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2015-05-17 10:00:00 CET

History of Beach Volleyball

Even though 1920. is the official birthday recorded in the history of beach volleyball, origins of this sport trace further back in time. It is written that beach volleyball was most likely played for the first time in Hawaii in 1915., on the sands of Waikiki Beach.

Some claim that the birth place is Santa Monica, California, but it is crucial to recognize the differences between volleyball played on the beach and a sport known more officially as beach volleyball. After all, we can agree that while the first recorded volleyball match played on the beach was the Hawaiian one, the sport as it is known today evolved on the southern California coast.

The game played by Hawaiians had few rules, no limit to the number of players on the court, and they did not jump or attack the ball. It became more structured and competitive sport when it came to the shores of California.

The most important event in the history of beach volleyball had almost nothing to do with the sport alone, but with a simple construction project along the California coast. City of Santa Monica built new jetties that were able to transform the rugged shore into a smooth, flat surface and create an ideal space for beach volleyball courts. First public court appeared there in 1922., and instantly became favourite gathering place for families and college students.

Duke Kahanamoku, a brilliant athlete and a native of Waikiki was the man responsible for some of the earliest modifications to beach volleyball. In 1930 he  took the position as the Athletic Director at Santa Monica's Beach Club. He was the first one to perform a common indoor volleyball maneuver ''The Spike'' on the beach and instantly switched the game from being an ordinary recreational activity to serious and rugged sport.
At that time, most beach volleyball matches were played between teams of six players but soon after that, four friends, Paul Johnson, Johnny Allen, Billy Brothers and Charles Conn, tired of waiting their teammates, decided to play two-on-two, which soon became a general thing.
Beach volleyball became very popular in Europe during World War II, when soldiers used this sport as a way of relaxing and keeping fit. Soon after that, beaches across Europe were filled with beach volleyball enthusiasts.

The 1950s and 1960s are known as the golden age of beach volleyball. It became popular at Northern California, Florida, and even as far as Brazil. Women also became huge fans of this sport, and even though their participation was limited to co-ed teams in the beginning, by the end of the 1950s they were able to compete in tournaments with their own two-woman teams.

In 1965, beach volleyball became a legitimate sport with a set of standardized rules and official tournaments. The California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) was the sport's first official governing body created for establishing and enforcing the new rules which made the game as we know it today.

Now that the tournaments became official, it was very important to develop beach volleyball on a professional level, and the best solution was prize money. In 1975, a cigarette company agreed to sponsor a tournament in Long Beach, California with $1,500 dollars in prize money. In 1976 local Santa Monica beer company signed the sponsorship for the Professional Championship of Beach Volleyball, which offered $5,000 prize for the winners. The Championship was very successful and the best evidence of its popularity is that it was attended by 30,000 spectators. Four years later, the first corporate sponsored tour was organised. It was divided in 7 tournaments and offered a total of $52,000 in prize money. In 1983 the tour expanded to 12 tournaments with stops in Chicago, Florida and New York. The prize for this tour was bigger than ever, a total amount of $137,000.

The game continued to rise in popularity throughout the years. By the 1990s, beach volleyball had major international recognition with federations all over the world. 

The Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) – the international governing body for indoor volleyball became involved in the beach game and managed to include the beach volleyball as a demonstration sport at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Beach volleyball took a massive step forward in 1996 when the sport become an Olympic sport in the Atlanta Olympic Games.

This amazingly fun and addictive game got its start in the 1920s and has enjoyed a steady climb into the international spotlight ever since.

Characteristics

Name
Beach Volleyball

Nickname
"Beach Volley" or "BVB"

Born
1920s in Santa Monica, California

Main characteristic
played barefoot with a ball, net and two teams

Habitat
sand court divided by a net

Greatest achievement
part of the Summer Olympics since 1996

Family
more than 218 National Volleyball Federations with Beach Volleyball activities, 5 Confederations and over 2000 professional players worldwide

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