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!