When you start practicing beach volleyball you might feel that it’s pretty much easy and that if you already know how to play traditional volleyball you will face no problem adapting to beach volleyball. Even if previous knowledge of this sport is undoubtedly an advantage, you might soon discover that both sports are not the same. As passionate as we are about this sport, we have tried to give you some general advice that we hope will help you to become the pro player you have dreamt to become.
Start for the beginning and learn the basics
Learning to move effectively on the sand is the most difficult adjustment an indoor volleyball player must make when playing beach volleyball. Often, players stumble or fall before executing. A player will need a good year of training (possibly even longer) before being nimble and efficient on the sand. Some characteristics that you must keep in mind when playing beach volleyball are:
- Minimize the movement of sand
- Be prepared to move in any direction
- Movements of more than four meters are common
- Keep the sand level
The serve reception (or pass) is the most important technique in beach volleyball. Ironically, many beach volleyball players spend relatively little time practicing their serve technique, even though it is so important to being successful. Beach volleyball coaches should reiterate the importance of developing strong serve receiving skills.
Both players on the ground should stand about six meters from the net and an equal distance from each other at the back of the field, two or three meters from the sidelines. It is important to be prepared to respond to the serve. The wind direction and the type of serve (rotating or floating) will have a great effect on the trajectory of the serve. To facilitate the next pass, all first passes should be at a constant height of three to five meters at a distance of one to three meters from the net.
Working as a team. The capital importance of the synergy in the team
The pass is one of the most complex techniques in beach volleyball and involves four different actions: preparation, passing, taking off, and covering.
Preparation. Before his partner delivers the ball to him on the serve, the passer (the player not receiving the service) should move from his serve receiving position to his partner’s serve receiving target. This preparation is done by moving, under control, with a crossed step while looking at the other player. This movement must be done under control so that the passer can change direction to move towards an off-target pass. The player running towards the target of the pass will have difficulty changing direction if the pass is not perfect.
The pass. There are two ways to pass the ball in beach volleyball: a cuff or a touch.
- Forearm passing. This allows you to have more control and is the preferred method of passing (similar to indoor volleyball).
- Overhead passing. Players can be successful at beach volleyball without hitting any hits. However, no player can be successful without a good cuff technique. Execution of a cuff is necessary when a pass is a too low or off target, or the winds are strong. Some players who have difficulty making the keys will only make headlines. It is crucial when a player makes a cuff that the passer is behind and not directly under the ball.
Call of the defense. When the players have made their pass, they should immediately communicate information on the opponent’s defensive strategy or call their partner (the attacker). The correct call must be made clearly and in a loud voice so that the attacker recognizes the call and modifies his attack. The call must contain useful information for the attacker. Saying words like “Crush him”, “Go on” or “Blocker at the net” will not give the attacker useful information. The call usually points to the spot on the field where a bunt will score a point or where there is no blocker at the net. Here are some examples of typical calls: “line”, “cross (or “in the corner”)” or “person” (indicating that there is no blocker).
Cover the attack. After the pass is completed and the call has been properly communicated, the passer’s next responsibility is to cover the attack. This is the moment, just before the attacker makes contact when the passer must look to the blocker to cover the attack from his opponents. Immediately after the attack is completed, the passer must be ready to chase any ball that is recovered and aimed directly over the net.
Defeating the rival: The art of the attack
The powerful attack, like a basketball slam-dunk, is an impressive conclusion to a successful rally. However, a beach volleyball player needs more than an attacking stroke to be successful at the net. A beach volleyball player who attacks each pass will eventually be countered by a great blocker, the ball will be picked up by a good defensive player or he will make typing errors due to fatigue caused by the heavy expenditure of energy on each pass and each attack. The key to success for a beach volleyball forward is to be unpredictable or unreadable to the defensive opponent. By inserting well-placed attacks from time to time, beach volleyball players will keep their opponents off balance and retain more energy than attacking each pass. The best beach volleyball players possess a powerful attack and the ability to place bounces.
The description and technical progression for an attack in beach volleyball are the same as in indoor volleyball. The additional element on sand is mastery of three types of drops (coiled attack, push attack and knuckle attack) and the four different targets (short on the line, long on the line, short diagonally, and long on the diagonal).
The approach. As with all movements on the sand, beach volleyball attackers should be “light on their feet” to avoid wedging in the sand when approaching for an attack. This is the major difference between the sand approach and the indoor approach.
The smash. This is the cornerstone on which all beach volleyball attackers build their attacking strategy. Opponents must be convinced that a smash is a distinct possibility. The real threat of a smash will force the blocker to jump and the defender to retrieve the ball to make the opponent more susceptible to the attacker’s shock absorbers. With reduced jump due to sand, a beach volleyball attacker must have good arm extension (right arm) and a high point of contact when performing an attack.
The key to a successful game is to hide your intentions until the last minute. This is accomplished by approaching and jumping with the same explosive mechanics as for an attack but playing deadening at the last moment.
Defending is as important as the attack: balance is key
Spectacular defensive play is the most exhilarating technique of all in beach volleyball. Whether it’s a recovery from a fierce attack or a spectacular dive to keep the ball in play, good defensive play creates excitement. The defense is synonymous with beach volleyball, and most beach volleyball players have excellent defensive skills.
The importance of defense – the ability to defend against an attack – cannot be overstated in beach volleyball. A beach volleyball team can use superior defensive skills to defeat much larger opponents with better-attacking skills. However, the importance of a good beach volleyball defense is also very elusive – it takes years of training to become a good beach defender.
A good defense starts with attitude – a player must want the ball back. A defensive player should get into the starting position just before the attacker contacts the ball. The defensive starting position is like the basic starting position:
- The feet are spread a little more than the width of the shoulders
- Knees are bent
- Hips and shoulders face the attacker
- The arms are in front and away from the body
What equipment you might need to play beach volleyball effectively?
Whether you play when the good weather arrives or now and then during your vacation, it is important to be well equipped for beach volleyball! Mistakes when choosing what you wear or the equipment could lead you to a terrible experience or, what is worst, to have an accident or to injure you and the other players.
For 13 years, did you know that there were dress rules to follow during beach volleyball competitions? Indeed, women had to wear a bikini and men, a tank top and swim shorts. For women, the rule has changed, and they can play now in long sleeves and pants. Unfortunately, for men, the rule has not yet been applied. Today, some beach volleyball players still prefer to play in bikinis, for the sake of comfort with the sand and the heat it can bring during tournaments.
Professional beach volleyball shorts have been specially designed to be very light and fluid to properly support all your movements during practice. Besides, it effectively wicks away perspiration. Its loose fit also prevents the sand from “getting stuck” (it’s annoying and it sticks) and therefore allows its evacuation. Comfort it’s necessary so you can focus on the game.
Next, think of the iconic beach volleyball product: the bra. Clever in its design, it meets your beach volleyball needs. You will find in many marketplaces the one reversible, with its 2 numbers (1 & 2) which were designed for a pair of players. You just must turn it over to see the second number appear and enjoy a different design also. The racerback of the bra will facilitate your movements and its lightness ensures maximum comfort during the game as well as good support adapted to your practice! Pairing your bra with a tank top is possible! It’s also been designed to be lightweight and wick sweat away while playing, preventing sand from sticking to your outfit, and providing maximum comfort.
Both sides are important
For the men, on their side, shorts and a tank top and HOP, you’re ready! The “shirtless” being prohibited during competitions, you will have no choice but to wear a tank top. (unless you practice freely with friends during your vacation …). In this case, the tank top provides you with comfort during practice thanks to its lightness and its fabric easily wicks perspiration. Just like the shorts!
Having fun when you practice a sport is obvious, but you need to be properly equipped. Who says beach volleyball says sun! Who says sun says dazzling! If you are an avid beach volleyball player and you practice it intensively, don’t forget to wear a pair of sunglasses. Your eyes are very exposed to many stresses during the game, hence the importance of wearing them. They will guarantee you maximum protection against the sun thanks to its category 3 index, against sand and water reflections thanks to its polarized lenses. Also, when you buy your glasses you must consider an ergonomic shape that will allow the glasses to hold excellent on your face during the practice phases.
Regardless of the destination, when the sun comes out, it worth it to be well protected. So, think about wearing a cap or a visor. These will protect you against the sun but not only. They also play a role in the management of perspiration and prevent it from blurring your vision during the game, from having itchy eyes and suddenly from losing a point stupidly!
Don’t forget the most important thing: protect your skin before embarking on a game on the beach. We are never too careful! So, remember to apply your sunscreen to all the visible parts of your body that are not protected. Your skin will thank you!
For the finishing touch, a pair of flip flops may be needed when you walk across the beach on hot sand to the field. It would be a shame if you didn’t make it that far.