John Mayer and Billy Allen are two of the most brilliant minds in beach volleyball. Fortunately for the beach volleyball community, the two host a beach volleyball podcast, Coach Your Brains Out, breaking down, essentially, how to improve in the most efficient ways possible. Frequently they’ll open up the podcast to questions from fans, one of which was: What is the most underrated skill in beach volleyball?
Mayer’s answer: The short serve.
The short serve is one of the most deadly – and risk-free – skills in beach volleyball. There is little that is sexy about the short serve: It doesn’t come with pace; the point is actually that it doesn’t come with pace. It doesn’t blow anyone up. It isn’t flashy.
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But it is one of the easiest ways to throw a team off its offensive rhythm. When you serve a...
With a sweep of gold medals in the Netherlands on Sunday afternoon – Troy Field and Miles Evans, and Delaney Mewhirter and Terese Cannon – off-season is, alas, upon the professional beach volleyball world.
But off-season also means something else: It’s camp season.
In less than two months, Better at Beach is returning to host its popular week-long camps, featuring a full team of professional coaches to help players of all levels, from beginner to open, have an unforgettable beach volleyball experience.
“Our camps are all about getting better and improving so we dedicate ourselves to coaching a lot,” AVP professional beach volleyball player Mark Burik said. “You get a lot of reps and a lot of touches. You can come to our beach volleyball camps wherever you are. If you’re a beginner, we’re going to put you on the beginner court. If you’re a B player, you’re going to be surrounded by B opponents. If you’re an open...
We're different. We're the weirdos, the unconventional ones. We give blockers nightmares and, for whatever reason, are almost always the wristiest ones on the beach. You think you have a read on us, but you don't, because that angle we were showing just became a line chisel. We're in short supply but in high demand.
We're the lefties.
Being left-handed on the beach is, in my opinion, a tremendous advantage. First and foremost, we're on the right side of the rule of supply and demand: There are so few of us, yet we always present an additional threat. Being left-handed gives you a built-in edge, the threat of not one option, but two. It gives defenses a different look and a completely new arsenal of threats on offense.
But to unlock all of the tools and advantages of being left-handed, you first must understand how to properly make use of everything before you.
Currently, I'm in Sofia,...
HERMOSA BEACH, California – To watch Trevor Crabb play beach volleyball from 2013-2017 was to witness a master class in the art of hitting the high line shot. Not just the high line, actually: Crabb, a right-handed left-side player, would hit every variation of a line shot you could imagine. He’d hit high lines. He’d chisel low lines. He’d hit short lines and fast lines and he’d occasionally even bounce line.
“50 shades of line,” Casey Patterson once quipped on a livestream when Crabb was competing in a country quota in The Netherlands.
It’s a devastating shot, the line. Even when everyone knew Crabb was going to be hitting some variation of a line shot, few could stop it consistently enough to beat him. When we master the high line shot, it opens up a wealth of other offensive opportunities. If the defender is now shading towards the line, we have an open cut or high angle; if the defender shifts back, our line opens up once more.
The best defense in beach volleyball, according to Reid Priddy, a man who knows an awful lot about defense in beach volleyball, is not actual defense. It has nothing to do with running down line shots or how to properly dig a hard driven. It isn’t about positioning or footwork. It isn’t about blocking, where to put your hands and how to time it.
The best defense in beach volleyball is the jump serve.
At any level of the game, if the opposing team is in system -- in system meaning: They’ve made a pass to where they want, and can run the set they want -- they have a significantly higher side out percentage than if they are not. But if they’re out of system? If the serve has forced them to pass behind them or to the left or right?
Now we’re talking.
A good float serve can do the trick, yes. But if any of you were watching the most recent Manhattan Beach Open, won by Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb -- and previously won by Reid Priddy and Trevor Crabb --...
To watch Evandro Goncalves serve is to witness the obvious power of a jump serve. The Brazilian has been named the best server in the world for five straight years for a reason: He simply overpowers opponents with a massive grenade launcher of a jump serve.
Yet most of us are not Evandro Goncalves. Most of us are human, carrying standard human shoulders that are not weapons of war. Most of us have to resort to more subtle serves – yet if we do them right, they’re just as dangerous.
John Mayer, currently the head beach volleyball coach at Loyola Marymount, has called the short serve the most under-used skill in beach volleyball. Why? It’s a low risk, high reward serve that can produce points in abundance while also tiring your opponents out, forcing them to sprint to the net, pass, retreat to their point of hesitation, then attack. Do this throughout an entire match, and what you’ll get is an exhausted opponent whose offensive rhythm has been thoroughly thrown...
There are a lot of great volleyball coaches out there. Think Stein Metzger, Dain Blanton, Jenny Johnson Jordan, John Mayer, Betsi Flint, Mark Burik, Brooke Niles, Brandon Joyner -- the list could go on and on and on.
There are also a lot of not so great volleyball coaches out there, but we're not going to name names. We're just going to leave it at the fact that we're all human and, well, sometimes those human fallacies become very apparent when we're coaching. But if you'd like to join the first list, the one with some of the best coaches in the country currently, here are the seven deadly sins of volleyball coaches you'll want to avoid.
Have you ever watched your favorite football team -- say, the Baltimore Ravens -- and explode off your coach, screaming obscenities at Lamar Jackson for throwing an interception in the AFC Championship Game? (me neither...)
How could he not see the defensive back?
Didn't he see JK Dobbins wide open in the...
We're on the move in beach volleyball. A lot. And that's why we love it! There's only two players on the court, which leaves quite a bit of sand to cover. This is especially relevant for all of the beach volleyball defenders out there reading this, players who are constantly on the move but also constantly touching the ball.
It begs the question: How do we accurately make digs while on the move?
It's an excellent question. Many coaches will encourage you to be fully stopped, no matter what, whenever you're digging a volleyball. In a perfect world, this would be great. Alas, we do not live in a perfect world, and that idea is unrealistic at best, bad advice at worst. Because digging on the move isn't a bad thing. It's ok to be on the move.
Sometimes it's even recommended!
"You don’t have to get stopped," AVP professional beach volleyball player Mark Burik said. "It’s ok to be on the move and keep your momentum going to your point of hesitation. If you do...
This weekend, at just 25 and 24 years old, Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil will officially become the youngest team in USA Volleyball history to compete in an Olympic Games. They will do so after a miraculous come-from-behind run that saw them win two gold medals in the final two events of the Olympic qualification process. They will do so after passing the GOAT, Kerri Walsh Jennings.
And in doing so, they will become the faces young beach volleyball players look to as their newest role models, as Claes and Sponcil once did to Walsh Jennings and Misty May Treanor and April Ross, who is also competing in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
It begs the question: How did Claes and Sponcil become so good, so fast? How did they make the jump from college – Claes at USC, Sponcil at UCLA – to Olympians in a matter of, in Sponcil’s case, two years?
There is no simple answer, but Claes shed some light on her preparation process throughout the Olympic qualification period, and the...
There is one main skill in beach volleyball that is noticed before almost any other: The spike. There has not been a single player in the history of beach volleyball who has looked at the other side of the net in fear because someone on the other team bump set well. Nor has anyone, as far as I can tell, been trembling because of a crisp line shot.
We notice spikes. Whether we want to or not, whether we care to spike hard or not, we just notice them, no different than how we notice dunks before we would a mid-range jumper. They’re spectacular, and everyone wants to spike a volleyball harder because of this (and because it’s the most effective way to score).
However, we have some news for you: Before you can spike a volleyball, you must make your approach. Your approach is 99 percent of spiking anyway.
You may as well learn where to start.
There are many different schools of thought on where to begin your approach, and there is no particular school of thought that you...
Included are diagrams and written explanations of the 36 MOST IMPORTANT EXERCISES you NEED to win more matches!
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Serve & Serve Receive
Bump Setting & Hand Setting
Attacking, Spacing, Vision & Swing Mechanics
Defense + Blocking & Peeling
Ball Control & Emergency Technique
Game Situations & Competitive Drills