As much as we would all love to be Phil Dalhausser, or Oleg Stoyanovskiy, or Anders Mol, or Konstantin Semenov, or any of the other dozens of giants populating the FIVB Tour, we can’t. It’s just that simple. We can teach you a lot of skills here at Better at Beach.
Height is not one of them.
However, what we can teach you is this: The best ways shorter beach volleyball players can score more points.
And you know what’s awesome? It isn’t all that hard. It’s just different.
No, your highlights are not going to look like Troy Field’s, with bounces on the six foot line. But with these three tactics to score more points as a shorter volleyball player, you’ll be able to do something far sexier than bounce a ball: You’ll win more matches.
The first key to siding out is your ability to see the court, better known in beach volleyball vernacular as “vision.” A critical element of vision is your pass; an errant pass isn’t going to allow you to see the court nearly as well, since you’ll be tracking the set, rather than tracking the defense.
So, after you nail a pass, you’ll begin shuffling towards your point of preparation, or point of hesitation, or batter’s box, or whatever else you’d like to call it. As you’re doing this, take a look at the defense: Where are they setting up? What’s the defender doing? What shots are they giving up? In this initial look, they can give away almost everything, and in fact, many defenders do.
“If you’re a shorter player, it’s extremely important for you to use your vision to figure out where the defense is on the other side because you’re not going to overpower somebody with a swing,” Better at Beach coach and professional beach volleyball player Brandon Joyner said. “You’re most likely going to have to be a little tricky and use shots.”
Now that we’re at our point of hesitation, and we’ve taken a look, we begin our approach, which leads us into key No. 2 for scoring more points as a shorter player.
We go over a lot of approach timing in our above video, the 7 Deadly Sins of Spiking a Volleyball. The crux of it is this: You want to stay behind the ball. If you’re able to keep the ball in front of you, it will free up your entire offense. You’ll be able to see the court. Your swings will be faster, sharper. Your shots will be flatter and more crisp.
In essence: Every single thing about your offense will improve so long as the ball is in front of you.
If you’re using a standard four-step approach (right, left, right-left) then the speed of your approach should begin with your slowest step, faster step, then fastest, most explosive steps at the end. This will keep the ball in front, and it will make your most explosive steps at the end, maximizing your vertical leap and range of offensive attacks.
At this point in our attack we have:
Now it’s time to put a ball away.
Imagine you’re playing AVP professional beach volleyball player Mark Burik, and you’ve noticed that Burik is only hitting deep shots: deep high lines, deep angles, deep middles. As a defender, what are you going to do?
You’ll stay deep!
On the AVP and FIVB Tour, Burik, at 6-foot-2, is, believe it or not, a shorter player. He cannot rely exclusively on deep shots to win medals. He’s going to have to vary the depth of his shots to keep the defense guessing as to where he’ll go next. If he begins with a short line over the block, then cuts the next shot into the short angle, then hits a poke short over the block, what would you do as the defender? You’d scoot in, playing for the short shot.
Now you’re in Burik’s world. Because he’s going to beat you with a deep line, a deep angle, a deep middle.
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Put yourself in the defense’s shoes again: You’ve now been beat with four short shots and three deep ones. What do you do now?
You serve the other guy.
It doesn’t matter if he is bigger. If you’ve unloaded an arsenal of six or seven different types of shots, at different depths on the court, the defense will have no answer for you. They’ll have better luck trying something new.
Watch Italy’s Adrian Carambula. He’s only 6 feet tall but he drives defenses positively batty with how much he moves his shots around. They have no answer for him, which is why he’s in line to qualify for his second straight Olympic Games, despite never – and we mean never – beating opponents with power.
Embrace your height. Use it to your advantage. Drive defenses nuts with vision, good approach timing, and changing your shots.
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