In the spring, a volleyball player’s thoughts turn to thoughts of sand. Warm, sunny weather prevails across much of the country, and sand courts that have been forsaken all winter are getting new nets and pristine raked surfaces.
It’s time for sand volleyball, my friends, so here are some tips to get you started on this year’s sand season:
1. One word: sunglasses.
This is a key piece of outdoor volleyball equipment — don’t leave home without it! If you have prescription glasses, it can be hard to decide if you want to risk smashing or scratching them during a wicked dive, or if it’s worth it to sacrifice some finer points of your vision to wear more disposable shades.
Whatever you decide, you’ll need strong sunglasses that are reasonably large so they can cover your whole eye area. Bonus if they wrap tightly around your head to help keep flying sand away from your eyes.
2. Diving is now practically painless.
If you have any qualms above flinging yourself at the ground during indoor games, now is a perfect time to overcome that fear. Unless you’re playing on a poorly maintained court that’s full of rocks, you needn’t fear the dive. Take this golden opportunity to get comfortable with falling, diving and springing back up.
Just remember that the gym floor isn’t quite as soft and you’ll need to make adjustments when it comes time to go back indoors.
3. For the love of all that is good in the world, wear sunscreen.
Anybody seen Karch Kiraly up close lately? He’s a legend, but his skin shows every minute that he’s spent outside training for and playing beach volleyball. Even if your regimen doesn’t include dozens of hours practicing in the California sun every week, your skin still needs protection.
Besides, skin cancer really cuts into volleyball playing time.
4. Be aware of the elements.
When playing indoors the most you’ve got to worry about is an overactive air conditioner, but in sand volleyball it’s you versus the sun, wind, rain, clouds and even more wind. It’s not by accident that professional beach players switch sides of the court every five points; in beach volleyball the weather can significantly impact the game.
Train yourself to serve in any kind of wind, and pay particular attention to the direction of the breeze when passing and setting. The high, hanging passes and sets that worked fine during your indoor volleyball season can get you in trouble really fast in sand volleyball.
5. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
This goes especially for those of you playing doubles. Most recreational players don’t have the luxury of living in California or Florida and being able to train with our doubles partners practically all year. Instead we have to make the painful transition every single summer.
Make your life (and your partner’s) easier by talking about everything that’s happening on the court. Call the ball, tell them what part of the court is open when they’re hitting, let them know if they’re approaching a barrier or obstacle when they’re chasing down a ball. Just talk.
Keep your eyes on Volleyball-life.com for more sand volleyball tips, as well as the indoor drills and advice that you’ve come to love.
Photo courtesy of: Flickr.