One of the best ways to win more beach volleyball games is to have a SOLID defense.
Have you been finding yourself just shy of digging those hard driven balls or cut shots to the corners? Maybe you are finding yourself stuck in the sand and not moving quickly enough? Or Are you not quite sure if you are in the right defensive position for volleyball?
Let us help you with the
Secrets to Getting More Digs with an UNSTOPPABLE DEFENSE in Volleyball.
CHASE FOOTWORK FOR DIGGING IN VOLLEYBALL
READING THE ATTACKER TO GET MORE DIGS IN VOLLEYBALL
DEFENSIVE POSITIONING IN VOLLEYBALL
In this video, one of our professional beach volleyball coaches, Logan Webber, walks you through these three topics and how to get moving on defense for digging more balls in 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 digging 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. A great explanation of defensive chase footwork and mechanics can be seen in this video where Mark takes you step by step to getting you more digs in beach volleyball.
“But coach, I was reading the play.”
“No. You were trying to read minds.”
Reading, for the best players in beach volleyball, is not guessing. It means taking a series of physical cues and getting into a position that lets you get to an array of the highest probable shots. If you can’t describe the situation and the cues, then you aren’t reading properly. When an attacker is forced to hit from outside their body, this is a cue.
If a right handed attacker is reaching right with a straight elbow, it’s going to be difficult for them to hit to their left side. If they are reaching right but still able to create a swing motion, it will be difficult for them not to bring it back to the left side. If they are reaching over their head to their left side, they have a high slow diggable high line available, or some cuts but nothing hard driven. The tendency is to hit back in the direction of their hitting arm side.
These cues give us the excuse we need to reposition ourselves as defenders. I want to emphasize the word ‘reposition’ because it doesn’t mean giving chase to a ball that hasn’t been hit yet. It means getting to a position so that you can easily dig the high probability shots but still have the balance and physical access to all areas of the court.
So, here's what we have to do in order to be successful.
If you play with a blocker, the defender should be shaded to the middle of the court until we know that there is no on-two threat. Great defenders never sleep on the one-two ball.
This shade should be one step closer to the middle than the defensive position you want to end up in. For example, the blocker is going to block line, so you will end up playing defense in the diagonal. Your start position should be about one step from middle in the diagonal court. Then, when the setter sets, you can release to your position. Many beach volleyball professionals take this one step further and slide into position just as the hitter jumps.
If you don’t play with a blocker (like most juniors) you should do this in a similar fashion because one person should be designated to protect the over set. That net protector or “rover” should follow the play the same way a blocker would but just be positioned 10 feet off the net.
Once you get into your defense position, focus only on PERFECT starts. Sprinters spend their entire careers training themselves to explode on the sound of that starting gun. Defenders should spend their careers training to react to the hit and having a perfect first step. You are going to be shocked at how many balls you dig once you discipline yourself to get your feet in the sand and have PERFECT first steps, even if they feel late. You will be getting more digs in volleyball in no time.
Here is a good rule of thumb:
Choose a base defense (hopefully based on what you know about the opponents but that's not always possible) and stick to it. Focusing only on balanced defensive positioning and great starts. Without guessing or false stepping once, force the other team to beat you cleanly three times before you change any tactics. If you or your partner shank a ball, that doesn’t count as a win for the other team. If you false step, that doesn’t count as a win. They have to prove that they can comfortably beat you there before you even think about making adjustments, but you should be self critical.
If they beat you because you didn’t stay on task, re-focus and stick to the game plan.
There are times for bait and switching. There are times for defensive juke moves. Just remember, these are TRICKS and while effective, if performed with extremely precise vision and timing, they won’t have an impact without a solid defensive foundation based on balance, patience and great correct first steps.
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Maybe you have been playing volleyball for years, but there is always something new to learn through consistent and steady practice. Unlike indoor volleyball, beach volleyball is essentially one-on-one. You have one blocker (or net protector) at the net and one defender like we discussed above. The odds as a defender are not particularly in your favor. Beach volleyball defense is very heavily reliant on reading the attacker, as well as trying to confuse your attacker’s vision on your defensive positioning as you level up your game.
Positioning and balance is everything in beach volleyball. It's the foundation of a rock solid game that will have you breaking through pool play, digging more shots, and moving up the ladder in those beach volleyball tournaments. As we discussed some of the positioning in the above section on Reading the Attacker in Volleyball, now it is time to watch a small video section as Mark discusses beach volleyball defense positioning with one of our players at Better at Beach.
Video yourself chasing some shots and watch your feet to see how many times out of 10 you take a first step in the direction of the shot. How many are you able to dig with ease? Want one of our coaches to give you some feedback on those videos? Our video analysis sessions are designed to have professional AVP athletes/coaches sit down with you and go through 45 minutes of tape review. Our coaches look at your game film, techniques and what decisions you make in a game. GET STARTED BY CLICKING HERE!
We love our camps and all the incredible knowledge that is taught to those that attend. The video lesson at the beginning of this blog with Logan Webber is just a small snippet of what it is like during one of the morning lessons at our beach volleyball camps.
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