Some Info about (Beach) Volleyball
with a Scottish / British twist

During the winter I play indoor volleyball and during the summer I play beach volleyball. Honestly, I prefer beach volleyball, because you are more involved in all the action and consequently have to be more versatile. Also I think that it is more challenging in general, although indoor volleyball certainly is more challenging with respect to some aspects (speed, power, tactics).

Here I give some information on volleyball in general, playing in Scotland and what I have done / do in the sport in Britain. Note that I wrote this text in 2009 and some things may have changed since then, but I keep it online, because the more general things are probably still true.

Level of Play in Scotland

In terms of volleyball Scotland is a developing country. Although England is a bit stronger most things I say here apply equally to the rest of Britain. From speaking to people in NUVOC I got the impression that 20 years ago, or so, volleyball in Scotland was much stronger. Apparently most of the youth development work had been done by school teachers who at some point decided not to extend work into their free time in that way. This resulted in much less exposure of children to volleyball. Now volleyball is a small minority sport in Scotland.

National League

The National League has 3 divisions and the level of play from 1 to 3 is steeply decreasing. Even though the 1st division exhibits the highest level of volleyball in Scotland, games do not have spectators and consequently teams usually do not have sponsors. I met an Italian volleyball coach once who analysed a division 1 game and he said that the level of play is comparable to Italy's 5th league. Most teams in division 1 probably train twice a week, but the majority of members of our division 1 team don't even do that.


Scottish universities are competing against each other in 2 leagues. Obviously, with not many youngsters in the sport there can't be a lot of good players at university. So it comes that the level of a university team is often determined by the number of good foreign students who come to Scotland to go to university, but gained experience in the sport in their home countries. Consequently, there is also a high fluctuation of the level of play at each university and a team can quickly loose it's top spot in the league when a top performer returns home. For the same reason it sometimes happens that really bad teams are in the first league, because they were good the year before, but have lost their main players. On the other hand, universities which attract a lot of foreign students can sometimes field teams of reasonably high standard (e.g. Edinburgh University first men's team came 6th in Britain in 2007 and 5th in 2008). It is almost impossible to train students to a high standard with university volleyball only, if they do not have a lot of volleyball experience before joining the university, because this can't be achieved with the little amounts of training times per week that clubs get assigned from the university (in my 1st year in Edinburgh we had 1 hour per week, in the 2nd we had 2.5).
Disclaimer: I do not exclude cases where Scottish players make significant contributions to team successes which certainly happens, too. The sport is not dead after all.


Beach volleyball in Scotland is relatively young. It appears that the first tournaments have only been organised in 2005. Accordingly the beach volleyball community is rather small and I believe that we are currently the only group in Scotland training more or less regularly during the summer. Again it is players from foreign countries who make up the majority of top performers with notable exceptions, of course. Because I just started playing competitive beach volleyball here, I do not have a comparison for level of play, but I'd guess that the best teams could probably win at regional level in Germany. I have to say, though, that Scotland is not the best country for beach volleyball with it's cold, windy and rainy weather which probably explains the late adoption of beach volleyball here.

Coaching / Technique / Tactics / Analysis

Live Volleyball / Beach Volleyball in the Internet

Volleyball or beach volleyball is not a sport that gets a lot of TV coverage. To our rescue comes the versatility of the internet. With relatively little effort producers can reach very specialised communities such as the one interested in volleyball. Here is a list of providers of volleyball streams / TV with my comments roughly in order of my preference (NOTE: Some items from this list may be outdated. I made the list in 2011.): This is a special website set up by the European Broadcasting Union to stream the olympics in Beijing live in the internet. There are 12 live channels showing all sport that is on. Additionally live streams of national broadcasters who are part of the union can be watched (e.g. ZDF, ARD, FranceTelevisions, SF, YLE, NOS, TVP, TVE, STV, RAI, ORF) even though their original service might be geo blocked. Amazing service! Stream stops after 20min, but can be resumed by clicking play again. The picture might get jerky when the service is very busy. Hopefully they keep on streaming sports events after the olympics! free live coverage of the European Beach Volleyball (CEV) tour, plus volleyball and handball champions leagues, professionally produced, also has short summary videos of games, good streaming quality free live coverage of the final stages of FIVB world tour events, go to the main draw results page and look out for the "Live Streaming" link on the left menu, I haven't managed to go there on time yet, so I can't comment on quality free live coverage of the German beach volleyball tour, professionally produced, cool commentators (in German), also has archive with recordings of most important games at each event, good streaming quality part of broadcasts selected games of the German 1st volleyball league (1. Bundesliga), best quality broadcasts of this list with professional commentators, interviews etc. but it's not free (single games: 3€, all games per season: 50€, once purchased, games can also be watched in the archive), may also show games of some international volleyball tournaments with German participation links to all kinds of tv channels in the internet, go to the live sports section and select other to see a list of what's on in the next few days, often lists FIVB events both in volleyball and beach volleyball, but usually they only link to bwin, still worth a look

My Volleyball Experience

During the indoor season I play for NUVOC in the Scottish National League and Edinburgh University Volleyball Club (EUVC) in the British University Championships (see the British Universities Sports Association (BUSA) for our results). In 2005/2006 I played for the University of London Union (ULU) Volleyball Club. Even though back then I had just started playing competitive volleyball (I had been playing volleyball for a long time, just not seriously), they gave me the extraordinary opportunity to take part in the European Universities Championships 2006 in Eindhoven - a great experience for which I'm eternally grateful!

As beach volleyballer I am not directly associated to a club, but we use equipment kindly provided by NUVOC or EUVC for training on Portobello beach. In Edinburgh we have a small, but active group of competitive beach volleyballers who try to meet in Portobello for training at least twice a week. This effort is organised by Graham Riddle, best beach volleyball player in the Scottish tour in 2007. That year I played with Mauricio Lopez in the Scottish Beach Volleyball Tour and one event of the English Tour (Sandbanks). We're planning the same thing for this year. From time to time I try to organise some recreational beach volleyball sessions originally targeted for members of EUVC, but open to everyone. See facebook group EUVC beach for details.

In London I was one of the first players on the then new beach volleyball court in Shoreditch park. Why is that special? Well, it was also the first ever beach volleyball court in London. Can you imagine that? In 2007? This city has 8 Million inhabitants! Thanks again to ULU, especially to Mark Kontopoulos, who has done so much for beach volleyball in England. They now also have founded the London Beach Volleyball Club