We’ve had an incredible summer already with seven epic AVP tournaments around the nation and some of our top AVP athletes representing the United States at the Rio Summer Olympic Games. How do we top off a season this exciting? With one last hoorah, as the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour makes its return to Chicago for the AVP Championships Presented by Acer.  You’re not going to want to miss all the incredible beach volleyball action on the shores of Lake Michigan all within view of Chicago’s beautiful skyline.
The AVP team is excited to announce two rule trials that will be instituted at this tournament related to let service situations and the scoring format once a team reaches match point. The AVP is always looking to find new ways to better the sport of beach volleyball, and so, they’ll be testing these rule changes in Chicago. Before this season began, the AVP met with the players’ committee, as well as a group of core officials, ensuring that the changes were in the best interest of both the athletes as well as fans of the sport of beach volleyball. Stafford Slick, a member of the 2016 player’s committee, had this to say, “For many years the rest of the world looked to the AVP to see how the sport of beach volleyball should be played. These rule changes have put us back in that spotlight once again. I am excited to play a part in this process, and look forward to putting these innovative ideas into action at the AVP Championships in Chicago.”
Since its inclusion in the sport, the permissive “let” serve that drops for a point has been highly criticized for essentially rewarding a team with a mistaken shot.  Our first new rule mimics the professional tennis serving rules and will be implemented the following way:
-If a “first” serve touches the net and stays inbounds on the opponent’s side of the court, no point is awarded, but the serving team earns a second service attempt.
-The “second” service attempt must be “clean” with no net touch to be considered legal and playable..
-If the “second” serve touches the net again, regardless of where it lands, it’s ruled as a missed serve and point awarded to receiving team.
While we have come to understand and appreciate the need for rally scoring in the sport of beach volleyball, ending a match on a missed opportunity from the opposing team isn’t a great way to finish a match, for the fans or the athletes.  The second rule change will prevent that situation with the hybrid scoring system.  The hybrid scoring system allows for consistency of rally scoring throughout the match, but then transitions to side-out scoring for match point, so the team with the lead needs to “earn” their match point.  The second rule change will be implemented as follows:
-Once a team reaches potential match point (has to be in either the 2nd and/or 3rd set), scoring will revert to the side-out method for the remainder of the set.
-Both teams will then be subject to side-out scoring for the remainder of the match.
-A team must serve in order to score a point in side-out scoring format, and ultimately to win the match.
-There will be no additional time-outs allocated to any set that is converted to side-out scoring.
-All sets converted to side-out scoring will still require a team to win by 2 or more points.
Again, these two rule changes will be tested at this weekend’s Championships and the effects will be analyzed following the tournament.  Our hope is that these rules will better the sport as a whole, for the athletes and the fans watching in person and on TV. These new rules, however, are not permanent changes and will be open for reconsideration following the tournament.
While change always brings up questions and new challenges, we know one thing for sure … The AVP Championships Presented by Acer is going to be an amazing weekend of beach volleyball, and you’re not going to want to miss a second of it.