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In all areas of the country there are primarily 5 levels of adult volleyball competitiveness. They are Beginner, B, BB, A, and AA. (Well, there are 6 if you add in professional/Olympic.) These are classifications that are used by USAVolleyball, the United States' governing body for adult non-professional volleyball.
I googled around the web to find definitions for these levels and could not find any. This is an attempt to define these classifications.
If one were to call themselves a BB player, that may be interpreted differently if they were in, say, Hawaii or Southern California than if they were in Georgia or South Carolina. No offense to GA or SC but things are different around the country in volleyball. But generally, the definitions below can be used. I encourage you to please discuss this if you feel differently.
Recreational - A "Recreational" player is a Beginner. A Recreational player should know the basics of volleyball and played some volleyball before, but he/she is just beginning to bump, set, and spike. A Recreational player should not RSVP to an event which includes "BB" or "A" level or Advanced players.
B - - A "B" player is still in the early learning stages of the game but knows the skills. A "B" player knows how to bump, set (a little), and spike. But a "B" player has a lot of practice yet to go to be able to do these skills consistently. A "B" player makes mistakes often.
BB - A "BB" player knows where to be on the court at all times when plays are developing. He/she knows where to be when the opponent is hitting. A "BB" player knows the footwork of and how to approach hitting effectively. A "BB" player knows how to run a 5-1, a 6-2, and needlessly, a 4-2. To see videos of BB level volleyball click here or here.
A - An "A" player is somewhere between "BB" and "AA". They know all the skills extremely well but cannot always execute the super-high level plays extremely effectively all the time. "A" players can run combination plays in a basic way if passes are good. That includes slides, tandems, x's, crosses, and back-row hitting.
AA - Nearly Olympic. Or at least able to dig an Olympic Player's attack hit or able to once in a while put a ball down as a hitter against an Olympic Team. OK. No one can ever put a ball down against an Olympic defense. But an adult AA team of players would be able to beat a college Division I team of their same sex at least some of the time.
Skill Level Descriptions for Leagues and Tourneys
C – Novice – Happy to get the ball over the net, very vague understanding of the rules, generally only plays 6×6 leagues
B – Beginner level – Is gaining ball control, can get it over the net, has an understanding of the rules and the concept of three hits, plays 6×6 and some 4×4
BB – Intermediate – Practices the 3 hit concept, can overhand serve, understands the positions and has decent court mobility, some 6×6 but mostly 4×4 and 2×2
A – Advanced – Has good ball control, consistent passing, setting, and hitting. Plays 4×4 and 2×2
AA – Expert – These players know who they are!
BEACH VOLLEYBALL SKILL LEVELS
*Experienced Indoor Players... But NEW to Beach?
You may want to start at a skill level slightly below your indoor level, until you get acclimated to the flow of the game (whether fours, threes, or doubles), and the evil sand monster that will noticeably slow your defense, and take a several inches off your vertical. You use all volleyball skill sets in beach volleyball, so work hard on your weakest skills (passing, defense, pass-setting and hand-setting, etc.).
"Rec" or "D" Level (sometimes called Picnic Players)
"Recreational" players are pretty much total beginners. There's nothing the matter with it, as everybody starts here! Recreational players often do not know even the very basics of volleyball, or have only recently been introduced to them. Recreational players will be just learning the fundamentals of the bump, set, and spike. Rec players have a great time meeting folks and making friends, while they enjoy the game under significantly loosened rules. In some sports, Rec is "D" level. Until I can see a discernible difference between Rec "D" Beginners and what may be labeled "C" Level, anything below the "B" Intermediate Level at Alpharetta Beach will be considered Rec.
"B" Level is Intermediate
"B" players are still in the learning stages, but have had much more time in the game and have thus become a bit more familiar with the individual skillsets used in the game. "B" players are beginning to get comfortable with the bump, set, and spike, and are trying to use 3 hits more often, but have a good bit of time and practice yet in order to play the game skillfully. "B" players make a good bit of mistakes, but they can often see where they want their skills to be, and are working towards that place. B players are getting a bit of consistency with their touches, but have not yet gained the ability to make consistent shots or clean contacts like BB players can. B players often welcome advice from more skilled players, so don't be afraid to ask for tips from better players.
"BB" Level is High-Intermediate
"BB" players know where to be on the court at all times, and are consistent with their contacts most of the time. BB players generally know where to be defensively most of the time, and are can see open spots to allow their hits and shots to be more effective to earn points offensively. While some BB players still can work their way to becoming A or better, many BB players have hit their ceiling for development due to individual abilities. Those BB players that want to grow their skills should always feel comfortable to ask more skilled players. It's amazing how for example you can have 25 folks explain how to set, but the way the 26th person explains it is the magic key that changes your setting skills forever. Keep asking.
"A" Level is Competitive
"A" players know all the skills extremely well, but still often do not always execute the super-high level plays extremely effectively. "A" players will periodically have nearly fault free games, but generally make a few less than perfect or less than effective plays each game that should have been done better. "A" players are also often limited by their own physical characteristics, that prevent them from ever getting much better. For this reason, "A" level is often the best a player will ever get. While some "A" players will ask for advice, often they don't want to hear or take advice as much, because they're full of themselves and think they know everything. For that reason, please don't tell me what to do - haha.
This is about as good as it gets in Atlanta, though there are a couple folks that have greater potential. "Open" Players usually keep to themselves and set up private gatherings to play, so they can best regulate their competition. Totally valid, so don't put a hex on 'em. Instead look for opportunities to watch them play.
I'd be glad to run some Open events here at Alpharetta Beach, but you Open players are very limited in numbers. If you are Open, I hope you'll reach out to me if you're interested in having activities here, so we can work a bit off your other Open Player connections to fill any events Alpharetta Beach may host for you.
Not sure where you fit in? Feel free to give me a call, and I'll see if I can define you over the phone, or get you out here for a few minutes to show me what you're bringing.
This is for grass doubles, but some of the things are transferable and it gives you a general idea. There are probably better descriptions for indoor
EDIT: as pointed out below, these vary widely by region. Also, the key to the descriptions is consistency. If you can do it occasionally/by luck, it doesn't really count
I can only bump set the ball. (B level)
I have decent hands when it comes to setting (BB).
I can jump set the ball and/or run plays (A/AA)
I underhand serve or can do a basic overhand serve. B
I overhand serve and can place the ball pretty much where I aim. BB
I can do special kinds of serves - like jump serves A/AA
What? In doubles?! B
I'm working on it, but not great yet. BB
I can block, and call what I'm blocking so my partner can cover the rest. A
I can switch up my calls on blocking at the last minute, or recover from a block by still passing it if it lands near me. AA/+
I can hit the ball, but my aim isn't that great. B
I can hit a hard driven ball on a good set. BB
I can hit the ball down, cross court and line. A
I can hit within the 10 foot line. AA