The Benefits of the Outdoor Game that will Improve your Indoor Game

  The volleyball world is seeing more and more young players getting their toes in the sand and learning the beach game.  Opportunities are increasing as beach clubs and leagues along with many indoor clubs are offering beach volleyball opportunities. Don’t be hesitant to give it a try. It may be difficult at first to earn your “sand legs”, but don’t let that shy you away from an opportunity to get better at your overall volleyball game and skills.
           Many players of all ages are improving their indoor game by playing sand doubles.  I can speak from experience, I started playing sand volleyball competitively during the summer of sophomore year of college at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. My Junior and Senior years were my most successful indoor years resulting in: twice named the Horizon League player of the Year,  AVCA Honorable Mention All-American, and AVCA All Region in 2010 and 2011. I credit a majority of that success to playing Beach!

Why should get your toes in the sand and give it a try?
1. It improves all of your volleyball skills, footwork efficiency and quickness.
2. It will increase your physical strength, stability, and vertical.
3. It forces you to work on communication, trust and relationships.
4. It will bring  your mental game and strategy for game play to a new level.

1. Skills: When playing sand doubles, you have to develop EVERY single skill of volleyball. Most of the time in indoor volleyball, you’re limited in what positions you get to play. In beach, indoor middles must learn to pass and indoor defensive specialists have to learn to hit. Most indoor coaches limit their players to positions at a very young age while they are still developing themselves. In sand doubles, there are only 2 people on the court, you don’t have to share the ball with 5 other people, just 1!

2. Physical strength, stability, footwork and vertical: With the instability of the surface it’s more challenging than indoor! Your legs become stronger and you become more agile. You’re not locked in active ankles and shoes to limit your movements. I personally think it’s the best way to learn how to dive. Also there is no room for laziness in the sand. This forces you to move your feet (FYI you can’t set the serve) and every other contact is yours! When you make the transition to indoor you will notice the increase in your vertical.

3. Communication, trust and relationships: Compared to indoor volleyball, you have only 2 people on the court. The court might be slightly smaller, but it’s still a large area to manage. Having you and your partner on the same page is a MUST. You have to work together, communicate effectively, and be able to put enough trust in each other to get the job done. You can’t do everything on your own and you also learn to take ownership of your mistakes. With all that being said, your relationship skills start to increase.


4. Your mental game and strategy play: Sand doubles is all about strategy. Who are you going to serve? Are they weaker at moving forward, backwards, left or right? Who is the weaker setter? Does your opponent have tendencies that can be exploited? It’s very similar to a chess game. So many questions to think about before stepping foot on the court. Remember since there are only 2 people on the court you have much more court space to consider.
          Indoor volleyball has 3 offensive attacks: tip, swing and swing harder. With so many bodies on the court, a lot of players just swing and pray they get the point! And if you’re still in your younger years, you just pray you get the ball over the net. In the outdoor game you have so many shots you have to learn: swing line, roll high line, roll short line, cut cross, pokey deep and more.  With all these different shots you become less tunnel visioned and start to see the court better. Once again, when you go back to the indoor game, you will see the court so much better and be better at analyzing your opponents defense and the holes in it.


With that being said I STRONGLY suggest and challenge you to play sand doubles. Not for fun and games, but competitively for the purpose of bettering yourself. Who knows maybe it will open your eyes to a whole new world!


Tis the Season for Giving Tips/Giveaways

Tips on how to become a professional player.

I’ve been approached multiple times in the past year with the same questions. How did you do it? How did you get to where you are now? I’ve compiled a few tips from own experience and some other pros on tour to help you with your journey of becoming a professional volleyball player. ENJOY!

MY #1 TIP

ENJOY YOUR JOURNEY AND DON’T COMPARE - Looking back at my journey I'm starting to realize how my puzzle was being put together. The timing, “the why’s” and “the how comes” were all being answered. In the beginning, my puzzle was a scattered mess, pieces everywhere! The border was made, but the centerpieces were slowly being put together. At the time I only saw the finished puzzle.  In my head that was the end result. A perfectly put together puzzle with no pieces missing... But how do I get there? When is the end of my journey? What do I do after my puzzle is built? Slowly understanding that my puzzle will never be finished. I started to be OK the fact that my puzzle was being put together at a different pace. It wasn't like all the other puzzles out there. It is unique. Strategically placing my pieces, I let God takeover my puzzle. (read more about enjoying the process. Nov 23)

 

Tip #2

HOW DO YOU SUPPORT YOURSELF? WHAT DO YOU DO FOR WORK? That is the number one question I always get from the up and coming.

I was never a 9-5 girl. I enjoy making my own schedule and having flexibility. I didn't want to be like everyone else. I saw how unhappy 9-5 workers would be and I refused to live like that. If you're not money driven, you can make things work. Money was never a focus for me. I made enough to survive but I never took a job that I absolutely hated, because I always choose happiness over money. Examples of a few flexible jobs: babysitting, nannying, house sit, dog sit, personal assisting, organizing and paperwork, and of course coaching.  

Before I moved to California, I owned my own coaching business so coaching was always my #1 priority. Every chance I had to coach I would make it happen. Every time I traveled I would make it a point to either play volleyball, or coach so I had an opportunity to get my trip paid for while still competing.

TIP #3 - KATIE SPEILER
“The biggest thing that helped me is to see from experience. That putting my head down and working hard really does pay off in the end. I’ve just worked hard because I want to be my best and in the end, if there is recognition for any accomplishments that’s just a bonus, but not part of my goals”
AWESOME words from Katie. If I were you, I would reread that 3 times because that could not be said any better. Thank you Katie!

TIP #4

JUST PLAY - Play as much as you can. Practice against different people and play in tournaments. Sign up for tournaments.  Get your name out there. Play against all types of players and see different situations that can happen on the court. Get exposure and experience. Network with other players. GET YOUR BUTT KICKED and be ok with it!

 

Tip #5

FIND SPONSORSHIPS - finding a sponsor will make your road a lot easier. I understand that it's difficult to ask for things, (I still have a hard time doing it) but most people want to see other people succeed!! People want to be part of your success. The worst someone could say is ‘NO’ right? Talk about your journey and your goals. People are listening!

 
TIP #6 - BILLY ALLEN
COMMIT - “Invest in yourself and train as if you’re already a professional. A lot of people dip their toes in to see if it’s right for them. You’re not going to get results that way, it’s too competitive to only be half-committed. When I started out, I only went to a couple local events a summer to save money, and people passed me by. It took committing to travel to every event and training with a partner just as serious as I was before I made the jump to the main draw.”
Great tip from Billy. Think about this, if you got a brand new job, would you just dip your toes in and decide to come into work a few times a week? If you’re going to do something, do it 100% and go all in. Thank you Billy!


TIP #7 - KELLEY LARSEN
SELF MOTIVATE- “I would say be very self-motivated and be very disciplined if you want to get to the pro level. No one is telling you when to practice, where to lift, how to recover, or what your diet should be etc…being self-disciplined in all areas is super important.” Kelley is completely correct. You don’t have a boss telling you how to live your volleyball career. You are your own boss. How bad do you want this? Thank you Kelley!

TIP #8
BUILD YOUR TEAM - You can’t do this journey on your own, you need support from other people. Build the team that’s going to help you along your journey. Who’s going to help you with sources that you can’t provide? Ex: coach, partner, recovery, phycology, workouts, product sponsors. Etc.

TIP #9- Nicolette Martin
”Roll with the punches, there’s going to be super high highs and very low lows. You just have to take everything and LEARN from everything. Just keep trucking along! Also network network, network, talk to the platers talk to the avp staff, talk to the fans, you never know who you’re going to meet through all the amazing people in this sport!” I cannot agree more with Nicolette’s words. I have me some really fabulous people along my journey thus far. Thanks Nic!

TIS THE SEASON FOR GIVING!!
If you found this helpful.  Share the latest post from Sandboxvolleyball in your Instagram story. (make sure to tag Kerri and Sandbox_volleyball) Make sure to tag a friend that could benefit from this blog. You will be put into a drawing for an Xmas giveaway from Me! (US members only) (will be picked on December 26th GOOD LUCK!

To Sum It Up

It's been about a month back in the Midwest with 1 recent surprise visit back to the west coast. So many emotions have flown through me, but the most consistent one has been happiness!! I have moved every single year (sometimes 2) since I was a freshman in college... That's 11 years!   Talk about living minimally, out of a suitcase and never really having that 'home feeling'. Talk about a life full of adventure, but no security, or stability. I now...have it all: adventure and a home (not just a house). 

Being honest, I probably wouldn't be back living in my hometown, Kaukauna, if it wasn't for the amazing human that stole my heart. He has supplied me with more love than I never knew existed in this world. I don’t even care where we live as long as I'm with him. (and there is a lumber yard and beach court nearby) 

 

I was drilled with a few questions while I was making the decision to move:

 1. But you just had your best season and now you want to leave California? 

Exactly I have more freedom now! This is the first season where I've finally figured out how to balance my life out. Volleyball is fun for me. It's not my job. It's not the only thing I'm good at. Volleyball is my #1 passion and what I love to do most, but I now have the ability to make that happened anywhere. Living in Hermosa Beach, the Mecca of volleyball, you're surrounded by it, the sun, great weather, and attractive, healthy people! You grow to take advantage if it. Back in the Midwest, that doesn't happen all year round. 

There are great sources everywhere you go, you just have to search.

 2. You want to leave this AMAZING weather?

The sun shines in the state of Wisconsin too. Weather doesn't determine your happiness. It gives you a tan and makes you feel warm but there are other sources of warmth and light. I don’t miss the smog and traffic.

3. What’s your biggest advice for people that want to move to California and chase their dream? 

It doesn’t matter where you move. You can accomplish your volleyball goals anywhere. Beach volleyball is growing rapidly. California is a great place to begin. Make connections, learn new things, explore resources, but keep your life balanced. Be patient with your journey. 

4. What are you most proud of during your time in California?

Making the move to the west coast, and figuring out life my own. Finding ME! Getting a 5th in Austin. Going through the qualifier and winning those first 2 games the next day, beating top seeded opponents while battling through that heat. 

5. What are you going to miss most about California? 

The healthy lifestyle, and adventurous mindset of everyone. But Mainly my friends

6. What was your biggest struggle?

Settling in to a new environment and finding 'my framily' (friends that become family).

Not comparing the roller coaster ride of my volleyball journey to that of my competitors. 

7. Now that you've spent time on the west coast, do you suggest young athletes to move to California? 

100% yes. If you have nothing holding you back where you are now, why not?  It's the best way to make connections and to gain recognition from other players and coaches. But if you do need to stay where you are, you can still make it work.

 

I am so happy I made the move to California to see what all the fuss was about. The last 3 years have been a wild ride. The people I've met, the loneliness, multiple adventures, non-stop travels, disappointing finishes and personal bests... I wouldn't change a thing!! 

 

In 2019, I'll be starting a beach program that will be run from my backyard; The Sandbox. Competing on the AVP tour, working on getting my workbook published along with helping Greg build cool things.

 

I am so happy that I made my move back to Wisconsin. So many awesome things happening next year! I'm ready for the next chapter in my life. I'm excited for change, and so many things to keep me occupied. I'm pumped about growing the beach game back in my hometown and I want to show kids that you can make any dream a reality no matter where you live.

The best advice I've received throughout my volleyball career

1. Volleyball is just a game. Learn to enjoy yourself and just have fun!

2. Enjoy the process (Check my earlier Blog)

3. Everyone’s journey is different. The way I get to the end result might be a completely different route than the person across the net from me. No two players travel the same path to achieve what us players are ultimately striving for. You have to stop comparing yourself to everyone else around you. That will get you nowhere productive. In fact, it will take you the opposite direction of where you want to be traveling. My past and my future will never be the same as any of opponents but that’s what makes this game so great! You were not made with the same mind, the same body or to live out the same purpose as anyone else. We are not perfect; there is no such thing as perfection, but you can work hard to be the best version of YOU. Be proud of YOU, be happy for YOU, and enjoy YOU. Just be YOU, because no one else can!


At the beginning of my beach career, I found myself comparing my journey with my opponents A LOT. "But I beat them in my first ever qualification tourney and now they are here, and I'm here. If I would have made the move to Cali sooner..." silly thoughts like this would creep in and take over my brain. I kept asking God “WHY? WHY…WHY? I don’t understand! WHY am I not seeing the end result?! I’ve worked just as hard as her. I’ve put in more work than her. I’m doing the same things as she’s doing. WHY am I going out of my way to help her?, I’m not where I want to be. WHY am I on this roller coaster? When will it be my turn? WHY did I sprain my ankle and have to start over?  WHY is my journey taking the long path? WHY am I not seeing the results I want?”

That word: WHY, sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me now.

I started to pray for patience. I prayed for guidance. I prayed to God for assistance in making the right decisions. I started to be grateful that I have the privilege to play the sport I love. On top of that I GET to coach and teach others everything that I’ve learned on my journey. The reason I started playing volleyball in high school was simply because I enjoyed it. I always had a good time, because it was fun!  And this takes me back to my number 1 piece of advice: Enjoy the game and have fun. So that is what I do today and will continue do everyday going forward. (No matter the outcome.). I refuse to compare myself to anyone around me. I’m enjoying MY JOURNEY because my journey will never be YOUR JOURNEY.