They spike, they block, they jump - and they have a ball doing it.
Each year, an increasing number of Long Islanders, from teenagers to 70-somethings, join beach volleyball teams. Some play for the thrill of the win; others enjoy the exercise. For nearly all, getting hot and sweaty on the sand is a highlight of the season.
"Even if you stink at volleyball, you'll have a good time just being there," says Mike Ryan, president of North Fork Beach Volleyball. "It's a very social atmosphere with lots of camaraderie and people who come here year after year."
Consider joining one of these local leagues, which are forming teams now.
NORTH FORK BEACH VOLLEYBALL
Plays: 6 p.m. Monday and Thursday nights, beginning June 3. Beach courts on the west side of the Mattituck Inlet on Breakwater Road.
Skill level: Intermediate-Advanced
The league is made up of 14 coed 4-on-4 teams that play on Monday nights - as well as 10 2-on-2 teams (any gender mix) that play on Thursdays. You must be at least 18 to join.
On July 24, the league hosts its seventh annual North Fork Beach Open, and on Sept. 11, players can participate in the 15th annual North Fork Beach 4s Tournament.
Get involved: Online registration is open now until teams are full. If you don't have a team to register with, sign up as a free agent, and organizers will try to match you with a team based on skill level. If no spots are open, you may be placed as a substitute player.
Fees: $10 individual Association of Volleyball Professionals membership, plus $180 4-person team membership or $80 2-person team membership
EAST END VOLLEYBALL
631-728-0397, eevb.net Long Island
Skill level: Beginner-Advanced
Options range from recreational coed 6-person teams - basic backyard picnic volleyball, says league director Richard Heiles - to competitive 6- and 4-person teams, high-level coed triples and same-sex doubles.
"On Tuesday, our busiest night, we use more than 90 nets spread out over three sites, with close to 2,000 players," Heiles says. "There's no age limit, upper or lower. Our oldest player just stopped playing two years ago, when he was in his late 70s, and we've had families play together."
The teams emphasize the social aspect of playing. In Long Beach, for instance, three bars offer players a free buffet on game nights.
Get involved: Online registration is open now until leagues are full. Free agents can post a message on the EEVB bulletin board, where team captains turn when they need players. Most end up on teams by the end of the summer, Heiles says.
Fees: $10 mandatory individual AVPNext membership, plus $95-$680 per team.
Plays: 7 p.m. at Robert Moses Beach and 6:45 p.m. at Jones Beach on Sunday-Thursday beginning May 16.
Skill level: Beginner-Advanced
More than 1,200 teams with 9,000 players face off under the lights in this league, says managing director Joe Strining. Team options range from recreational and competitive coed 6-person and 4-person teams to junior varsity teams. The average player is 30 years old; some are older than 60.
Get involved: Register online or by phone as a team or free agent.
Fees: $15 annual LIVA membership plus season fee ranging from $115 for an individual to $485 for a 6-person team.