What Is Footvolley and How to Play It?

Similar to Beach Volley, Footvolley is played on the same field. Although some of the rules are alike, there are key differences between the two. The most significant one being that Footvolley is played without the use of your arms and hands.

After all, it is called Foot-volley.

The Basics of Footvolley

footvolley net
Footvolley net on the beach

Basically, you can use your feet, head, chest, and thighs to pass the ball in a maximum of 3 passes over a net on 2m20.

The best way to play it is in 2 against 2, barefoot in the sand, on a beach volleyball court of 8 x 16 meters.

This game is all about the sun, beach, and sea. It is played on long rallies, gaining spectacular points and having fun.

To be able to play this game well, you need to develop a lot of balance. Same as with paddleboarding. Balance in the core is crucial to any sport actually as well as in walking. Having strong abs will help you maintain good posture and keep your spine and lower back protected for life.

For Footvolley, you also have to develop ball control and endurance because it can last for quite a long, and you need to be able to sustain the game pace. Focus and quick reflexes will enable you to be in step with the ball and ensure many points are coming your way.

Body and mind in harmony with respect and fair play.

All in all, Footvolley is eye-catching and addictive, and everybody can play. Young or old, man or woman, anyone can learn it.

And with that said, I will quickly go over the rules of play now so that you know what to expect once you start playing this fantastic sport.                   

How to Play Footvolley

Footvolley beach
Footvolley in 2 without net

Footvolley is played with a Mikasa FT-5 or FT-5 Pro Ball. These are the original balls that are perfected to give you a solid Footvolley experience.

You can only touch the ball with your head, chest, thighs, and feet in a maximum of 3 passes over a net of 2.20 meters or about 7 feet. The net cannot be lower or higher because the gameplay will not be ideal. As an example, here are some beach nets designed explicitly for Footvolley in the proper dimensions and height.

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Footvolley Players

Footvolley
Group of friends having fun on the beach playing Footvolley

The best way to play is in 2 teams of 2 players barefoot in the sand, on a beach volleyball court of 8 x 16 meters.

The game starts with one player serving the ball from the ground behind the service line. There are two ways of serving the ball from the starting point. You can either build a heap in the sand of which you can serve by foot, or you can simply serve by foot from the air. 

The served ball is allowed to touch the edge of the net that initial time. For all passes after, the ball cannot touch any part of the net.

After the ball is served, the receiving team is allowed to return the ball immediately if they want to do it like that. Otherwise, when the ball isn’t served in the following passings but just passes across the net, both teams must do the 3 contacts first, reception, setup, attack, and then pass it over.

Another important rule is that the same player cannot touch the ball two times in a row, which means no juggling with the ball. 

During the game, you can use all body parts except your hands and arms. If you touch the ball with your hand, a point goes to the opposing team. Another important rule is that it’s not allowed to touch the net with your body during a rally. If you do, again, a point goes for the opposing team.

You only score a point if the ball touches the ground on the opponent’s side within or on the lines.

Your team will score a point if the other team isn’t able to play the ball over to your side in a maximum of 3 touches. The same happens on the other side too. If you and your teammate are unable to pass back the ball to the other team with 3 contacts, then they score a point on your behalf.

When doing the attack kick, the ball must pass between the antennas on top of the net. If the ball touches the antenna on the net, then the opposing team gets the point.

Counting Points

Footvolley referee
Footvolley referee

You count the points according to the rally point system. What this means is that a team can score a point in every rally whether or not they are serving. They are basically scoring on the other team’s mistakes, not only their own performance.

Serving Rules

At the start of the Footvolley match, the referee will hold a draw to decide which team starts serving.

The serving needs to be alternated between the players in each team. The first player keeps serving until a point is lost. When this team regains the service, the second player has to serve. 

This alternating rule is obliged, and the referee must keep track of which player has to serve during the gameplay.

Winning in Footvolley

The team that wins 2 sets in a row wins the game. This is a general rule, but some players also announce the winner if a winner wins any two sets. Regardless if it is in a row or not. 

One set is comprised of 18 points, and the team that gets to 18 first receives the set. Additionally, if the two teams are tied at 17 – 17, they need to play until they get to a difference of 2 points. 17-19, as an example, and in order to improve the spectacle, in Footvolley, there are no killer points.

If there is a tie with the sets, for instance, when the two teams have won 1 set each, a third and final decisive set of 15 points must be played to announce the winner. If both teams scored 14-14 in the final set, then again, they continue the game until a difference of 2 points is created. 

Changing Sides

After every 6 points are scored, teams change sides. So, in a set of 18 points, the teams will switch sides 3 times. In a set of 15 points, the sides are changed after every 5 points scored. So, again, the sides are changed 3 times. 

The reason why teams must change sides this often is that Footvolley is played outside, and all kinds of external factors can affect the players’ ability to play. This way, no team can benefit from the wind or the sun and sunlight.

Footvolley Gear

Footvolley Equipment
Footvolley Equipment

I talked a bit about the Footvolley elements above and gave you an example of where you can buy them. But in order to be able to set the court up properly, let’s talk about the court dimensions and exact sizes of each of the elements used in this fantastic sport.

Footvolley Ball

The ball used for Footvolley is heavier than a beach volleyball and performs a little differently from a soccer ball. This is achieved by the fact that it weighs a bit more but has less air in it. This way, the ball becomes more manageable and more predictable in windy conditions.

The ideal ball for such a game is the Mikasa FT-5 or FT-5 Pro Ball. 

Footvolley court

Footvolley is supposed to be played on the beach. However, when conditions won’t allow it, you’ll be happy to hear that this great sport can be played anywhere and on most surfaces. If you are not on holiday anymore but still want to play, this is a great opportunity.

In the professional Footvolley games, some nations play indoors during wintertime. They usually have sand in the court, but I’ve seen Footvolley sometimes played on the hardcourt too.

Court Size

In Europe, the court size for Footvolley is 8 meters x 16 meters, while Brazilians play on 9 meters x 18 meters courts. Other countries usually follow the 9x18m dimensions too.

All players can play in all courts. It takes a bit of getting used to at first if you practiced playing on 8 meters x 16 meters or vice versa, but this isn’t an issue for beginners or experienced players.

Net Height

Footvolley
A shot of a Footvolley net at the sandy beach

The net is 2.2m, but this is something that varies from country to country and from tournament to tournament. In Europe, this exact height is followed. Still, playing teams usually come to an agreement beforehand and are able to change this.

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Regardless of the gear and where it is played, the most important thing is to focus on playing Footvolley right. And win… naah, and have fun!

Additional Equipment

Except for a ball and a net, there is no other mandatory equipment for Footvolley. You need a regular t-shirt and shorts, and you feel comfortable in, and you play barefoot, that’s it.

Some people like to play with sand socks, and I warmly recommend using them. They protect the feet from the hot sand or from sharp objects you might step on.

Here are examples of great sand socks. You can use these for other beach sports and activities too.

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If you want to control your balance better before stepping on an inflatable paddleboard, for playing Footvolley, or just generally improve your balance for any activity, a balance board or wobbel board can help you with this, so that you are even more firmly on your feet.

Here are several different types of boards as my top choices for improving your balance at posture at home. You can review the choices here, but I also recommend reading this article on balance boards exclusively so that you learn which balance board is right for you.

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If you are unsure of which one to get, visit your local gym. I’ve noticed the larger ones usually have a functional zone with free-standing equipment where you can exercise freely. In this area, you should find some of these balance boards. At my local gym, I see the BOSU quite a lot and people love practicing their balance on it. Of course, you can try out and buy whatever suits you.

The Gameplay

The Chest

Footvolley chest move
Footvolley chest move

Playing with the chest is one of the most challenging moves to master, as this part of the body is the hardest to use correctly. With the chest, you receive the ball and lay it calm in order to make the next move. The chest move takes a while to master.

The Feet

What Is Footvolley and How to Play It? 23
Footvolley feet move

Footvolley is played barefoot, or with thin socks, so you rely on technique the most. You will use your feet the most while playing. 

The Head

What Is Footvolley and How to Play It? 24
Footvolley lay on head move

The head is best used for the attack move in the game because it can be the most accurate and powerful hit. You can also lay up the ball on your head. This move is easier to master than the chest lay-on move, so you can use it until you learn the chest move.

You can use the head to attack long or short, but you can use it to your advantage so that you can confuse your opponent into thinking you are doing the opposite. 

The Knee/thigh Move

What Is Footvolley and How to Play It? 25
Footvolley knee/thigh move

Except for the feet, you can use your knees or thighs for the laying of the ball or the kicking. However, this technique is tricky, and not everyone likes it.

My friend, for instance, absolutely digs it, and he says it helps him with balance in the gameplay a lot. I, on the other hand, never got used to it and barely used it.

The Shoulders

Footvolley shoulder move
Footvolley shoulder move

Personally, I rarely see someone use their shoulders when we play, but I’ve seen many videos of other players using their shoulders to lay up the ball. Some even attack with it, but that’s all dependent on the situation, and it indeed requires a lot of practice.

The Soles of Your Feet

There is a move called the shark attack that is done with the bottom of your foot. Namely, a player must jump with their feet above the net and strike the ball with the bottom of their foot. This requires a lot of experience since you have to find balance and hit hard and correctly with the ball.

Other Parts of the Body

Footvolley pile of sand serve
Footvolley moves

The hands and the arms are forbidden. If you are seen using them during a game, a point goes to the opposite team. However, any other part of the body is in play. Get creative and you can use your back, shins, heels, and any other part but those two forbidden ones. Don’t be afraid to try everything else to win a point.

The Footvolley Serve

Footvolley pile of sand serve
Footvolley pile of sand serve

To be able to serve the ball from the ground, you have to pile up some sand and put the ball on top. Kick it with the inside of your foot and be precise so that you don’t kick the sand pile as well.

The Shark Attack

The Shark move is an advanced one that requires you to jump higher than the net and kick the ball to the opposing team from that position. This is easily the coolest move in Footvolley, and to get a better idea of how it is done, I found a video to show it to you:

Footvolley History

Now that we’ve gone through all the rules of play and equipment, it’s time for a history class. Promise this won’t be a long, boring one.

Namely, the first game of Footvolley was played about 50 years ago at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 1965 Octavio de Moraes invented Footvolley on a beach volleyball court because his teammates and he weren’t allowed to play football near the beach.

Only 5 years later, in 1970, other Brazilian cities like Recife, Salvador, Brasília, and many more hosted Footvolley games. Some Brazilian football players who still play are Romario, Ronaldinho, and Ronaldo.

10 years later, the Footvolley was spread in Europe through Portugal via a Portuguese immigrant Mr. Julião Neto. He returned from Brazil and started teaching the sport to the local youth.

Then several football players noticed it and started playing, so the sport got spread all over pretty quickly as soon as they started competing.

Since the 2000s, the sport has spread all over the USA, Asia, and Europe. At the moment, there are 16 European nations that have Footvolley associations. I would say that’s a pretty big accomplishment, and it does attest to the popularity and excitement of the game.

Footvolley Gear Checklist

Here’s another quick overview of all the Footvolley equipment you’ll need to play this summer. 

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$149.00
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$119.00
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1 new from $119.00
4 used from $80.47
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$139.99
$169.99
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13 new from $139.99
9 used from $84.01
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Free shipping
£244.50
in stock
2 new from £244.50
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$22.99
$33.95
in stock
2 new from $22.99
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$42.00
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1 new from $42.00
2 used from $32.92
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$54.99
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9 used from $44.61
What Is Footvolley and How to Play It? 1 Amazon.com
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Last updated on 03/07/2021 00:01

And that is it. I really hope you enjoyed reading about Footvolley. If you have other exciting beach sports you want me to write about or simply share with us, leave them in the comments below.

Don’t forget to connect with me on Instagram and Facebook for more cool sports, gear, and most of all, standup paddling stuff.

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)

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