The beauty of beach volleyball is it needs only minimal equipment, and you do it outdoors in a fun environment. All that one needs to get a game started is a small free patch of sand at the beach (each side of a ‘court' is usually 8 x 8 metres), a net, a beach volleyball (smaller than the ones used for indoor volleyball) and the players. In a competitive match, there are two players per side, but when it is a group of friends or a family gathering, everybody is invited to jump in as long as the number of players on each side is equal. And you know what, it's one of the most fun ways of losing your tummy and getting that coveted flat stomach!

The rules are pretty simple and combine elements of tennis and basketball. One team serves by one player striking the ball with their hand from behind the rear boundary of his side. The ball must go directly go into the other team's side, but they (and you) must make sure it doesn't touch the ground.

The objective is to gain points by getting the ball to touch the ground on the opponent's side. This could happen through one's own skill in guiding the ball or by the opponent's fault. Each team is allowed a maximum of three contacts with the ball before ‘passing' it over to the other side. The games are played for the best of 3 sets, first two being played for 21 points and the decider for 15 points. The teams must switch sides after every 7 points.

The primary maneuvers are setting, attacking and blocking. Setting is when the ball is put into position to be attacked next. Attacking is typically smashing the ball with the palms of the hand with a downward trajectory so that the ball may hit the ground on the opposition's side. Blocking is the skill by which one tries to prevent the attack from happening and attempting to push the ball back into the opponent's court itself.

As one can see, the game involves a fair bit of physical activity and body strength, particularly in the arms, torso and thighs. If you are attempting to take this game up seriously, it is advisable to work-out specific body parts to gain an upper hand. Training the thighs and hamstring (leg press, squats, lunges) and shoulders (overhead press) will give you the necessary strength in the muscles to play an explosive game of beach volleyball.

Can't hit the gym today? Well, beach volleyball is a fun way to spend time with family and friends and is also a fantastic workout for the upper and lower body which helps to get lovely toned legs and reduce that tummy. Now you have even more reason to head to the beach.

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