You are here

Emerging Sports: Sand Volleyball

Sand volleyball is recognized by NCAA Division I and II schools as an emerging sport for women, effective August 2010 for Division II and effective August 2011 for Division I. 

Information Related To Adding the Sport:

  • Level of Participation (high school,  club or college club):
    • USA Sand Volleyball Growth Statistics
    • The most recent report from the Sporting Good Manufacturer’s Association shows participation in sand volleyball grew by 7.6 percent from 2007 to 2008 and has grown by 25.8 percent in the last two years. Sand volleyball has more than three million participants and has added 293,000 overall from 2007 to 2008. Female participants under the age of 18 totaled 217,000 in 2007 and 240,000 in 2008. Sixty-four percent of youth female sand volleyball participants report playing only the sand game and not indoor volleyball.
    • In January 2007, USA Volleyball, the national governing body, restructured to adjust to the emergence of sand volleyball as a discipline with equivalent stature to the indoor game. The resultant 16-member board is split with equal representation from the indoor and the sand disciplines. USA Volleyball saw over 100 percent growth in its other sand programs, with the best performing being those directed at junior girls. The USAV Beach Junior Tour expanded junior girls participation from 534 in 2007 to 1,757 in 2009, a growth of over 200 percent.
    • Beach volleyball has been an Olympic Sport since 1996. In August 2008, beach volleyball was featured as part of NBC’s prime-time coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games and, due in part to the remarkable success of the American women’s and men’s teams, received more hours of airtime than any other sport. There have been professional opportunities for women in beach volleyball in the United States for more than 20 years. The number of ranked females on the AVP circuit grew by 24.4 percent due mainly to an increase in junior girls and women ages 16-22.
    • In 2009, the number of sand volleyball events and participants from NCAA-member schools  doubled from 2008 levels, with the largest event being the 200-player Fiesta on Siesta Key in Florida, and the most high-profile being the third annual CBS College Alt Games Collegiate Beach Championships in California.
  • Estimated Start-up Costs
  • Equipment Needed:  Equipment Needed: Balls (2-3 per player) – beach volleyballs are slightly heavier and larger than court volleyballs.  Average cost $50-$60/ball.  Player gear/uniform: pair of trunks and a tank top or Capri pants and long sleeve shirt for cooler weather.
  • Facilities Necessary: Building a Court suggestions -

Facilities Needed: Sand Court(s): A competition sand court for doubles play is a rectangle measuring 52’6” by 26’3” surrounded by a free zone of 9’10”.  Since sand courts are relatively maintenance free they are often used for recreational players which may involve teams of four or even six player per side.  These competitions are played on 60’ by 30’ rectangles so it is recommended that court be built to the larger size to multifunctional in use.  Building courts that can accommodate both competitive doubles play and recreational play is easily accomplished by simply sinking two sets of line anchors.  The optimal area needed for a single court is therefore 80’ by 50’.  As with tennis, courts that are placed side-by-side can share a free zone.  The sand should be at least 12” deep, and 15”-18” deep is optimal.  A single court will require about 225 tons of sand.  Care should be taken to obtain high quality sand that is fast draining, free of shells, rocks and other debris, and neither packs (too course) or produces dust (too fine).  Due to the weight of the sand and the amount needed, trucking costs can be a significant one-time expense in court construction.  Sand courts can also be put into indoor facilities. In this case there should be an area of at least 23’ above the playing surface that is free of obstructions.  

Whether indoors or outdoors, sand courts are excellent multi-sport training facilities and can be used for both conditioning and rehabilitation of injury.  The high resistance, low impact nature of the sand surface makes it ideal for plyometric training for all student-athletes.       

There are a variety of net systems available. It is preferable that systems be free standing and not supported by wires or stakes.  Posts should be at least 28” from each sideline and padded.  The net is 27’11” long, 39” wide when hung taut.  The net must include sideline markers and antennae. There is no center line on a sand court.  The height of the net is the same as court volleyball, 7’4 1/8” for women and 7’11 5/8” for men. 

Two sidelines and two endlines mark the court.  These should be of contrasting color to the sand, may be either rope or 2”-3” ribbon and should be placed inside the court dimensions. Any anchors should be buried or of soft flexible material. 

  • Number of Coaches Needed: One or two.
  • Annual Cost of Program:  Salary for coach(es); Scholarships (up to three allowed in 2011-12), travel, per diem, lodging for 10 student-athletes and coach for 3-5 road trips; one official for each championship match of tournament play (other matches called by players); recruiting.  Costs to start a program $100,000 - $150,000 depending on # of scholarships and coaching salaries.  Operating costs $35,000-$50,000.
  • Funds/Grants Available:  None
  • Typical Season (dates, duration):  Spring, minimum of 8 contests, at least 3 of which are duals, maximum of 16 dates of competition.  As long as sport is an emerging sport, the season must end by the  close of the spring academic year.  There are four dates of competition allowed in the non-traditional season. A match is two of three sets, with the first two sets played to 21 points and the third, if needed, played to 15 points.  All sets must be won by two points with no cap and all scoring is one point per rally.  On average a single match will last 35-50 minutes.  Most student-athletes will be able to play two to three matches in a day for consecutive days.  A sixteen-date season will involve 30 – 40 matches.  Warm-up time on the court should be no shorter than 10 minutes.  Consecutive matches can be scheduled on the same court on the  hour.   Format for Intercollegiate Play:  Similar to college tennis doubles, a sand volleyball competition will consist of five doubles teams competing in a flighted dual or tourney competition.  The dual meet the winner will be the team winning three of the five matches.  If a tournament competition, individual winners can be named in each flight and the team champion is the one scoring the most points in all five brackets combined. 
  • Suggested Competition Rules for Sand Volleyball

Key Organizations/Agencies:

American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA)
Executive Director: Kathy DeBoer 
2365 Harrodsburg Rd. Suite 325A, Lexington, KY 40504
Phone: 800.544.2822; fax: 859.226.4338; e-mail:
USAVolleyball (USAV)
Managing Director of Beach Programs: Dave Williams
Director of International and High Performance Programs: Ali Wood Lambertson
USA Volleyball Beach Programs, 222 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 2000, El Segundo, CA 90245
Phone: (310) 364-5214; Fax: (310) 364-5213; E-mail:
Chairman: Gino Grajeda
Phone: (310) 344-4466; e-mail:

Legislative Updates: At the 2010 NCAA Convention, Division II passed legislation developing sand volleyball financial aid, playing and practice season, and participant requirements for membership. See Proposal 2010-12. Division I will continue to develop proposals related to the sport through the 2010-11 legislative cycle.