The Discipline of Beach Volleyball & the History

The discipline of beach volleyball

getimagecaqmu2hsBeach Volleyball is one of the two Olympic disciplines under the authority of the FIVB and it is played outdoors, barefoot on a sand court with a ball, by teams of two people separated by a net. Beach Volleyball was born in the Southern California beaches in the late twenties and enjoyed a rapid international expansion thanks to FIVB development programs, committed Partners, Promoters, Hosting National Volleyball Federations, Officials, and professional athletes, for the enjoyment of millions of fans and thousands of participating players throughout the world.

111Beach Volleyball is an outstanding entertaining healthy and drug-free sport, attracting upwardly mobile, affluent, and fashion conscious audiences oriented towards an active lifestyle.

With its low costs to set up and play, it is ideal for development programs and ‘sport for-all’ initiatives, as well as having an educational value being a non-contact sport, requiring a harmonious blend of body, will and mind – fitness, stamina, tactics and team play.

continentalcup_pg22For their part, the FIVB, the Confederations and the National Volleyball Federations are accountable for developing every year broad Beach Volleyball programs and activities in their territories (e.g. Continental Cup & FIVB Beach Volleyball World Cup, Junior World competitions, Intercontinental events, Continental Championships, National team programs, National Tours, registration of athletes, etc.) and to train their local officials (referees, court personnel, etc.). Promoters, together with National Federations, have an important role to ensure the proper promotion and organization of each event.

img_3043The introduction of new rules (i.e. smaller court, rally scoring, net serve continuation, etc.) also launched the sport into a new era making it more exciting and maintaining spectators’ interest. Furthermore, the realization of a successful television, marketing and promotional campaign on local and International scales during the last years strongly increased the exposure of the sport worldwide and developed a quality pro.

The History of beach volleyball

early-beach-volleyball-in-hawaiiThe first recorded Beach Volleyball games took place on the beaches of Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Outrigger Canoe Club. Originally designed to give bored surfers something to do when the surf was down, the game quickly developed into more organized six-man matches. In the 1920s, Beach Volleyball was introduced on the Californian beaches of Santa Monica, about 25 years after the indoor version of the game was invented on the other side of the USA in Massachusetts. This discipline has soared to a multi-million dollar extravaganza and an Olympic sport that has captivated players in more than 150 countries.


The sport began as a form of family fun at the beach and its wide appeal and low-cost meant it soon spread around the world. The success of the sport was soon evident even in places like Palavas, Lacanau and Royan (France), Riga (Latvia), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Prague (Czechoslovakia).

The sport was given a boost during the Great Depression. Cash strapped Americans assembled at the beaches to play in what was virtually a no-cost pastime and a free source of entertainment. By the 1950s, competitions were being held in California. Included on the program were beauty contests and other forms of entertainment.

FIVB World Tour Promo 2009USA and Brazil then played a major role in transforming “Beach” into a professional sport in the 1970s and 1980s but it was the hard work of the FIVB President Dr. Rubén Acosta and Beach Volleyball stars such as Sinjin Smith, Karch Kiraly and Randy Stoklos that helped establish Beach Volleyball internationally in the 1980s and 1990s.

FIVB World Tour Promo 2010Since then, with the first international competition "The World Championships" in Rio de Janeiro, followed by the first edition of the World Tour (host: Brazil, Italy and Japan) in 1989, recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 1993, and Beach Volleyball became a full medal sport at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

beijingAt the same time the FIVB Beach Volleyball international circuit evolved from the World Series to the World Tour and exploded in popularity in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

2000-2004-2008 – Beach Volleyball became a big hit at the Olympic Games. While the FIVB Swatch World Tour is continuously growing and has established itself as an elite Beach Volleyball property, in 2010, FIVB was proud to launch officially, the Continental Cup and FIVB Beach Volleyball World Cup to develop the sport worldwide and to open doors to the Olympic dream for more NFs.


Year In brief
2011 A successful edition of FIVB World Championships is held in the heart of Rome, at the spectacular Foro Italico stadium with 10`000 spectators for the final matches. Champions crown is won by Emanuel-Alison from Brazil for the men competition and by Larissa-Juliana from Brazil for the women competition.

Within the new re-branding of the FIVB, a Hero Campaign is launched with the focus on the athletes as the centre of attention and stars of Beach Volleyball.

The FIVB World Tour, with 16 Women and 14 Men stops on the tour, start counting for the Olympic Qualification towards the 2012 Olympic Games.

Beach Volleyball Continental Cup continues as a big success, and the Zonal Phase of the competition is completed in most Confederations qualifying countries for the Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Finals to be held in 2012.
2010 The FIVB Continental Cup, a new Olympic qualifying process for the London 2012 Games is launched, offering countries another route to the four-yearly tournament. The sub-zonal continental phase begins ahead of the zonal phase and the Continental Cup finals in 2011 and 2012.

The 2010 Men’s World Tour is won by AmericansTodd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser winning Grand Slam events in Rome, Gstaad, Kagenfurt and Stare Jablonki along the way. It was the first time the US duo won the title as well as the first time a pair from the United States clinched top spot since 1992.

The women’s edition is picked up by Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta and Larissa França for the fifth time in six years. Except for USA’s Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor’s victory in 2002, Brazil have won every edition of the tour since 1994.
2009 The FIVB unveils a dynamic “gladiator-style” visual for the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Tour. The innovative visual brilliantly encapsulates the drama, excitement and powerful image of Beach Volleyball by focusing on two of the stars of the sport captured in spectacular action poses in front of a fan-packed coliseum.

The 2009 Men's SWATCH FIVB World Tour is won by Germany's Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann who picked up their share of the USD 7.7 million prize money that was spread across the season. They also won the SWATCH FIVB World Championship in Stavanger, Norway rounding out a successful first year for the team.

Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca won the women's Tour, and maintained Brazil's grip on the competion whilst USA's Jen Kessy and April Ross were victorious at the Women's SWATCH FIVB World Championship following in the footsteps of fellow Americans and former champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.
2008 The fourth Olympic Beach Volleyball competition at Beijing 2008 again sees 24 women’s and 24 men’s teams competing against each other, this time over 14 days (after six continuous days in Atlanta, 10 days in Sydney and 12 in Athens) of action-packed fun on the sand. There are a total of 108 matches, comprising 54 men’s and 54 women’s. The 12,000-seat Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground is the stunning venue for the Olympic Beach Volleyball tournaments.

The SWATCH FIVB World Tour sees a record USD 8.325 million distributed in prize money and bonus pool money. There are six Grand Slam events, 16 double-gender events, five men’s single-gender events and four women’s single-gender events.

The FIVB and SWATCH renew their Beach Volleyball sponsorship agreement, extending until 2012. SWATCH will be the official time-keeper and title sponsor of the 2009-2012 SWATCH FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Championships in Stavanger, the 2011 World Championships and the yearly Junior and Youth World Championships.

The FIVB and IMG Sports Media, the sports production and distribution division of IMG Worldwide, announce a four-year partnership, commencing in 2009, which will see IMG Sports Media exclusively distributing key FIVB tournaments worldwide as well as acting as the official audio-video media rights and event consultant and TV coordination agency of the FIVB.

Stavanger, the Norwegian host of many Open and Grand Slam World Tour events in the past 10 years, is named as the venue for the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Championships presented by ConocoPhillips.

2007 The 2007 SWATCH FIVB World Championships powered by 1to1 energy in the mountain resort of Gstaad, Switzerland, are a huge success, proving that Beach Volleyball can be played not just by the sea. Tens of thousands flock to the weeklong USD 1 million event.
2005 -The SWATCH FIVB World Tour features 31 events, including 16 stops for women and 15 for men, in five continents. A total of USD 7.28 million in Prize Money and Bonus Pool.

-The SWATCH FIVB Men’s and Women’s World Championships in Berlin, Germany have USD 1 million prize money on offer. The event is held in downtown Berlin through June 21-26 with the best 48 men’s and 48 women’s teams competing for the world crown. USA’s Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh claim the women’s gold and Brazil’s Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes the men’s gold.


- A landmark season for Beach Volleyball sees 26 scheduled tournaments (14 men’s and 12 women’s events) in five continents with a total of USD 5.3 million in Prize Money and Bonus Pool and more than 750,000 spectators.

- The Athens Olympics sees 24 men’s and women’s teams from five continents compete for 12 days. TV ratings are the best in the history of Beach Volleyball. The stunning stadium at Faliro Complex holds 10,000 spectators and displays two giant video walls providing live feeds. For the first time at the Games, an entertainment programm is implemented with 12 dancers, DJs and Production Mananers creating an electric atmosphere.

2003 - Swatch becomes the international title sponsor of the World Tour.
- The SWATCH FIVB World Tour begins to include as “Grand Slam” events each carrying USD 600,000 in Prize Money and Bonus Pool.
-The FIVB World Championships presented by SWATCH returns to Rio de Janerio, Brazil, with USD 800,000 prize money and the top 48 men’s and 48 women’s teams from five continents. TV distribution reaches more than 200 countries with over 100,000 spectators and 200 accredited media journalists. USA’s Kerri Walsh and Misty May claim women’s gold, with Brazil’s Ricardo and Emanuel taking men’s gold.
2001 More than 120,000 spectators attend five days of competition at the World Championships at the lakeside in Klagenfurt, Austria.
2000 Sydney Olympics: Beach Volleyball becomes a smash hit at Bondi Beach with 180,000 spectators and millions of TV viewers.
1999 The Men and Women's World Championships are organised in Europe for the first time, in Marseille, France. The event distributes USD 600,000 in prize money and is held in a special facility for 5,000 spectators. By the end of the competition the total number of spectators reaches nearly 50,000. Brazil’s Shelda and Adriana Behar take women’s gold while compatriots José Loiola and Emanuel win men’s gold.
Beach volleyball is included for the first time in the Pan American Games, which are held in Canada.
1997 There are 22 FIVB World Tour tournaments with USD 3,900,000 in prize money and FIVB bonus pool.
Ericsson and Nike present the Men's and Women's Beach Volleyball World Championships at the UCLA Campus in Los Angeles, USA. Both genders are rewarded equally with a total of USD 600,000 in prize money. The event is broadcast in more than 120 countries.
1996 Beach Volleyball makes its first appearance (a hugely successful sell-out) at the Atlanta Olympic Games.

International Olympic Committee decides to include Beach Volleyball in the Olympic program.


Almeria, Spain: The first Olympic demonstration.
1987 The first FIVB World Championship is held in Rio de Janeiro. This was the start of the World Championships era held over a quarter of a century, initially on an annual basis in South America and starting from 1997 onwards on a bi-annual basis in North America and Europe.
1986 The first international beach volleyball exhibition is held in Rio de Janeiro with 5,000 spectators.
1974 The first money tournament is held – the USD 1,500 San Diego Open with 250 spectators.
1948 The first tournament with prizes is played at State Beach, California, where the top teams are rewarded with a crate of Pepsi.
1947 The first official two-person Beach Volleyball tournament is held at State Beach, California, with no Prize Money.
1920 Beach Volleyball takes place on the beaches of Santa Monica, California.
1915 First recorded Beach Volleyball game in Waikiki in Honolulu.
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