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Hand Signals in Beach Volleyball

If you’re looking to spend a peaceful and quiet day at the beach then you should probably steer clear of the sand courts. Because there are only two players to cover the court, there is nothing more important to team success in beach volleyball than communication. Thank goodness for vocal chords!

There are, however, a few instances when you may need the exchanges between you and your partner to be more discreet. For example, it probably isn’t in your team’s best interest to scream out where you plan to serve the ball, but that’s definitely information your partner would find useful. In those cases, it’s best to use hand signals. Outlined below are a few of the most common hand signals used on the sand court and their corresponding meanings.

Blocking Hand Signals

In beach volleyball, it’s important to let your teammate know where you plan to block. This information will make it much easier for your partner to play defense. Since it’s not strategically sound to yell out where you plan to block, this information is often conveyed through hand signals.

The signals are generally made behind the back to hide them from the opponent and are given with both hands by the serving player’s partner prior to the serve. Each hand refers to the type of block that the players will set on the corresponding side of the court. For example, if a player signals two fingers on the right side of her body, that means she plans to block “angle” on the right side of the court.

Here are the most common blocking signals:

  • Closed fist: No block should be attempted for the opponent on that side of the court.
  • One finger: The blocker plans to block the opponent’s line attack.
  • Two fingers: The blocker plans to block an opponent’s “angle” attack.
  • Open hand: The blocker plans to match up with the hitter, deciding where to block based on the opposing team’s set and the hitter’s approach and arm swing.

Serving Hand Signals

To the unsuspecting observer, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of communication between partners before and during the serve. But beach volleyball veterans know better. The best teams are constantly in communication about every decision.

Information about the serve can also be communicated via hand signals. When the non-serving partner wants to suggest a location for the server, he or she will wiggle or flash a signal on the side of the court to which they would like their teammate to serve. For example, if the blocker would like the serve to go to the right side of the court, then she will put the flashing signal on the right side of her body.

This type of communication can help your team gain an edge on the opponent because it allows your partner to be prepared for the upcoming play.

Sign it Up

Hand signals cannot and should not take the place of vocal communication between teammates. Instead, think of hand signals as a supplement. They can be a great alternative when the situation prevents you from yelling out to your partner. So take a moment to memorize the signals outlined above, and you’ll be fluent in beach signals in no time flat.

Hand signals allow beach volleyball partners to communicate without giving away any information to the other team. Learn more about using hand signals in this guide.
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