It’s the Beach Volleyball rule that is causing heated debate and dividing opinions across the sport. 

There are fears that the new block touch rule may kill the sport as a spectacle and drive talented shorter players out of the game.

Helloworld Volleyroo Damien Schumann is one of those even though he stands at 183cm (6ft), which is by no means considered short in regular society, but on the world tour he is not among the tallest and so perhaps not surprisingly he is not a fan of the new rule.

“It’s terrible! Absolutely terrible. The FIVB continue to try and amalgamate indoor and beach volleyball but everybody loves both sports in their own right.” said Schumann.

The rule is only a trial at the moment on the World Tour, the change is that the rule now allows three touches after a block, just like in indoor volleyball where the block does not count as one of the three hits allowed to a team to return the ball.

“There are a lot of awesome similarities between beach and indoor but imagine the furore if they try to bring a beach volleyball rule into indoor. That’s never happened and never would.” said Schumann.

The FIVB say at this stage they are only testing the rule to see if makes beach volleyball even more spectacular and to ensure continued growth of the sport worldwide.

Schumann’s taller playing partner Chris Mchugh says the rule will not improve the game at the elite level.

“Beach Volleyball is a highly marketable sport as it is so why are we trying to fix something that isn’t broken?” said McHugh.

“I think it’s a bit of a step backwards in terms of the calibre of players on the world tour the new rule gives the taller players up near the 7ft mark an extra touch and more opportunity to control the ball and kill it.”

“Overall there are less rallies. I think you’ll see at the upcoming four star event in the Netherlands, where the world’s best players will be on show, exactly where the game is headed if the rule change comes in permanently. I think it will disadvantage some of the smaller players on tour.”

Schumann doesn’t believe it would push him out of the game but says he’s against the new rule because it kills the spectacle.

“It definitely isn’t a rule that would take me out of the game. It might only happen two or three times a set. It’s not that it will take me out of the game it will just kill the rallies.” said Schumann.

“The crowd for Beach Volleyball go nuts for the long rallies. So to introduce a rule that 100 per cent just shortens rallies, I don’t really understand the thought process behind that.”

McHugh agrees that his partner, and they as a team, would still be a force to be reckoned with on the world tour and would adapt to any rule change if they had to. However McHugh says if the FIVB listen to the world’s best players they’ll get a resounding no vote.

“I believe speaking to many other players that we are all on the same page that it would be a bad move for the sport moving forward.”

The test phase will continue until February 25, 2018. The data retrieved will be compared with information collected at the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in the Netherlands. In addition to the data collected, a survey involving athletes, coaches, officials, referees, event organisers and the media will gather further information. The results will be analysed by the FIVB Beach Volleyball Commission and presented to the FIVB Board of Administration.

AUDIO: Listen to Damien Schumman interview on new block touch rule

Photo Credit: Owen Hammond – APAC Sports Media