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Beach Program Basics and the First 8 Practices


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Indoor clubs are finding success growing participation and members from the grassroots level. However, beach clubs often have new players who have played years of indoor volleyball, but are new to the beach game. 692 Beach, a JVA member club in Dallas, and year-round beach club uses the first 8 practices of the season to break down each aspect of the game. This program has helped 692 ensure that each player develops the fundamental and philosophical training needed to excel in beach volleyball, and also learn 692's system.

692's program is for players 10U and up, and the main requirement is for a player to be able to overhand service over the net. Occasionally the club has made exceptions for nine-year-olds if they are strong enough. Currently there are 80 players enrolled in the spring season that lasts from February 12th-May 10th. This does not include the National Team, which consists of the top 24 players in the club.

With the club's consistent success and reputation as one of the top beach clubs in the country, most of our players come through referrals, or through email marketing.

Program Structure

Each season (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer) 692 will structure it's first eight practices to teach 692's offensive and defensive system. Each practice focuses on a different part of the game:

1 - Passing, Short Shots
2 - Setting, Deep Shots
3 - Attack Line, Defend Line (part of our system)
4 - Outside Passing, Setting out of the net (our system)
5 - Defense, Shifting (our system)
6 - Jumpserving, Hitting
7 - Wind, Strategy
8 - Blocking

When working on a skill, the focus is not so much on technique, but rather the concept of where to pass. During the setting practice, coaches do not focus as much on the individual skill of setting, as they do releasing, the point of hesitation, where to set the ball in certain situations, etc. There will be 8-12 players on a court with every court running the same drills, and players are divided by age and skill level. 

Practice Outline for Practice #1: Passing and Short Shots

Introduction
Introduce all the coaches. Split everyone by age group and have them meet each other. Have them form a circle and one at a time go around the circle, meet each girl and high five them.

Demonstrate and explain knuckling
Explain the technique for knuckling using these cues:

Keep your hand and wrist straight – Palm down – Reach high and push through the ball – Hold the extension

Drill 1 – Knuckling
Have the players pair up with a ball and get on either side of the net. They should toss a tight ball with two hands, then reach high and knuckle a ball over the net to their partners, holding the extension. They should try to keep the ball between their partner and the net. Have each player knuckle 10 balls over the net, then both players step to their left and knuckle 10 balls to the right, then each player takes two steps to the right and knuckles 10 balls to the left. More advanced players can toss, jump, and knuckle these shots.

Demonstrate and explain short shots
Explain the technique for short shots using these cues:

Reach high – Roll your hand over the top of the ball to create topspin

Drill 2 – Short shots
Have each player get a ball and practice hitting the ball straight up into the air while allowing their hand to roll over the top of the ball, creating topspin. Have each player hit 20 balls straight up, then pair up and get across the net. Have the players hit one ball straight up to themselves, then hit a short shot over the net to their partner. Each player hits 10 balls to themself and then over the net. Players should have the apex of the path of the ball on their side of the court, so that the ball crosses the net on the way down, landing within five feet of the net.

Each player has now hit 30 knuckles and 20 short shots. We call this warm up "hitting your shots" and we do it at the beginning of every practice. The players will pair up, knuckle 5 balls each straight ahead, then knuckle 5 balls to the right, then knuckle 5 balls to the left, then step back and hit 10 short shots.

Demonstrate and explain passing
Explain the technique using the following cues:

Get your feet to the ball – Pass low and forward

The basics of passing are the same in beach and indoor volleyball. Players should call the ball, get their feet to the ball, open up to the passer, and follow the ball to the line. We focus on the two main points above when we are teaching passing. The main thing is to focus on getting your feet moving and getting your feet to the ball, as opposed to leaning and reaching. The first thing a passer is going to do is move their feet, so passers should be prepared to move before the ball is served. Passers should work to get to where the ball is going to land and be in position to contact the ball below the waist. We teach "Low and Forward", but more specifically, a pass should be straight ahead from the inside foot and should land five feet off the net.

Drill 3 – Jump stops
One player in the middle of the court and the coach tossing from the other side, other players in a line off the court. The coach tosses a ball over the net, the player runs to the ball and gets both feet set, gets their hips down and catches the ball within a foot from the ground in front of them. The passer then quickly stands up, runs to the net and throws the ball back to the coach, then runs around the court to get back in line. This drill goes quickly and the next ball is tossed for the next player before the first ball is returned. The main purpose of this drill is to train the players to jump and get both feet set on a short ball, so that their forward momentum is stopped and they are in a position to pass and get off the net to take an approach.

Explain Rule #1 – No Overhead Serve Receive
There is never a time when it is appropriate to receive serve overhand. Players need to move their feet to get to the ball when receiving serve. Have the players repeat rule 1 out loud several times.

Drill 4 – Passing reps
Divide the girls onto courts and split each court in half. Each court will have a passer on the court, a target catching the ball, a few girls waiting behind the passer off of the court, and a few tossers on the other side of the net with balls. Players will pass, then become target, then go under the net and become a tosser. Run through as quickly as possible.

Short balls – Perform the same drill with a ball that is tossed short. Players should run up, jump stop their feet to the ball, get their hips low and pass the ball. Remember that a pass should be five feet from the net, so a ball five feet from the net will be passed straight up and a ball shorter than that will be passed backwards. It is important to emphasize "low and forward" so that players understand to pass to a position instead of passing to the setter. "Don't pass to the setter, bring the setter in front of you"

Deep balls – Perform the passing reps drill a third time with the passers starting mid court. Toss a deep ball over their shoulder and the passer should stay low, turn and run, and pass the ball to the net. We emphasize dropping your center of gravity after the pass so that you can change directions and get to the net quickly to start your approach.

Drill 5 – Vollis
Divide each court in half, half on each side. Each team has one player on the court at a time. Servers must serve underhand. Each ball must go over on the first contact. Players cannot play the overhead, they can only forearm pass the ball.

692 has found success transitioning new players into the club, and making sure every player has an understanding of the club's system for offense and defense. It creates a consistent culture, and makes it easier for players to partner up for tournaments. Other than the club's National team (it's top 24 players), the club's members are all doing the same drills and learning the same style of play at every practice.

For more beach education click here. For similar reading click here.

About the Author

Dr. Scott Stover is the National Director of 692, which he formed in 2005, and a JVA Club Director. Scott has coached for 26 years at every level from high school, to club, to division one college programs at SMU and TWU. He has been coaching beach volleyball for 11 years at 692, and was chosen to be one of three coaches to go to Russia in 2010 with the USA Beach program. He was selected to be a speaker for a JVA beach classroom session at the American Volleyball Coaches Association Convention in 2015. Scott has developed many of the top beach juniors players in the country over the last nine years. He has coached 9 teams to national championships on the USA Beach Tour and the BVCA and had dozens of players selected to train at the US Olympic Training Center each year.


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