When Reid Priddy was first making his transition from indoor to the beach, he did so leaving no stone unturned. “Hacking the beach,” he called it, which is the shortform version of saying: Nearing 40 years old, he was going to find the most efficient and effective way to climb the ranks as fast as a human being possibly could.
He did just that, winning the Manhattan Beach Open in 2019.
If you were to watch his practices in those early days, they may have looked a bit unconventional to you. Many times, for an hour, he’d set up cones down the lines, creating alleys on the left and right side. And he’d serve and he’d serve and he’d serve.
“Serving,” he said at a practice one morning, “is our first and best line of defense.”
You can have the biggest blocker in the world, the fastest defender on the planet. But when a team is consistently in system, the offense just has too many weapons, too much of an advantage, for the defense to stop enough in order to win.
The serve changes everything.
And in order for us to change our serve, we must first change our mindset about the serve.
“Unfortunately, a lot of us, we just think of the serve as the way the point starts,” Better at Beach coach Brandon Joyner said. “We need to change our mindset and think of serving as a way to put other teams in trouble.”
Many of us, at all levels of the game, from B to AVP level, think little of our serves, if we think about it at all. Do something for me really quick. Take inventory of the serves you miss. What were you thinking about? Were you thinking about where you wanted to serve? Were you thinking about the position you wanted to put the opposing team in? Were you thinking about pace, trajectory?
Or were you not thinking at all?
Much of the time, we miss our serves, or serve so easily we may as well have missed, because our mind was wandering. We weren’t focused. We were thinking about the sun, the wind, the play we were about to make. We were thinking about Instagram, the cute girl or guy on the sidelines. We were thinking about the score, the bracket, shopping.
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Our mind was everywhere but the service line.
In order to make our overhand serve more powerful, then, we must begin with our mind. We must fully engage at the service line. We must first have an intent, a purpose, with our serve.
Then we can make our serve more powerful.
Then we can think about our hands, how we want big, strong, powerful hands – not cupped hands with loose fingers. We can think about driving the ball with our palms, not slapping it with a loose wrist. We can think about pegging sidelines, changing the depths of our serve. We can think about moving someone to their opposite hand, or short, or deep.
But it begins with the mind, and our approach to serving.
If we view our serves as a weapon, every bit as dangerous as a hard angle swing or a deadly line shot, we’ll inevitably dial in more. How often are you distracted when you’re going up for a swing?
So: Why are we so distracted from the service line?
Because we don’t view it as a weapon. We view it as a ritualistic beginning to the point. Nothing more.
So let’s change that mindset. Let’s go on the attack, beginning with the serve. Let’s engage our mind, so we can then engage our body.
Let’s look at our serve not just as our first and best line of defense.
Let’s look at it as another offensive weapon.
Serving is what AVP beach volleyball player John Mayer calls a “closed loop skill.” It’s the only skill in the game in which we control everything. We control our toss. We control where we’re serving. We control where we’re serving from. We do not need a set from a teammate, a pass from a teammate.
The serve begins, and ends, with you.
Look at that as a blessing: The one aspect of this beautiful game in which you control every single aspect, from start to finish.
Look at your serve as a weapon.
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If you want to get more power, more accuracy, more consistency and MORE ACES as well as the defensive mindset and strategies that win matches, you should sign up for our Beach Volleyball Mastery. We take you through the basic mechanics of serving and then work all the way up to advanced tactics and how to beat certain types of hitters and teams. Keep the other team on their heels and never give them a chance to get a comfortable attack
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