A two photos have been floating around the web of screenshots from an FIVB email today. This email outlines some rule changes for the 2014 season of The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
Volleyball Canada has confirmed that these rule changes are in fact real and will be tested at upcoming FIVB beach volleyball events.
A block contact is not counted as a team hit. Consequently, after a block contact, a team is entitled to three hits to return the ball.
This is rule change will be tested at FIVB Senior World Tour Events.
When characterizing hits, the following line has been removed from the rules:
at the first hit of the team, unless it is played overhand using fingers (exception Rule 126.96.36.199).
For this rule, "the test events for 2015 will be during the U-21 and U-23 FIVB Championships in Myslowice and Umag respectively".
A block no longer counts as a contact on the beach and you are allowed to volley the first contact. The FIVB often tests rules at different events. These events are often Youth tournaments (as is the case with the first contact rule change), Challenger events, or zonal tournaments (NORCECA, CEV, etc).
"Testing" a rule as big as blocking contact at the Opens, Grand Slams and Grand Slam Finals of the World Tour suggests that they are serious about implementing this full time. If anything, shouldn't the FIVB be testing it on a smaller scale first, then (if successful) bring it to the World Tour?
February 21st, 2014
The FIVB has officially announced the rules via this press release.
March 6th, 2014
The FIVB has officially announced the rules will no longer be tested on the FIVB World Tour and only on the U17, U19, U21 and U23 World Championships.