National & Kapodistiran University of Athens, School of Physical Education & Sport Sciences, 41 Ethnikis Antistasis Avenue, Athens, 17237, Greece.
The purpose of the present study was to track the basic traits and trends in beach volleyball games played in the last three Olympics. To this purpose the set and game scores, as well as the time durations of all 320 beach volley games played by men and women in the three consecutive Olympics of Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 were recorded. The odds of two to three set games remained relatively constant to the value of 2:1, throughout the three Olympiads, as well as the mean number of points played both in two set games (74.6±6.1) and three set games (104.3±7.4), but there was a significant decrease of the mean game time. For the two set games this time was reduced from 42.6±4.9 minutes to 38.3±4.7 minutes, while for three set games it was reduced from 61.7±6.6 minutes to 55.5±5.8 minutes. This is the consequence of the significant reduction of mean rally duration from 34.7±2.8 seconds to 31.3±2.1 seconds. The mean rally duration in the men’s games remained significantly greater than the mean rally duration in the women’s games by roughly 1.5 seconds. Overall in two set games the proportion of sets with the minimal two-point difference is 22.6%, while in three set games it rises to 37.0%. In conclusion beach volley matches played in the last three Olympics rarely last longer than one hour, they take place in more “natural” conditions and a high proportion of them is being decided in the third tiebreaker-set also having a high proportion of sets with a tight point difference. These facts rank beach volley as played in the Olympics as a very competitive sport event, enjoyable and exciting to watch, both as a spectator and as a TV watcher.
Keywords: Beach volleyball; Time characteristics; Olympics.