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Is the Ball In or Out? Beach Volleyball

Being a former East End Volleyball player, I found this to be a great facebook post by East End Volleyball to determine if a ball is in or out on the beach. It needs to continue to be shared with the masses. And a big hat’s off to Rich Heiles, Tournament Director, for all he has done for Beach Volleyball along the east coast!


Here is a follow up on our weekend tournament post about whether the ball was in or out. We showed the ball mark photo to our favorite professional referees and they sent us the 2 graphics below and this explanation:

The context of the play is so very important.
Is the line elevated at all off the sand?
Was this an ace serve “down the line?” Jumper, or floater?
Or was the mark left, near the net, after a monster block several feet inside the antenna?
Was the shot a high arcing “rainbow” that fell near a flat line in soft sand? (as this appears to be)
Those shots leave a “splash” corona that does not count in the review. That leads to an incorrect “in” call when the ball might never have actually touched the line.
DID THE REFEREE SEE THE BALL HIT THE LINE? That’s the key. A human judgement, in the actual context of play, based on WHETHER THE BALL ACTUALLY TOUCHED THE LINE.

For what it’s worth, we emphasize to our referees in training that lines on the beach, unlike indoors, are physical things. They have width and thickness. They move with the sand. They are easily touched! A line-judge in this play would be well-served to call IN and explain that in his/her judgement he saw the ball touch the line.

As further evidence that ball marks “lie” (are difficult to interpret correctly) I offer you this pair of staged photos that we use in training: (the court lies to the photographers left)

EEVB replies:
The ball was a free ball with a high arc that did not make the line move. I happened to be siting close to the landing spot and did not see the line move and neither did the one player/referee. The line was very flat on the beach. On this very windy day the lines were lightly buried during a lot of the time and had to keep being snapped to clear them. When it landed from my angle I thought it was in. Then I walked over to look and take this photo and I thought it was out. Either way it is the closest ball mark I have ever see,

After both teams argues politely but forcibly for their side, the referee called a replay and both teams agrees since it was very late in game 3 which ended at 33-31 in a game to 28. It was a very important point and we are lucky both teams decided a replay was the fairest option.

Hope this helps everyone interpret ball marks in the future.

One comment

  1. This is very helpful. When I lived in Fort Lauderdale, there was a very active beach volleyball community. We never took it too seriously, but this did come up from time to time. It’s great when you have a ref but unfortunately, a lot of tournaments require you to ref your own game. Any advice for how to handle these situations when you’re on your own?

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