Five solo beach volleyball drills you can do during quarantine

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This current epoch of quarantines and stay-at-home orders could be viewed in a number of ways for those in the beach volleyball community: Lonely. Solo. Boring. Idle. Partnerless. 

And yet, there is little need for those descriptors. Now, in fact, could be the optimal time to improve quicker on the beach, learning more about how to play beach volleyball, and to play it well, than you ever have. You don't need the sand -- in fact, as this video will show you, pavement will do just fine. While practicing with two people is nice, you don't really need a partner -- who needs a partner when you have a roof? Or the ground? Or your head and shoulder? 

What you do have is this: Your feet, your mind, a ball, and ample free time to come out of this quarantine as a vastly improved beach volleyball player.  

Below are six easy -- and fun! -- beach volleyball drills you can do at home to improve:

- How to become a better attacker, using vision

- How to have better ball control on the beach

- How to improve your setting 

- How to master the mysterious art of the pokie

- How to improve your arm swing

- How to spike a volleyball


Solo Beach Volleyball Drill No. 1: Vision – then fitness vision

We’ve been getting a lot of requests for lonely or solo volleyball drills so I’m going to show you a drill that I did – I didn’t even consider it a drill, it was more of an addiction. I used to do it at my summer house all the time: pass to myself, set to myself, hit the volleyball on the roof. But I’m going to include something that has vision work. If you want to learn how to spike a volleyball on the beach, this is crucial. After you pass to yourself and set to yourself, between your set and your hit, you have to look forward at the wall and then back to the ball and hit. I’ll make an exaggeration: Just watch my eyes, watch my head tilt, and you can get some vision work while you’re doing this.

If you’re trying to get a little fitness in, it would be a sweet idea if you can add a little burpee in between the roll, so if you’ve got an angled roof, give it a shot: burpee between every roll. A little pepper, a little vision work, and some burpees. I’m tired. Learning how to spike a volleyball with our beach volleyball drills at home can be tiring so there, we warned you.

Related: 16 ways to improve the effectiveness of your shots

Solo Beach Volleyball Drill No. 2: Setting

This is an easy setting drill that you can do that involves footwork. If you’re working on footwork and you’ve got a ball and a hard surface and no ceiling, this is the setting drill for you. We know that whatever side the net is on, that foot should be forward. So if the net is on my right, it should go: left, right, set. Or dip, dip, lift. If the net is on my left, I should go dip, dip, lift, but it would be right, left, set. Dip, dip, lift. Soft knees, and a foul shot release. Off foot, net foot, set – dip, dip, and lift. I’m going to do this with a ball and have one bounce between each contact.

That’s how we set. I want you to get 100 on each side today. You have nothing else to do. Go do it, get your hands right, get your footwork right, so when we get back to the beach, you’ll be ready to do it.

Related: Basic setting drill: Pass, set, and catch

Solo Beach Volleyball Drill No. 3: Ball control

Here’s another beach volleyball drill you guys can do at home. This one is for ball control. You’re going to pass to yourself, you’re going to set to yourself, then you can use a head or a shoulder, but after the head or shoulder touch, you have to use one hand. You can’t use your forearm, it has to be your hand in between, and then it resets. So: pass, set, head or shoulders, hand; pass, set, head or shoulders, hand. Give it a shot, see if you can get 10 in a row.

I got seven. See if you can get 10.

Related: Are you fed up with passing and serve receive woes?  

Solo Beach Volleyball Drill No. 4: Mastering the art of the pokie

I don’t know how you guys hold your pokie, but you guys are going to be inside for a while so might as well start learning it. It might be an ego trip but if you spend hours learning how to spike a volleyball, you might not need all that practice from our beach volleyball lessons. Sometimes, all you need is a little poke to get a kill.

A lot of people hold them differently but I like to wrap my thumb around the front, and what you want to focus on is hitting the second segment of your hand. If you can keep this straight line from your wrist to the second knuckle, that’s going to be where your pokie has its power. So if that strike point, that’s going to be a great pokie, because you have that power. If you try to bend it or shrink it at all, it looks like you’re stabbing the ball with a pen; you’re not going to have much control, so you want to spread the surface area and use almost the entire face of the second segment of your finger. From there, it’s just going to be a strong wrist. 

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You can start by going underhand, and you can also go overhead. You’re going to need all of them because sometimes the ball might be coming into the net if you’re a blocker, you land, the ball gets fired into the net, comes by you, you’re going to have to be able to react like that. Also, you’re going to need to be able to play defense or offense using a pokie.

I want to see if you guys can get to 10 in a row to start.

Related: Are you a victim of this passing mistake? 

Solo Beach Volleyball Drill No. 5: Arm swing

I want to help you fix your volleyball arm swing from home, and we’re going to do it using a tennis ball. This came from one of our most popular instagram videos on how to spike a volleyball. So if you watched my last post, you know that there’s two way to open yourself up to getting a bigger hitting window. One of them is by rotating through the torso, so if you can keep your hips forward, keep your feet facing the camera, and then keep your hips forward while rotating back. You can do that by taking your right hand, pushing from your back butt cheek from your right butt cheek and then opening your chest. That’s one way to open up using your thoracic and that’s really important because you’re going to stretch across this oblique and that’s going to help you generate torque and power. All of this will help you learn how to spike a volleyball harder.

The other way to open up that hitting window is by using your rhomboids. Torqvb, Isaac Newball, he’s a biomechanics genius, he really helped me with the mechanics of my arm swing in volleyball by getting me to open from here as well by activating my rhomboid muscle.

The first thing that we’re going to do when learning how to hit a volleyball is practice our load sequence. So if I’m going to throw towards my 12 o’clock, I’m going to turn my feet to about 10:30, so both me feet are facing towards 10:30. So I’m going to rotate my back first, then I’m going to open using my rhomboids, or I’m going to pinch my shoulder blades back so I get my arm range of motion. So, open thoracic, then I load my arm by squeezing my shoulder blades together a little bit.

Before we go onto throwing, we have to know there’s a sequence for the arm swing. If you don't learn to sequence properly, you'll never really learn how to hit a volleyball harder. Keep your hand high and away. From there, with this part of your elbow facing backwards, my next move is to bring my elbow up, so that this part of my elbow faces directly up so my hand is back. So that takes external rotation. So if you can get your elbow up, face a mirror and see if you can see your hand on both sides of your bicep. That takes external rotation. If you can’t get there, you need to do a little range of motion work. So once I’m back, and this part of my elbow points up, and my hand is back, that is when I can release to the wall. So you need a tennis ball and you need a wall, but there’s five stops here. 

I’m at 10:30, I’m opening my chest, my hips stay locked, my toes stay on the ground, and I open my torso. From there, I open my arm using my rhomboids, using my shoulder blade muscles. From there, now this part of my elbow is pointing back. I release from that high elbow point.

In the beginning, I want you to take 10 of them and hit every stop. 10:30, thoracic, shoulder blade, elbow high, then release.

Get that sequence down and let’s get 100 throws today with a tennis ball. If you want me to take a look at it, I want you to post it and I want you to tag me. Hopefully you can show it in slow motion, but tag me, send it in slow motion, use the sequence: torso, shoulder, elbow high, hand follow through.

Easy enough?

Good luck!

Related: Maximize space for your hitting arm!


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