Water volleyball, also called aqua and pool volleyball, is a team sport. The rules are very similar to those of volleyball, but it is played in a swimming pool rather than on a volleyball court. It can be played by two teams, which consists of one to four players, depending on the body of water in which the game is played.
Through the practice of the unification of the beach and water volleyball tournaments, the sport has emerged in recreational pool activities, water parks, and aquatic clubs.
Disney’s water parks had a pool volleyball entertainment in the 1990s, and in 1985, DLRG-Ortsgruppe Havixbeck organized the first water volleyball tournament, which led to the creation of a water volleyball club. Since the United States developed a powerful swimming pool play on its own, it paved the way for the creation of volley standards. The sport is now played throughout U.S. universities.
The sport is also known as aqua volei in Brazil, voleibol acuatico in Spain, Wasser-Volleyball in Germany, acqua pallavolo in Italy, vodni volejbal in the Czech Republic, and splash, pool, or water volley in the United States.
As stated above, its rules are very similar to those of volleyball, but since it is played in the water, it comes with some distinctions. To find out how water volleyball is played and how it differs from land volleyball, read our guide below.
Can you use a volleyball in the water?
No, you cannot use any volleyball in the water as most types of balls are not waterproof, which can cause them to become saturated with water over time. Instead, it is best to use a high-quality waterproof volleyball that can withstand the harshness of chlorinated pool water or lake water. Most of these balls are coated with plastic or vinyl to make them impermeable, while some have a soft coating on the exterior to make them easier to grip and less painful when they hit the skin.
Water Volleyball Playing Guide
It must run the width of the court and be centered along the length.
- Waterproof volleyball
As stated above, the ball used for this sport should be waterproof and bouncy.
- A Body of Water
As the name water volleyball suggests, this sport should be played in either shallow or deep swimming pools or lakes.
- Regulation Size Ball (for competitions)
A strictly waterproof ball with a soft coating is required for competitive water volleyball.
- Retractable Netting
A retractable net is also best to use for competitions. It can be removed before and after a game, so that the pool or lake can be used for other activities.
- A Set of Posts
A set of posts is used to hold the retractable net in place.
Court Sizes and Dimensions
Water volleyball can be played in a large lake, a small swimming pool, or an Olympic-size pool. However, water volleyball courts are required to have their measurements adjusted so that they can match the level of the players and the size of the body of water.
- Considerations to take when deciding on the court size:
- Are you playing with younger children?
- Are the players strong/good swimmers?
- Are the players in a strong/good cardiovascular shape?
You should match the size of the court after determining the above considerations.
Standard Water Volleyball Courts
- The standard water volleyball court is 30 x 60 feet and uses a 24-foot net.
- On average, the net should stand one foot above the water surface.
- These measurements may be customized based on the width and length of the pool if using residential pools.
- On lakes, the standard dimensions are usually used and the only thing to keep in mind is whether the players are strong swimmers since both sides of the lake are typically in deep water.
- You can alter the measurements based on the size of the pool.
- Adjust the court’s size to make sure everyone can have a fun and fast game, which is appropriate to everyone’s skill level.
Water Volleyball Nets and Posts
- Nets used for water volleyball are made of the same nylon used for regular volleyball nets.
- Make sure this nylon is not bouncy, but springy enough to provide proper resistance.
- On a permanently mounted net system, one should use a stiffer and wirier net to make it last longer. However, it requires a bit of maintenance and should not be left outdoors.
Weighted posts or permanently mounted posts are where the net is attached to, just like a volleyball net.
- Weighted Posts
- For water volleyball, weighted posts are filled with sand or water. These are then placed out of the pool on opposite sides and work well for casual players and for both small and large pools.
- They may need occasional cleaning to remove sand or water.
- They may also need to be repositioned during a game and may require some more time for setting up. Plus, they do not tend to last as long as permanently mounted nets.
- Permanently Mounted Posts
- These are more appropriate for larger pools, recreation center pools, or industrial/commercial pools, which are mostly found in schools.
- These are installed to concrete-mounted steel poles, on grommets or hooks that are built into the ceiling of the walls surrounding the pool.
- Permanently mounted posts are very sturdy and feel more solid.
- They last a long time with proper use and maintenance.
How to Play Water Volleyball
Rules and Game Play
- Water volleyball is played by two teams, each composed of four or six players, and is played as the best out of three sets of games.
- The first team to score 11, 15, or 25 wins the set. The length of a game is decided by both teams, considering what works best for them.
- The winning team should have a 2-point lead to end the game.
- If there is only 1 point separating both teams at the agreed-upon game length, they will have to play until one team has a 2-point advantage.
- The teams should announce “match” or “advantage” after each service to identify which team is in the lead.
- One team is picked to serve first, usually by doing a coin toss.
- A player from the chosen team will start the game by hitting the ball over the net and onto the opponent’s side, within the boundary lines.
- Both teams should rotate clockwise after a team wins a service, or after they get the serve back from the other team.
- On each service, the server should announce the score before serving the ball.
- A member of the opposing team should hit the ball back and vice versa until a team scores a point.
The most common water volleyball serve is an overhand serve. However, a player may also serve an underhand or sidearm service, as long as the ball is hit above the water and is not carried.
- Regardless of which team is serving, the points are scored in Rally Scoring, wherein every serve results in a score.
- A point is scored when a player from the opposing team double-hits the ball.
- A point is scored when the ball hits the water over the net and within the boundary lines of the opponent’s side.
- A point is scored when one player makes an illegal hit by pushing, carrying, or catching the ball.
- A point is scored when the ball is hit at the same time by two players of the same team.
- A point is scored when a player touches the net while the ball is in play.