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What to Expect at a Grass Volleyball Tournament

You are playing in a grass volleyball tournament soon. What do you need to know before you show up at the fields?


There’s a lot of insider information that can help you prepare for a full day of volleyball. We want you to know exactly what to expect!

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Bring snacks, water, and a tent

Take a second to reflect on what you need to enjoy a whole day while being active outdoors.


Here’s what to pack in your cooler:

  • Water – always bring more than you think you will need!

  • Snacks – fan favorites include peanut butter pretzels, pickles, and fruit!

  • Lunch – make a sub or two and bring it... there may or may not be concessions or food trucks at the tournament site!

Bring these items to stay comfortable throughout the day:

  • Towel or blanket

  • Beach chair

  • Tent

Also, if you do own a volleyball, bring it! It’s handy to have your own volleyball for warm-ups.


Other players will likely have balls to use for games, but having an extra ball on hand lowers the amount of shagging you'll need to do on your net. Currently, the AVP Optx is the go-to tournament ball at most outdoor events.

AVP Optx volleyballs on grass

Your clothing is a big deal

Pretty weird to say about a sporting event, right? If we had to guess, you care about being comfortable. Picking the right clothes for the day can make or break your experience.


Most people wear workout gear for grass volleyball tournaments, but you can wear whatever you want! Some people wear bikinis or swim trunks. Some wear spandex and tank tops. Some wear sweat pants and long sleeves!


The best hack we can offer is to bring extra clothes! This allows you to change if you get too sweaty or add a layer if you get too cold. Another bonus is that you will have something clean and dry to put on when you are done playing.


No matter what style you choose- double-check the forecast the night before the tournament. Even if it won't be a sunny day, plan out how you will protect yourself from the sun (sunscreen, hat, etc.).


Choose your teammate(s) wisely

Typically, you’ll register with your teammate(s) in advance. Touch base with your partner(s) about what time they are going to show up to the fields, what they are bringing with them, and what kind of expectations they have for the day to make sure you are on the same page.


It’s important to make sure your partner(s) are a good fit and that they are someone you want to spend the whole day with! If you do well at the tournament, you are going to log some quality time together for sure!

When both you and your partner(s) arrive at the event, be sure to follow the tournament host's check-in procedures. This allows the tournament to start on time. Don't be that team that shows up late!


Tournament structure

Grass volleyball tournament formats can be a little different than other volleyball experiences you may have had indoor or at the beach. Some important context will help you understand the day. Reviewing the tournament rules in advance can also make you feel more at ease.


Grass Volleyball Terms Defined

There's a good amount of special lingo associated with this sport. These basic definitions should help you with what you need for your first tournament.

  • Net – your team will be assigned to one volleyball court to play on

  • Pool play – your regular schedule of games, against the teams on your net

  • Come off the net – refers to qualifying for playoffs

  • Divisions – tournament play is separated by levels; these are the most common, increasing in skill level as you go down the list:

  • B (beginner)

  • BB

  • A

  • AA

  • Open (highly advanced)

There are two phases of an outdoor volleyball tournament – pool play and playoffs. Your performance in pool play determines whether you proceed to playoffs.


Points per Set

Most grass tournaments feature two sets against each team on your net. (Disclaimer: at Gainesville Volleyball we usually only play one set, but playing two sets is very common in the Carolinas). Open players often play full matches during pool play.


In between games

Don’t go too far when you aren’t up to play! Teams referee each other's games, so you’ll be expected to ref some of the other games on your net! Check your pool schedule to find out when it is your responsibility to be a ref.


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Who comes off the net?

The tournament director should tell you how many teams are coming off each net. The total number of teams registered for the tournament plays a big role in determining this number – it can vary greatly from tournament to tournament.


Make friends & have fun

Finally, the point of a tournament is to have a good time with people who love to play volleyball! Befriend the other players on your net and make connections.


Group of grass volleyball players at Gainesville Volleyball tournament

Don’t be afraid to go watch other divisions when you have the chance and consider sticking around for playoffs even if you didn’t advance. The high-level games at the end of the day are a blast to watch.


Head over to Gainesville Volleyball to stay in the loop about our upcoming events and leagues. Our marquee Grassroots Coed 4’s tournament takes place on Saturday, June 19 and you don’t want to miss out on the party!

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