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The Story Behind The Sand


Sand. You see it in playgrounds, in construction and at every beach across the world. 

But we’re pretty sure no one takes sand as seriously as we do at the AVP. We’re also pretty sure our fans (and even some of our athletes) don’t realize the attention to detail needed for selecting sand and bringing the AVP Tour to life. We all can agree that sand is the most crucial surface of a professional beach volleyball tour, right?

With that said, we want to peel back the curtain to give you a glimpse into the world of sand and why the athletes benefit from our staff nerding out over sand. (Yes, nerding out over sand is possible).

The following interview was conducted with Andrew Young, AVP’s Director of Operations.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the AVP doesn’t need sand for the SoCal events. But where do you get sand for other events?

For some events like Austin and our previous NYC location, we utilize community beach volleyball courts for some of our outer courts (Court 1 – 3). However, even if a venue has some community courts, we always need to purchase tons (literal tons) of sand to build Stadium Court, enhance current courts and build other courts. We purchase sand from local rock, dirt, and sand quarries.

Does this effect where the AVP chooses to run tournaments throughout the country?

100%. This is one of many deciding factors, but as an Ops team, purchasing and moving sand is a logistic we cannot avoid. We love sand!

We see sand all over, but is it safe to assume there is a level of quality needed to make it ‘AVP sand?’ I mean, the athletes are diving all over and in it…

Yes, we are very particular with the sand we purchase to uphold the highest level of quality. The AVP has a Sand Quality Spec Sheet that is used when making any orders. Here are our requirements:

  • Fine gravel, 2.0mm in particle diameter, 0% retained on sieves*
  • Very coarse sand, 1.0 – 2.0mm in particle diameter, 0 – 6% ret. on sieves
  • Coarse sand, .5 – 1.0mm in particle diameter, Minimum of 80% ret. on sieves
  • Medium sand, .25 – .5mm in particle diameter, Maximum of 92% ret. on sieves
  • Fine sand, .15 – .25mm in particle diameter, 7 – 18% ret. on sieves
  • Very fine sand, .05 – .15mm in particle diameter, Not greater than 2% ret. on sieves
  • Silt and clay, Below .05mm in particle diameter, Not greater than .15% ret. on sieves

*% retained on sieves: The amount (by weight) of a sand sample that does not pass through a series of sieves (strainers), compared to the weight of the entire sample

Ensured particle size requirements allow for on-court drainage and the ability to handle all weather conditions. The following sand qualities are recommended: physical properties, be naturally weathered, be sub angular/rounded, not acquired from a crushed rock source, and free of organic material.

Wow, I had no idea there was such a formula. This applies for all AVP tournaments?

Yup. Of course, each location may be a little different since we purchase locally, but it must fall within those same ratios.

How much sand is needed to run a typical tournament?

We use anywhere from 300 to 350 tons of sand per court. At non-SoCal events, we typically run 4 courts including Stadium. So, that’s roughly 1,200 – 1,400 tons.

That’s a lot… So how does it physically get to a tournament?

The AVP Ops and Competition teams get together (after many site visits to the potential venue) and decide on the amount and then find a local source in each venue (obviously ensuring their sand quality falls within our spec sheet). After that we work directly with the local sand quarry to have them truck over the sand and distribute it at the venue.

Given that you have three events in SoCal and no sand is purchased, does that sand pass the quality test of the AVP?

Of course! SoCal is the birthplace of beach volleyball and it’s where almost all of our athletes practice and play daily. 

For the three SoCal events, can you give us some intel on that sand quality (besides knowing that it falls in line with the AVP Quality Spec Sheet)?

For the average beach goer, you aren’t able to tell the difference between the sand of Huntington Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. But the pros and the Ops team KNOW! The biggest difference from our Ops team’s point of view is the depth of the sand.  The deepest sand is as follows: 1) Hermosa Beach 2) Manhattan Beach and 3) Huntington Beach. This is based on how hard it is for our team to drive the equipment through the sand and how often our equipment gets stuck. We hear all the pros saying Manhattan Beach has the deepest sand, but we aren’t playing in it so for that, you might just need to ask them.

We see it’s an AVP motto to leave the beach (or venue) cleaner than you found it. What do you do with all that purchased sand once the tournament is done?

There are many options for the life of sand after an AVP event. First and foremost, we look to work with any local beach/sand volleyball groups who might be in need of new, high-quality sand. If so, we work to get them the sand as we want to continually invest in the sport. Second, we work with the city to see if we can donate some to any other local organizations, or even the city itself. In some cases, we can send it back to the quarry for sanitation and reuse. 

Thanks so much for the insight! Sounds like a lot more work than the average person thought.

We haven’t even discussed the Court Crew that maintains and cares for sand and courts during competition… but that’s for another day.

Category: Beach Volleyball 101, From Our Beach

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