Beach Volleyball Defender Tutorial: Digging the Line Shot


If you're interested in this blog on serving and how to play defense in beach volleyball, you may be interested in our serving course, which, of course, is the first line of defense in, ahem, defense. It'll will have you serving more accurately, with more power, in just a few weeks! We'd also 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!

The high line shot is the most common offensive shot in beach volleyball. It's the equivalent to a fast ball in baseball, or an elbow jumper in basketball: If you're going to play beach volleyball, you need to have a high line shot. 

Even Phil Dalhausser -- gigantic, physical, bouncing Phil Dalhausser -- hits high line shots. 

So guess what is also a critical skill in beach volleyball? Knowing how to dig the high line shot. It's imperative to chase down a few high lines every match. It throws off the offensive player on the other side: If the easiest shot to hit, the most consistent place to score, is no longer available, then what do I do now? 

When you show someone that you have the ability to dig their high line, you're taking away an option. As a defender, that's crucial. Now, you might only have to worry about a cut shot, high angle, and a swing -- something your blocker can hopefully take care of. 

Of course, digging the line shot can seem downright impossible at times. There's a reason people go to it so often: It's one of the easiest shots to hit, and one of the hardest to defend. Anybody who can do basic math and calculate percentages can determine why the high line is so popular in beach volleyball. 

Even the most tenacious defenders can look like a statue against great hitters. One of the most important things a beach volleyball defender can do is work on what we like to call chase mechanics. Chase mechanics are just what they sound like: The mechanics you're using while running down a shot. 

Don't think of this situation as a guess. Think of it as a race. "Can your best high line beat my balance and footwork?"

The first step to chasing down a ball isn't a step at all. It's being balanced. If you're off-balanced, leaning one way, then you're really only going to be able to dig one shot -- the one towards which you are leaning. If you're balanced, you can make a smooth move to dig the cut shot and the high line. 

If the shot is a high line, your first step should be a crossover step. Your inside foot will pivot in the sand while your outside will cross over. It should look like you're stealing a base in baseball. 

Then the race is on. 

Chase down that high line. 

Scoop and deliver in transition. 

Then go win your tournament.

And if you want your legs to be as powerful and fast as possible for chasing down those high lines, check out our 60-day strength and conditioning program, which will have you jumping higher, hitting harder -- and digging those high lines -- in no time. 


Transcript of the above beach volleyball tutorial

The next piece of footwork we need to go over is called our defensive chase footwork. And we're going to start from a base. Then I'm going to show you how it goes into a full play. What we need to remember is that we want to initiate with a terrific crossover step. That crossover step is really important to digging high lines in beach volleyball.

And you want to make sure that you're not lifting your lead foot because a lot of players, when they need to pursue a ball down the line, or maybe for a cut shot, they're going to lift this foot and then start running. You haven't gotten anywhere. You wasted time. Now you're behind in the race. Once you lift that front foot that has wasted the time or the opportunity you needed to get distance across the board. So we need to practice this crossover, chase footwork, and the chase will work with a crossover, should look like this.

I'm playing defense down the line. My feet are just outside of my shoulders. And when I see that high line, it's going to be crossover dive some of these balls. We're going to be able to get to just a crossover. It's going to be up past high line, but we can get there from my base defensive position without this foot, big crossover step.


And I've gotten to full extension so that this is powerful and I've got distance from here. If we only crossover here, we haven't gotten anywhere from our inside push. So practice being powerful from the first step. I've gotten longer than my legs because I've extended it here just outside my shoulders first step. Okay.

That should be the first step in your high line chase. Some of these we're going to dive right away. So it's going to be crossover dive. So again, if we're showing defensive chase footwork, you need a powerful first step. And that's a crossover step. My lead foot should not be. So from this position to do you not do this wasted time and the wasted space taking a step and you haven't done any of this, make sure that you use this leg to push off, cross over, and dive. 

And I've already gotten from a decent defensive position. One step at a time I've done all that, maybe 12 inches of the court. If somebody is going to beat me in the last 12 inches of a court all day, I'm going to give them a round of applause. And accept the lower paycheck.

Some players with smaller legs, or maybe you're not powerful enough, or maybe you just didn't get a strong push. You can take two steps and a dive. So it's going to be crossover drive step and dive from that defensive position. Again, I'm here. I see the high line crossover push second step. And then I dive.

If you use these two steps, you should, if you get full power and full extension out of both of them, you should be further than the entire court from a base defensive position, about three quarters of the way into the court, taking two steps in a dive and should get you past the sideline. So I'm going to show it the reverse way I'm here playing defense, right? I'm in my natural crossover diving off of the second step. And I think more than the whole court, just the two steps and one dive. So practice that religiously, make sure that that's dialed in. And that's the only way that you know how to initiate your movement when you're chasing.


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