Whether someone is just learning how to play volleyball or has been playing for years, the most common question we get is "How high should I pass?' In the sand volleyball world, this question can be answered many different ways, but the information below should give you all the answers you're looking for!
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At every level in beach volleyball -- from BB to co-ed to the ball at your local bar to the finals of the AVP Manhattan Beach Open -- there is a common denominator among the winning teams: The team that passes better is most likely to win. You can hunt down every YouTube video you'd like, and you'll find the same result. The team that wins the passing battle wins the match.
Today we're going to talk about height of the pass, and the importance of passing the ball higher, making sure that you're lifting the ball enough and getting your setter the time they need to give you the perfect set so that you can side out. The better passer you become, the further in your tournament you can go, ideally all the way to the finals.
The word that I say most when people are inquiring about passing is "lift." I am trying to encourage my passers to pass higher. A lot of people think that high is going to mean a sky ball -- something that gets out of control. That is not what I mean.
When we're talking about lifting, we're talking about giving your setter the ability to walk or move comfortably underneath the set and be able to deliver a comfortable hand or bump set. For the video example, I'm going to pass it at a height that we'd like to play at. Justin's going to act as a normal setter and he’s going to set up and down.
Notice that the volleyball is going about maybe three or four balls above the antenna. I can pass this middle and Justin is able to get there with good, solid footwork. But if I start passing the ball low to the same location, you'll see that he's going to have to rush a little bit more, so I'll keep it under the antenna and pass to the same location.
Now: That's the same path, same location, and I got that ball about one ball above the antenna. But what if I passed at that height and I'm not automatic, because there's a tough server on the other side. He's putting a lot of pressure on me, so maybe I make a mistake. Now Justin is running, sprinting through a back set. If I make a mistake but I'm passing at a good game height, he still has time to get his feet there and set it.
We get a lot of arguments that come from the wind side of the game. You are correct in saying that beach volleyball players are going to have to pass a little bit lower in the wind. We're going to have to set a little bit lower in the wind so that we can develop more control, because once the wind takes control of a non-spinning ball, it’s going to move back and forth. It's going to wiggle. However, you don't want to learn to play like this all the time because when we're in wind, we're not comfortable. There's something else acting on us that we need to fight against. We need to have a good base system that we're going to play with a little bit more every day, and when the wind comes, we need to learn how to play wind ball. But when we're in everyday ball, we’d want to have nice comfortable passing rhythm.
Passing about four balls above the antenna is not a sky ball. It simply gives your setter plenty of time to walk under it and handset or hit on two over the net.
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Included are diagrams and written explanations of the most important exercises that EVERY pro player does or has done at one point or another.
The five skill sections covered are:
Serve Receive & Passing
Ball Control And Emergency Technique