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Having a ball — with beach and indoor volleyballs

Credit: Kidsday staff artist / Isabella Niola, Old Westbury

Have you ever noticed a difference between gym and outdoor volleyballs? Indoor volleyballs are made of leather and are heavier than outdoor volleyballs. Indoor volleyball is a game of power and the heavier balls move quicker and can be hit harder. Beach volleyballs are softer, lighter and a bit bigger than indoor balls.

There are specific rules to beach volleyball and indoor volleyball. In both games, a player is not allowed to hit the ball twice consecutively (except when blocking). The rally continues until the ball touches the ground, goes out, or a team fails to return it properly.

In beach volleyball, only the serving team may score a point. When the receiving team wins a rally, it gains the right to serve. Competition beach volleyball typically is played with two players per side (this is how it is played in the Olympics) and indoor volleyball is played with six players per side. The indoor court is 29 square feet whereas the beach court is 26 square feet.

Indoor volleyballs are molded and the panels are glued to the inner lining of the ball. The process makes the outside of the ball smoother and consistent. As a result, the ball withstands the rigors of indoor use. Outdoor and beach volleyballs tend to weigh slightly more and are handstitched.


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