Format & Scoring


  • Players should arrive 15 minutes prior to the scheduled game time.
  • On all courts, nets should be set to the highest setting.
  • To start the match, teams will ‘rock, paper, scissors’ and the winner will choose between side or service. First serve and side will alternate for the second game. In the event of a third game, teams will ‘rock, paper, scissors’ again to determine side or service. In a third game, teams will switch sides once either team reaches 8 points.


  • Each Volleyball match format is best of 3 games.
    • The first two games are rally-point scoring to 25 points, the first team to 25 wins.
    • The third game is rally-point scoring to 15 points, the first team to 15 wins.
    • A total of 5 points must be played in the third game for the result to count, otherwise the match will be considered a tie.
    • Teams do not have to win by two points.
  • Ties are allowed in regular season, so if time runs out before the third game is played and both teams have each won a game, the match will be considered a tie. If teams are tied in the third game and time is called, the match will be considered a tie.

General Playing Guidelines

  • If a serve touches the net on the way over, the ball is in play.
  • A player can set a serve, but cannot block a serve. The ball must come into play.
  • It is the responsibility of the players to call balls in or out of bounds. If there is a dispute, the ball should be re-served with no point awarded.
  • Area of Contact: Players can contact the ball with any part of the body, including areas below the waist.
  • Reaching beyond the net:
    • In blocking, a blocker can touch the ball beyond the net, provided that he/she does not interfere with the opponents' play. A player is permitted to pass his/her hand beyond the net after an attack hit, provided that the contact has been made within his/her own playing space.
    • The plane of the net can be penetrated to block a spike. However; if a setter is trying to set his/her player, the opposing team cannot reach over the net to block that set.
    • When spiking the ball, a player's hand can cross the net as long as they start the contact on their own side.
  • Serving:
    • If, while serving, the player misses and the ball hits the ground, it counts as a serve. It will be loss of possession and a point for the other team.
    • A Sky-Ball serve is allowed.
    • Jump serves are allowed in Intermediate Plus and higher levels.
  • 3 hits are allowed per possession:
    • A block does not count towards the 3 hits.
    • Any contact, intentional or unintentional, counts (all body parts are live).
    • All contact with the ball must be 'clean' - players are not allowed to catch, throw, push, scoop, lift, double hit or carry the ball.
  • The ESSC attempts to provide antennae at all beach courts. For those that do not have antennae, players should use the court line to estimate where the antennae would extend vertically from the plane of the net. Any balls that pass over the net clearly beyond the imaginary boundary would be out.


  • Players are to call their own fouls. If an obvious foul is missed, a player on the opposing team can politely point it out. Generally, teams should not call fouls against their opponents. Obvious fouls are: carries, double hits, touching the net, going under the net and contacting another player, etc.
  • A double hit on the first contact after a serve is allowed (e.g. the serve hits the defender's arms and then chest). A double-hit is also allowed on a hard-driven spike/hit. However, a ball that rolls along a player’s body is illegal.

4's Division Specific Rules

  • If one player serves 5 consecutive points, the team retains service possession but must rotate to another server.
  • Open Handed Tipping is not allowed: Players who contact the ball with one hand and are putting the ball over the net must cleanly hit with:
    • The heel or palm of hand (a roll shot).
    • A straight, locked fingers and a locked wrist (a cobra).
    • Curled fingers (a camel toe).
    • The back of the hand (locked wrist and locked fingers/knuckles).
    • One-handed placement or redirection of the ball with the fingers (open-handed tip) is a fault.
  • Jump serves are not allowed in the Intermediate division.
  • There are no court position restrictions or requirements in 4’s beach volleyball, but service rotation must remain the same throughout a single game. For example, players can stay in the same court position an entire game (at the net/back row etc) but each player must serve in the same service rotation for the entire game.
  • If a player is going to 'set' into the opponent's court, the player must contact the ball with 2 hands above the shoulders and it must be set directly forward or backward in relation to the player's body. ‘Dumping’ is not allowed.