The Life and Times of an International Beach Volleyball Scorer

Beach volleyball scoring – what could be different ?!!

I initially went to a beach volleyball scoring course run by Shelly Paterson.  Shelly ran a theoretical course in St. Andrews near the start of the beach season and as a result of this I was invited down to score at the CEV English Masters and the SWATCH FIVB Junior World Championships in Blackpool along with Shelly and Sue Kee.

On the first day, the scorers met for a session on the scoresheet, then it was up to the courts to get kitted out ready for September weather (shorts/T-shirt/plastic rain jacket), and then it was time to get the Country Quota matches started. Only a few games so didn’t get a chance to score but got a chance to see what was required. Qualification day – a bit worried haven’t filled a score sheet out in a tournament but need not worry – paired up with an experienced scorer – Shelly. Qualification day wasn’t too bad, assigned out to court 4 only 3 games on this court. So got a chance to fill out a score sheet (only had a couple of errors) and be an assistant (the assistant job consists of indicating who is to serve, tell second official when court switches/technical time out are due).

First day of the Main draw, all courts were to have full action from 0900 to 1900.  Our team were to be on centre court, ah the luxury.  The sun streamed in, sheltered from the wind, sun cream on, hard to believe we were in Blackpool.  Plenty of scoring opportunities. Plenty of action on court, front row seat. What a great job.  We saw the GB girls win, world champions playing, and teams from 11 different countries. Scoring became an easy task in great surroundings.

GBR girls get to semis!

Next day we’re back out onto an outside court and we had four games to do. Away from the booming of the centre court music, away from the crowds and back to the burger van smells. But the sun still shone. The games went on with no hassle. Scoring became an easy task – only the odd stupid error.  Semi-finals time – the GB girls were there. The first time a GB team has managed to get so far. Shelly was selected as scorer for this game, and I was her assistant. Unfortunately the girls lost.

Finals day. The groups were mixed up a bit. Sue Kee was given the honour of scoring the women’s final and I was selected to score the Men’s 3/4 Play-off. All the games were going to be streamed live on the internet, so scorers were under pressure to ensure that they did not cause a problem with the scoresheet that might hold up the game. The sun again bathed the centre court. Officials, scorers, line judges all marched in together all part of the show. By this time scoring was easy, second nature, nae problems.

Centre court

So that was the CEV event, and onto the SWATCH FIVB Junior World Championships.  Shelly and I stayed on for this as well. Sue unfortunately had to miss out – work just gets in the way!

As international beach volleyball tournaments are new to the UK Concentrating...shores, the FIVB required that scorers and line judges get some training from them.  Monday morning briefing included an overview of requirements of officials in the run up to London 2012 and the Games itself.  Damien Searle, referee in Beijing, gave us a presentation from his experience and gave an insight into some of the things you don’t see at the Olympics. The afternoon was dedicated to looking at scoring. Yup, seen it the week before but this time a wee bit more in depth.  Day 2 of training – line judging. This time the scorers were joining in with the line judges. The referees put a lot of input into ensuring that we were standing in the proper place, signalling appropriately, and showing ball marks when asked.

Qualification day.  Assigned to centre court, new team this time, same weather.  Only six games today. A nice easy day for scoring and I feel as though I have been doing this forever. A perfect score, the referees rate the scorers/line judges/rakers out of 5 and I was there! I was the scorer.

And onto the tournament proper, I was demoted to an outside court. We were going to be busy with 9 games to be played so it was 0900 to 1800 day. A few errors but nothing major – easily covered up! I did mention to the referee that the preprinted data on the score sheet was wrong, in typical European fancy waved off with an ‘it is okay’.  All the scorers were receiving praise for how well the score sheets were being filled in, I had still not had any awkward moments, for example Medical time outs, red cards so had few comments to be included on my score sheets.  I am sure Shelly was picking her games as she was frequently filling in remarks all of which have to be laid out in a particular order.

As we arrived the next morning, I was approached by one of the referees asking if I remembered about a certain score sheet – at that moment all I could think of what I had done wrong, but it was in fact he wanted to congratulate me on pointing out the error on the preprinted score sheet.  Fame as a scorer after only a short time!

I was in with a different group of scorers, still on the outside court, but away from the burger van, lovely view of the North Pier and Blackpool Tower. It was another full day as the round robin matches were to be completed.  No problems with the scoring, a couple of yellow cards – easy stuff.

Outside court

The last two days of the championships, if you lose you are finished. This was where we were warned the players’ temperament could be tested. Another change around in scorers, and back to the burger van. The scoring bit, been doing it for years (it seemed) and it meant you always had a front row seat. Shelly had another medical time-out, I am getting envious. Games were very competitive. I did once reach for my help sheets as I thought some tactical time wasting was coming in one of my games but no such luck.

Last day. Semis, 3/4 play-offs, and finals. I was lucky to be getting two games. A women’s semi as scorer, and the women’s final as assistant. Shelly was to score the men’s final. Sun was yet again streaming onto centre court – shorts and t-shirts weather. The girls behaved and the worst I got was a time delay. Och well I will just have to wait until next year for a medical time out to occur during my stint. All done. Great time. Great companionship. Great stories from Shelly, you can ask her about the Swiss, French, I think she has a story for every country.

Met some great people

Scoring at the two events has been an experience, to see an event of such grandeur on British soil, to be part of the event – even as a scorer you are part of a big show, you have a part to play, to be involved with so many people who are passionate about succeeding and see this as a stepping stone towards being in an even bigger show … the Olympics.

If you would like to get involved in officiating, in any way, on the Scottish Beach Volleyball Tour and even taking it further to officiate at the Olympic Games in London 2012, then please drop an email to the SVA Office.


Iain Cook