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Agility is the ability to change body positions quickly and efficiently. In beach volleyball, specifically it requires a smooth integration of movements using a combination of balance, coordination, speed, power, reflexes, strength and endurance. Agility for beach volleyball (or sand volleyball) means changing directions of the body in an efficient and effective manner. On the sand, your balance and ability to change directions gets hindered in a lot of ways. The movement patterns are slightly different when compared to hardwood like in indoor volleyball or even grass volleyball
Decelerating or slowing down quickly requires less steps in the sand. From a full speed sprint, you can do one hockey stop, plow the sand, and start accelerating. If you tried a hockey stop on a hard surface, your ligaments and tendons would get rocked. This is one of the many reasons beach volleyball players have much longer careers than athletes in most other sports, including indoor volleyball. The sand is much friendlier on the joints than any hard surfaces.
Why is agility important in beach volleyball?
Beach volleyball is a game of constant starts and stops, which inherently requires a boat load of agility. Your body has to move smoothly with control and balance all while tracking a ball that spins, dances, floats and curves. Not only that but the best attackers in the world of volleyball can bring it at over 80mph or 128kph. Efficiency, balance and quickness are the name of the game when, passing, digging, preparing for and executing a spike. If your training doesn’t incorporate agility drills for volleyball, your body will never be prepared scenarios like moving to a ball in serve receive, tracking the float with perfect targeting, then moving to the best hitting position before starting a slow to fast approach. Even within the approach itself, you have to be able to accelerate or slow down, change directions and then transfer all of your horizontal energy into vertical energy for the actual jump and spike.
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Blockers and defenders alike have to be able to sprint in all directions from a stand still as well as the multitude of positions you’ll find yourself in during movement. Both positions have to be able to shuffle with speed and balance. If you’re a blocker, you will live and die by your quick, accurate shuffle steps and your ability to turn and react to or pursue your partner’s digs.
As a defender, if you don’t have quick shuffle steps or you don’t have the ability to go from zero to 100 in one step, you’ll never hit the upper ranks. After you shuffle into position, you have to use your agility to immediately sprint across the court, dive for a dig, then pop up, get to your point of hesitation and hopefully finish with a jump spike for a kill.
As someone who has coached thousands of hours and athletes, I’ve gotten one question a lot: “How do I get that ball?”
When I was younger I used to think there was a smart, complicated answer having to do with positioning and timing. With a little bit of age and wisdom, I’ve come to realize that the answer to a lot of pursuit questions on the volleyball court is pretty simple. You have to be quicker. You have to change directions faster. Your agility needs to hit a new level. I’ve seen athletes with more speed and strength crush athletes who had better skills simply because they were able to keep the ball off the sand longer.
Agility for beach volleyball must be trained. All other skills remaining equal, increased agility will win you more points. The next question we have to answer is how to maximize our agility training for beach volleyball. What types of agility workouts and exercises can you do on your own that will get you more points on the volleyball court?
Here are a few of our favorites. As much as possible, you should train on the surface you compete on. If you play indoor volleyball, you should do your agility workouts on the hardwood. If you’re using your agility exercises for beach volleyball, get on the sand as much as possible. One thing to consider, as athletes, our bodies and our joints specifically take a beating do to the impact on hard solid surfaces. If you feel like your ankles, knees, hips or back could use a break but you still want to get your agility training in, choose softer surfaces. Hardwood is softer than concrete. Grass is softer than hardwood. Sand is softer than grass. If you have some nagging pain or an injury and you play indoor volleyball, head to the beach and get on the sand to give your joints a break.
Without further ado, here are our 3 favorite agility exercises for beach volleyball players. All of these come from Jump Higher, Hit Harder, Move Faster - The 60 Day Strength & Conditioning Plan for Beach Volleyball.
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