Beach Volleyball Drill of the Week: Achieve ball control wizardy with the Brazilian Tango

In Huntington Beach one morning a few years ago, Jose Loiola was conducting a few ball control drills for the two young women who were, at the time -- and still -- two of the biggest names in women's beach volleyball: Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes.

I can’t remember the year exactly, so forgive me for not being able to detail their lengthy list of accolades as it stood at the time, but whether it was their junior or senior year of college doesn’t really matter. What I know for sure was that they had won upwards of 100 matches in a row; they were, at least, back-to-back National Champions, on their way to a third; they were making AVP finals. They were the most dominant team not just in college beach volleyball, but in the entire NCAA, right up there with the UConn women’s basketball team.

New to beach volleyball at the time, I didn’t try to hide the fact that I had all but taken out a notebook, sat next to their court, and wrote down every drill Loiola, a Brazilian beach volleyball legend, was running them through.

The one that stuck that day -- many were far too advanced for me at the time, and maybe still now -- was what I’m going to call the Brazilian Tango. It’s a phenomenal beach volleyball ball control drill that will improve all of your touches with your platform, forcing you to keep those forearms out and the touches small, small, and even smaller, all on the move.

 If you want complete control over your platform and all things passing, our serve receive master class is excellent, and comes highly recommended!

Loiola had Hughes and Claes face one another at the end line. They’d pass back and forth, shuffling towards the opposite end line, all the while keeping the ball below their hips. Everything was low, low, low, fast, fast, fast. As they shuffled, passing back and forth, it looked to me a bit like a beach volleyball line dance -- flowing, shuffling, all their movements perfectly coordinated in unison. The most amusing, and challenging, aspect, came when they had to cross under the net, keeping the ball moving back and forth as they did, going low, low, lower. 

If the ball ever dropped -- which was not often, but it did happen -- they’d have to restart. Then they shuffled back, doing the same drill. When they reached the end line, Loiola told them to do it again.

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One-handed!

Sure, that's cool and all, a fun party trick, but what's the point? Rare is the occasion that we're going to have to pass to our partner from four feet away, keeping our touches below our chest or waist. No coach would ever recommend you do that. Even rarer still is the occasion where we should pass one-handed. No coach would ever recommend you do that, either. 

Like many Brazilian drills -- take last week's Brazilian Two-Touch, for instance -- this isn't designed to simulate anything gamelike. It's to sharpen your control. It's to help you learn how to take energy out of the ball, directing it where you want it, how you want it, to keep your touches small and our ball control magnetic.

And, if nothing else, it's a fantastic warm up. You get a lot of platform touches while moving your feet. Your legs will get going, your platform will get going, and all of a sudden, those serves outside your body, the ones you have to shuffle to while still maintaining control of your platform? 

The Brazilian Tango comes in quite handy. 

Previous Beach Volleyball Drills of the Week

Serve tough and win

Perfect your shots with the trash can drill

Master the art of setting

Approach on time, every time

Pass better than you ever have in 10 minutes

Get to EVERYTHING -- even trickle serves!

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