6 Beach Volleyball Serve Receive Drills to Pass Like A Pro

If you can’t pass the ball well, you rarely get to attack good sets and score easily. 

The following 6 beach volleyball practice drills are part of what we’ve been using at our Better at Beach classes and camps to help transform our players’ serve receive technique from the ground up.

Better at Beach Founder Mark Burik practicing his passing on the beach

Know that if you’re diligent about improving this fundamental part of your game, you’ll become a much more solid player. Once you’ve dialed in your technique, a lot more matches will be going your way. It’s simple side-out math!

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Let’s get into 6 possible additions to your next reception-focused practice session. ⬇️

6 Serve Receive Drills to Improve Beach Volleyball Passing

1. Continuous Passing

Beginner beach volleyball players can use this simple one to dial in their serve receive fundamentals. The focus is on keeping a nice platform with the arms straight.

Intermediate to advanced athletes may use it as well, as a warm-up.

It is done in pairs, where one person tosses the ball and the other passes it back.

How to perform:

  1. Start in a kneeling position, with the platform made out in front
  2. The other player is tossing the ball
  3. Pass it back with good form 10 times
  4. Repeat 10 times, this time in a normal serve receive stance


Coaching cues:

  • Keep your platform made with your arms straight
  • Add a shoulder shrug when playing the ball
  • Don’t arch your back, keep your abs tucked
  • Play the ball high enough that your partner could hand set it

2. The 6-Legged Monster

You can’t hammer enough on the basic shuffling footwork and angling of the platform for passing. The 6-Legged Monster is again done with just two players, one tossing the ball and one playing it.

It is also great for showing how some players might be weaker to one side — which you can then start working on more.

How to perform:

  1. One player is at the net, tossing the ball, one is standing inside the court, about 8 ft away
  2. The ball is tossed either left or right, at 3 different depths: In front, to the side, or behind the receiver—that is 6 positions in total 
  3. Repeat for 20-30 repetitions


Coaching cues:

  • Point your shoulders to the target
  • Create a good platform angle to deflect the ball to the target:
  • Lower your inside shoulder, raise your outside shoulder when passing at your side (the higher the ball, the more so)
  • Lift the ball with a combination of shoulder shrug, legs, and slight arm swing
  • Keep abs/ribs tucked, don’t excessively arch your back

3. Passing Conditioning

You can do this one solo, and it will improve your conditioning along with your serve receive skills.

A combination of keeping the ball in the air using your platform and movement in between touches will do wonders to raise body temperature, or even develop better mobility and footwork

How to perform:

  1. Do the drill close to the sideline
  2. Pass the ball to yourself twice
  3. Now, quickly go down to touch your hand to the line
  4. Get back up and play the ball twice again
  5. Repeat for time (30 seconds, for example)


Coaching cues:

  • Keep a solid, straight platform
  • Keep your abs/ribs tucked and don’t over-arch your back

Become a better passer, faster

If you feel like you're shanking too many passes, and/or you'd like to really dial in your form, this course is for you.

Better at Beach's Serve Receive Masterclass has helped hundreds of players become excellent passers — make sure to check it out!  →

4. Towel Drill

A key aspect of proper beach volleyball serve receive technique is keeping your shoulders rounded the whole time, instead of straightening your upper back too much.

The Towel Drill can be done with one person working and another tossing the ball. It will force you to keep that ideal passing posture—if you don’t, the towel will fall off.

How is that for direct feedback?

How to perform:

  1. Lay a towel across your neck
  2. Have a player or coach toss a ball to either side of you
  3. Pass the ball while keeping perfect serve receive posture


Coaching cues:

  • Watch your platform angle
  • Get your feet and body behind and under the ball
  • Keep passing-specific upper back posture

5. One-Arm Passing

When passing balls on the outside of our body, we need to drop our inside shoulder while still facing our shoulders to the target.

A helpful exercise for patterning this is to only pass the ball with the inside arm:

  • If we don’t have the correct footwork, we won’t be able to do it. 
  • If we don’t face our target, we won’t be precise. 
  • And most importantly, if we don’t drop our inside shoulder to create the right angle, our one-arm pass will turn out very poorly.

How to perform:

  1. Start in a receiving position
  2. Have a coach or player toss balls towards the sideline
  3. Use only the inside arm to pass the ball back


Coaching cues:

  • Keep your ribs tucked
  • Lower the inside shoulder, creating the correct angle
  • Good, side-shuffling footwork to get to the ball

6. Passing Triangle

This one has a coach or player toss the ball over the net, and a setter at the net to catch the ball (or get some extra setting reps, if desired).

The receiver can practice his movement, posture, and platform angle on a ball that’s coming over the net.

How to perform:

  1. Have a coach or player toss the ball over the net for the passer to receive
  2. Setter catches the ball and feeds it back to the tosser
  3. Repeat 10 or 20 times and switch


Coaching cues:

  • Be mindful of good footwork, platform, and posture throughout
  • Keep the ball high and off the net enough so that the setter would be able to hand set it comfortably

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