History Of Beach Volleyball

Information gathered from Glenelg Beach Volleyball Site

The 1990s: the 5-ring era
1970s & 80s: the international growth

1950s & 60s: the California lifestyle
1920s, 30s & 40s: the birth of a new sport

Name: Beach Volleyball
Nickname: "Beach" or "BVB"
Born: 1920’s
Birth Place: Santa Monica, California
Characteristics: Played barefoot with a ball and two teams of two players
Habitat: Any sand court divided by a net
Greatest Achievements: Olympic Sort since 1996
Family: Over 150 National Volleyball Federations with Beach Volleyball activities, 5 Confederations and 2000 professional players world-wide
Recent & Future Events: Olympic Games 2000, World Championships 2001 and World Tour 2000, ’01, ’02, etc.

The 1990s: the 5-ring era

Beach Volleyball reaches Olympic Status at Atlanta 1996 and the FIVB Beach Volleyball International Circuit, the "World Tour", expands in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

The World Tour is the only international circuit recognised by the FIVB for Olympic Qualification.

Beach Volleyball has grown tremendously so after a first appearance at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, and then the huge success of the Sydney 2000 Beach Volleyball event at Bondi.

















Number of Events
















Spectators (1000’s)













The year of the Olympic Games in Sydney where the top 24 men’s and 24 women’s teams in the world will be competed on Bondi Beach in the most important competition in the world. A wonderful venue with a stadium of 10,000 spectators witnessed a spectacular event with fantastic coverage of the sport of Beach Volleyball.

Men – Olympic Beach Volleyball medallists :
Gold: Fonoimoana & Blanton (USA)
Silver: Ze Marco & Ricardo (BRA)
Bronze: Ahmann & Hager (GER)
Women – Olympic Beach Volleyball medallists :
Gold: Pottharst & Cook (AUS)
Silver: Adriana & Shelda Behar (BRA)
Bronze: Sandra Pires & Adriana (BRA)

Teams representing more than 50 countries have taken part in the Olympic Games qualification process.

The Athens Olympic Games Organising Committee has confirmed that Beach Volleyball is included in the Olympic Games program in 2004

The World Tour features 26 events totaling four million dollars in prize money.The Women’s Tour has a tremendous increase in the number of tournaments from seven in 1999, up to twelve in 2000. Men and women athletes are given the same opportunities.

The FIVB has assigned the 2001 World Championships to Austria (1st – 5th August 2001) and has reached an agreement with Turner Inc. to include beach volleyball into the 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia (29th August – 4th September).

A new rally scoring system has been tested on the occasion of a challenger and two satellite events for eventual future implementation.


The World Tour is the only international circuit recognised by the IOC for qualification in the Olympic Games. The qualification process consists of a period which began on 1st January 1999 and ends on August 15th 2000.

The World Tour includes twelve men’s and six women’s open events totaling 3,660,000.00 USD in prize money.

In 1999, the men and women’s World Championships were organised in Europe for the first time. Organised every two years, this event distributes 600,000 USD in prize money ( 300,000 USD for each gender ) and was held in a special facility for 5000 spectators. By the end of the competition the total number of spectators reached nearly 50.000.

For the first time beach volleyball was included in the Pan American Games which were held in Canada. In a packed stadium of 5000 spectators, the men’s Canadian team Holden / Leinemann won the gold medal, and the women’s team Adriana Behar / Shelda(BRA) got into first place.


25 FIVB beach volleyball tournaments (World Tour and Goodwill Games) with a total of US$ 3,900,000 in prize money and FIVB bonus pool.

New World Tour Open organisers : Argentina, Canada, China& Czech Republic whereas Chile and Bulgaria organised the challenger events.

FOR the first time in the World Tour, men and women players were rewarded at the same level with US$ 170,000 prize money per Open event.

Goodwill Games featured beach volleyball competitions from 22nd July – to 2nd August in New York’s Central Park with the world’s eight best men’s and women’s teams.

Beach volleyball is included in major sports competitions such as the South East Asian Games, Central & Pan-American Games, Universiade, etc.

FIVB offers new opportunities to mid-level players and organisers by introducing lower event categories : challenger, satellite and amateur tournaments, in addition to the major World Tour competitions such as the Grand Slam and Open events.

More than 120 National Federations have regular beach volleyball activities.


22 FIVB beach volleyball tournaments (World Tour) totaling 3,900,000 US$ in prize money and FIVB bonus pool.

Ericsson and Nike presented the Men’s and Women’s Beach Volleyball World Championships at the UCLA Campus. Men and women players were rewarded on an equal footing with total of US$ 600,000 prize money and the event was broadcast in more than 120 countries.

For the first time Austria, Italy & France hosted the women’s World Tour events and Bulgaria and Czech Republic organised the challenger events.

A new competition format with single elimination bracket and rally scoring system was tested in Marseille and Los Angeles.


27 FIVB beach volleyball tournaments (World Championships-Series and the Olympic Games) US$ 4,300,000 total prize money & FIVB bonus pool.

France & Portugal organised the men’s Grand Slam events and a women’s Grand Slam took place in Puerto Rico.

The first Olympic Beach Volleyball competition took place in Atlanta Beach from 23rd – 28th July, in a 10,000-seat stadium. Twenty-four men’s teams and eighteen women’s teams competed for Olympic medals and over 107,000 spectators attended the event. Beach volleyball had a complete ‘sell out’ in tickets.

Men – Olympic Beach Volleyball medallists :
Gold: Kiraly & Steffes (USA)
Silver: Dodd & Whitmarsh (USA)
Bronze: Child & Heese (CAN)
Women – Olympic Beach Volleyball medallists :
Gold: Jackie Silva & Sandra Pires (BRA)
Silver: Mônica & Adriana Samuel (BRA)
Bronze: Cook & Pottharst (AUS)

More than 95 National Federations have regular beach volleyball activities. 1995/96 : 27 FIVB Beach Volleyball tournaments (then named ‘World Championship Series’) totaling US$ 3,500,000 in prize money & FIVB bonus pool.

Host Broadcasters presented 100 hours of news, highlights and broadcasting.

FIVB Final Beach Volleyball Ranking serves as a basis to qualify the best pairs in the world for the Olympics. Some 600 athletes representing 42 countries took part in the Olympic qualification season.

Over 50 National Federations have set up a Beach Volleyball National Council to promote the sport in their countries.


Twelve FIVB beach volleyball tournaments (‘World Series’ and Goodwill Games) 1,440,000 US$ total in prize money and FIVB bonus pool.

Brazil, Chile, France, Japan, Puerto Rico, the USA & Chile hosted FIVB beach volleyball competitions.

Beach Volleyball was included for the first time in the Goodwill Games held in St. Petersburg (Russia).


Six FIVB beach volleyball tournaments (World Series) US$ 880,000 total in prize money & FIVB bonus pool.

Brazil, USA & Chile hosted women’s FIVB beach volleyball events.

His Excellency Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC President, Billy Payne, ACOG President and IOC members attended the February FIVB beach volleyball finals held in Rio de Janeiro, as well as 140,000 spectators (in one week).

24th September 1994 : Recognition is given to beach volleyball as an Olympic discipline at the IOC meeting in Monte Carlo. Twenty-four men’s teams and eighteen women’s teams competed for the Olympic gold medal in Atlanta for the first time in 1996.


Six FIVB beach volleyball tournaments (World Series) totaling US$ 950,000 in prize money and FIVB bonus pool.

Beach Volleyball was played as a demonstration sport in Olympic Games were held in Barcelona. The first women’s FIVB beach volleyball World Series took place in Almeria.

USA team Smith and Stoklos enter into the legend by becoming World Champions for the fifth time.

A Beach Volleyball Department was created within the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB).


Seven FIVB beach volleyball tournaments (World Series)with a total of US$ 600,000 in prize money and FIVB bonus pool. Australia & Spain hosted FIVB beach volleyball events for the first time.


Four FIVB beach volleyball events (World Series) US$ 200,000 total in prize money and FIVB bonus pool.

France, Italy, Japan and Brazil hosted men’s FIVB Beach Volleyball events.

September 1990: the first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Council gathers in Lausanne to determine the program for beach volleyball.

1970s & 80s: the international growth

Beach Volleyball reaches international level with U.S.A. and Brazil leading the way. The sport becomes professional and international.


3 FIVB Beach Volleyball events (World Series)

140,000 US$ total Prize Money

The first FIVB Beach Volleyball International Circuit, named the World Series, was created with men’s tournaments in Brazil, Italy & Japan. The Brazilian event sells out with thousands of people outside the stadium wanting to get in.

1989/90 Men World Champions: Smith & Stoklos (USA)


1 FIVB Men’s tournament was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with 50,000 US$ Prize Money. The winners are: Smith & Stoklos (USA).


1 FIVB Men’s tournament is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with 51,500 US$ Prize Money. The winners are: Kiraly & Powers (USA).


The first international FIVB sanctioned Beach Volleyball tournament was held at Ipanema Beach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) with 22,000 Prize Money. Sinjin Smith & Stoklos (USA) win the tournament.


First international Beach Volleyball exhibition in Rio de Janeiro with 5,000 spectators.

Brazilian Volleyball Champions, like Renan, Badá, Montanaro, William, Jackie Silva, Isabel Salgado, Vera Mossa, Regina Uchoa, along with the 1984 Olympic Volleyball Champion, Pat Powers (USA) and the King of the Beach, Sinjin Smith(USA) become leading figures in the world-wide growth of Beach Volleyball.


Beach Volleyball becomes popular on the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro (BRA).

The USA tour becomes national with tournaments held from Denver to New York and Clearwater (FL)


First sponsored tour in the USA with 7 events in the calendar and 52,000 US$ Prize Money.


Pro Beach Volleyball tournaments are held in Santa Cruz, Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles, USA.


Inaugural Championships of Beach Volleyball was staged at State Beach, Pacific Palisades (CA) with 5,000 US$ Prize Money. Menges & Lee win the tournament in front of 30,000 spectators.


First commercially sponsored tournament takes place in San Diego (CA) with 250 spectators. A total 1,500 US$ Prize Money is offered. The winners are Dennis Hare & Fred Zuelich.

1950s & 60s: the California lifestyle

Beach Volleyball becomes part of the California lifestyle, much like surfing. The sport is associated with the beach, the sun and modern music. Even the Beatles come to Sorrento Beach, California and pass the ball around and Marilyn Monroe talks about Beach Volleyball.

Open tournaments were held on eight beaches in California: Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, State, Manhattan, Corona del Mar, Laguna, San Diego and even on Lake Tahoe’s shores. The first Manhattan Beach Open took place.

President Kennedy attended the first official beach volleyball event in Sorrento Beach, Los Angeles.


Bernie Holtzman and Gene Selznick win an event that featured Greta Tyson, star of "Pyjama Tops", as "Queen of the Beach" Beach Volleyball was becoming more than just a sport, it was turning into a real show.


The first circuit is organised on 5 beaches in California: Santa Barbara, State, Corona del Mar, Laguna and San Diego.

In Brazil, the first tournament sponsored by a newspaper publishing company takes place.

1920s, 30s & 40s: the birth of a new sport

Most accounts place the origin of Beach Volleyball in California where families were seen playing 6 against 6. There are also rumours that six-man teams were playing on Hawaiian beaches.

All you needed was a bathing suit, a net, a ball and sand to play Beach Volleyball. The fever catches on rapidly in the USA where people could escape the depression by going to the Beach.


The first tournament held at State Beach, California rewarded the best teams with a crate of Pepsi!


The first official two-man Beach Volleyball tournament held at State Beach (CA) with no Prize Money was organised by Holtzman and won by Saenez–Harris.

American soldiers played beach volleyball on the European shores for the first time.


Beach Volleyball appeared in Palavas, Lacanau and Royan (France), around Sofia (Bulgaria), Prague (Czech Republic) and Riga (Latvia).

The first two-men Beach Volleyball game was played in Santa Monica, California.


There are unconfirmed whispers of men’s teams playing on the beach in Hawaii, but most accounts place the sport’s origin in Santa Monica, California where the first Volleyball courts are put up on the beach.

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