The transition from indoor to beach volleyball is one that can be both exciting and challenging. Living in the Midwest offers its own set of hurdles as players do not have the same opportunities as those living on the coasts to get touches in the sand. There are 3 main focuses that help our players at Wisconsin Juniors Volleyball Club transition from playing indoor to playing beach volleyball: 1) Conditioning, 2) Accountability, and 3) Nutrition.
One of the main differences of indoor and sand is the speed needed to get around the court. Because of this, it is important for players to get into condition and work on quick reactions and ability to change directions with the least amount of movement. A great drill for this is the “star drill”, see an example below. This requires a player to stay low while moving in the sand and pivoting to change directions rather than running in a half circle. The more the players practice these movements the faster their game becomes.
In addition to conditioning, players have a much bigger role when playing 2’s in the sand. Understanding the release to the middle of the court vs to the indoor “setters zone” is a big adjustment and important to train. For players new to the sand game, drills that include serve receive with the opposite player releasing quickly to mid court is key. Our club uses “release” as the key word, and we put a hoola hoop down in the sand so the players understand where to release to and where the pass should be. The higher level players are taught to pass more in terms of the other teams defense, but for starters releasing to the middle is a good start. Another important factor is the player who received the ball coming to the setter versus calling for a set. This concept can take time when moving from the indoor game to sand. Getting a player to change that mindset requires a lot of practice and reinforcement.
Finally, players need to be much more conscious about nutrition when moving to sand. Water consumption is essential to a players performance and due to the calories expended, proper nutrition is vital. We take time in our program to teach players the impact of nutrition on their game and what to pack in their bag for a tournament. Here is a helpful nutrition plan for beach volleyball athletes that outlines fluid and food intake that will help athletes rebuild muscles and recover after workouts, practices and long days in the sun. Suggest your athletes to have granola bars, honey, powder pouches for electrolytes (lemonade or Gatorade), bananas and watermelon for potassium and hydration, and proteins like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat or lean turkey or chicken on Wheat.
In the long run, getting young players to play both indoor and beach volleyball proves beneficial in the physical and mental aspects of their game. A player will develop faster reactions, mental toughness, and increase their awareness of the impact of nutrition on their game.