Pinky and index (Spread-Block): The blocker tries to block both „line“ and „angle“ by spreading both arms.


Beach Volleyball hand signals

Hand signals


At more advanced levels also serving hand signals are used to provide information about the serve. When the non-serving partner wants to indicate a location for the server, he will wiggle or flash a signal on the side of the court to which he would like their partner to serve. For example, if the blocker wants the serve to go to the right side of the court, then he will put the flashing signal on the right side of his body. By adjusting the height of the hand signals, very individual information on the length of a serve can be communicated. This type of communication helps both partners to be prepared for the upcoming rally.

You will find futher instructive information in the Beach Volleyball Blog.

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