"Footwork and speed are two important elements in the beach volleyball game. To improve footwork such as passing and getting to my position of hesitation before attacking or defensive footwork, I do them without the ball. Because there is no ball involved, I'll visualize the ball going high line and use the footwork to get there. Footwork patterns are so important, that my warm-up for every practice includes them. That way when I am in a drill or competition, the footwork will come naturally. On top of having the correct footwork, you also need the speed in the movements.

“Footwork and speed are two important elements in the beach volleyball game. To improve footwork such as passing and getting to my position of hesitation before attacking or defensive footwork, I do them without the ball. Because there is no ball involved, I’ll visualize the ball going high line and use the footwork to get there. Footwork patterns are so important, that my warm-up for every practice includes them. That way when I am in a drill or competition, the footwork will come naturally. On top of having the correct footwork, you also need the speed in the movements. I’ll do resisted sprints in the gym, shuffles with a TheraBand and ladder work in order to gain speed.”

Emily Day works with resisted sprints
Lauren Fendrick, 2016 Olympic hopeful, enters 2016 season as No. 1 ranked U.S. women’s team with Brooke Sweat
“In order to get faster you have to train faster. In the gym and on the sand. For instance, at practice we will sometimes perform our footwork without the ball at faster than game speed. For instance, we might do a sequence of footwork (ie. move to pass a short ball and then retreat to our approach and then do our approach footwork) and all of that is done as fast as possible. Another staple is to have a defensive series, where the defender digs a certain sequence and they are moving around the court getting into their defensive position as fast as possible. This allows ball control, speed and footwork to be combined. But like most things, be sure you have proper technique before you add speed.”

Casey Patterson, 2016 Olympic hopeful, enters 2016 season as No. 1 ranked U.S. men’s team with Jake Gibb
“Time in the sand:
The more time you spend running, jumping and sprinting in the sand the more comfortable your legs and body will feel. Especially in beach volleyball you need to build strength in your whole body. We are always cutting and leaning to make plays on the ball. It takes great balance and coordination and there are a few tips that will help speed this process along.

1. Star drill:
Start in the middle of the court and chose six spots around the edge of the court. Sprint to a spot then back to the middle until you have done all six spots. This helps with foot speed and coordination.

2. Keep moving:
A lot of times when playing beach you find yourself just short of a dig or transitioning to make a play on the ball.

Focus on speeding up and playing through the ball. Don’t think of the ball as an end point. Keep pedaling those feet through when you play the ball. You will find that you get a lot more balls up and with more control. We have a tendencies to run almost to the ball and then reach. This slows your speed, makes your steps bigger and you lose a little control when you play the ball.

Keep moving because you can get to a ton of balls that look too far.

3. Transfer some foot speed drills you do indoors like and implement them in the sand. For example the karaoke. You will notice that you have to adapt and involve different muscles more heavily than on the hard court. Get a feel and rhythm for the drill and most likely you will be faster in the sand.”

April Ross, 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist, enters 2016 season as No. 3 ranked U.S. women’s team with Kerri Walsh Jennings
“Moving in sand is hard to replicate on any other surface, so I think being in the sand as much as possible is the fastest way to improve footwork and speed. Break down the movements you want to get better/faster at and do a bunch of reps of that movement in the sand without a ball. I like to add a weight vest when I do it so that when I take it off I feel even lighter and faster. You can also set up cones in the sand and do sprints with some sort of change of direction involved. Be creative and challenge yourself!”

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OC born and raised. Living in Napa Valley. Major sports guy, father of two, youth sports coach.

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