When we think of beach volleyball, we often imagine sun, sand, and athletes playing under a bright blue sky. And we see Karch Kiraly and Kerry Walsh soaring through the sky with their spikes, and Misty May pulling off save after save.
One of the notable aspects of this dynamic sport is the unique attire of the players, especially when it comes to footwear—or lack thereof. Do beach volleyball players wear shoes?
No, beach volleyball players typically do not wear shoes. Instead, they play barefoot. This allows them to have better grip and feel of the sand beneath their feet, which is essential for movement, balance, and agility during a match.
Players must play barefoot except when authorized by the 1st referee.Official FIVB Volleyball Rules 4.3.2
Who Is The Governing Body Of Beach Volleyball?
The governing body for beach volleyball, as well as indoor volleyball, is the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB). Established in 1947, the FIVB oversees the organization of international competitions, establishes the official rules of the game, and promotes the sport globally. The FIVB is responsible for prestigious events such as the Beach Volleyball World Championships and the beach volleyball competitions at the Olympic Games.
Why Don’t They Wear Shoes?
- Traction and Stability: The sand’s soft and uneven nature requires players to have a direct feel for the surface. Going barefoot allows athletes to dig their toes into the sand for better traction, making it easier to jump, sprint, and change directions.
- Sensation and Feedback: Feeling the sand beneath their feet provides players with instant feedback, which can be crucial in a fast-paced game. They can quickly adjust their movements and positioning based on the sand’s texture and compactness.
- Flexibility: Footwear can be restrictive. By going barefoot, players can flex, point, and move their feet freely, which can be beneficial for specific movements and techniques.
- Tradition and Comfort: Beach volleyball originated from sun-soaked beaches where shoes were more of a hindrance than a help. Over time, playing without shoes just became part of the sport’s culture.
Exceptions and Considerations
While the vast majority of beach volleyball players choose to go barefoot, there are instances where some form of foot covering might be used:
- Sand Socks: In conditions where the sand is either too hot or too cold, players might opt for sand socks. These are thin, neoprene-like socks that protect the feet from extreme temperatures while still offering a decent feel of the sand.
- Injury or Medical Reasons: Occasionally, if a player has a foot injury or a specific medical condition, they might wear a protective covering or brace. This is, however, rare and would need to comply with competition rules.
- Personal Preference: While uncommon, some players might feel more comfortable with some foot covering, especially if they have sensitive feet or are prone to blisters.