Volleyball Serve Receive Series Chapter 4: Advanced Beach Volleyball Footwork

 If you're interested in this blog on beach volleyball serve receive and passing, you may want to take a look at our passing and serve receive course! And, now that the beaches are open again, we'd love to have you drop by one -- or more -- of our beach volleyball classes in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, or anywhere in the South Bay!

In Chapter Four of the Volleyball Serve Receive series, we're going to cover some advanced footwork and techniques you can use to level up your game and start winning some beach volleyball tournaments. This will be building on the foundation of the basic footwork we went over in the previous chapter. 

Let's get started. 

Here's what you'll learn in this chapter:

  1. Drop Step
  2. 1, 2, Kick to Kneel

DROP STEP FOR HIGH FAST BALLS

Sometimes, serves come at our chest, neck and heads -- quick!

There is no time to get behind the ball and rock forward. You are not allowed to use your fingers to set the first ball unless it's flawless (so don’t try it) and we’ve already said that tomahawks in serve receive are a big no-no, so what do we have left?

The drop-step is a crucial piece of footwork you have to learn if you want to start winning your indoor and beach volleyball tournaments.

Rather than getting handcuffed or taking a ball in the chest, our eyes have to quickly recognize where the ball is headed and, counter to popular belief, get our mid-line out of the way.

Dropping your foot back quickly and opening your hips to the side of the court provides you the space to use your platform again.

Your feet will be facing the side of the court but the face of your platform and the direction of the tops of your shoulders will be able to stay towards the net.

This is relatively easy to train.

Ask your partner to lightly toss balls in a straight line at your eyes. Practice getting your torso out of the way and facing sideways so that your platform has space to operate. Check out the volleyball passing drill video below where we use most of the footwork we talked about in the last chapter and all the moves we're teaching in this post. If you're just learning how to bump a volleyball or you're perfecting your serve receive for an upcoming CBVA or AVP America beach volleyball tournament, this video holds some great beach volleyball exercises that suit beginners and pros alike. 

Beach Volleyball: Full Practice Plan for Passing Footwork and Attack Accuracy

1, 2, KICK TO KNEEL FOR SHORT BALLS

Short serves can be a devastating weapon for any server. Most beach volleyball players don’t see all of the advantages it can bring because it usually breaks a person’s attack but not always their pass. Let me explain that in a bit more detail.

For the inexperienced player, this can be hard to pick up on. Many players can get to the short serve easy enough, but then they end up with half of an approach.

It doesn’t always feel like the serve is effective because it very rarely turns into an ace. However, if the short serve leads to a hitter who doesn’t have a full approach, it is a successful serve.

The most important concept to understand about receiving short serves is balance. We can get to a ball but if we end up contacting the ball in a reaching or bouncing action, we won’t have consistency.

If you can imagine putting one knee on the ground and picking a very heavy bench up off the ground, you are close to the visual we need to be able to pass the short ball.

If the short serve forces us to rush, we don’t want to get to the ball on two feet. This leads to a deep and unstable bouncing squat. Approach the ball low and slide one knee to the ground. You should be able to stay comfortable on your knee or stand as if you are holding a pizza box in front of you. We do not want to dive. We don’t want to jump into a squat and we don’t want to reach.

Get under the ball quickly with one knee up and one knee on the ground. The first step is paramount to receiving the short ball. The most efficient way to receive a short ball, which comes in handy when we are low on time, is the 1, 2, Kick to Kneel. 

Our first step should be powerful and in the direction of where you will receive the ball. Once again, eyework and trajectory detection play a massive role in the quality of our first touch.

The second step will be just as quick and powerful. To receive a short ball on our left side, we should take the left step first and then the right step.

With my players, I like to exaggerate the next move with a kick. Our left foot will then kick forward sharply before planting on the ground. This quick front kick shoots our hips forward and under the ball, leaving our left (front) foot planted and our right knee steady on the ground with our torso slightly forward or straight up but not reaching.

Again, imagine being able to lift something heavy from your passing position.

Once under the ball and in a steady balance position, we should be able to rise with the pass without moving our platform angle. The angle should be set and the legs can lift the ball in this situation.

Again, we want to encourage getting your platform out early and moving to the ball as if you were carrying a pizza or a tray of champagne glasses. Get your angle set as you are moving, get your hips under the ball and one knee in the sand.

These advanced footwork techniques will help you improve your game. But it doesn't stop there. We'll be going over a few special situations to help you think through the why behind the recommendations. That way, you get to develop how professional players think. Head on over to chapter 5 to learn more about these special situations

If you need help getting better at serve receive, enroll in our course which has 19 lessons with video demonstrations. We take you step by step through the ins and outs of how to pass in beach volleyball. You'll also get access to all of our serve receive and passing drills. Better yet, sign up for the Rising Star Membership or for elite players, the Main Draw Membership and get access to the other skills courses at a huge discount.

We also run classes, private lessons and training camps for adults and juniors at VolleyCamp Hermosa in Hermosa Beach, CA. We can even run a clinic for your group, club or team in your hometown! Send an email to [email protected]

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