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Beach Volleyball Drill of the week: Master the art of hand-setting with night-night setting

The first skill I learned in beach volleyball was hand-setting.

To most, this seems to be a momentous accomplishment. Many find hand-setting to be the most difficult skill in the game, since it’s the only one where, should you do it incorrectly, the other team is awarded a point immediately. Karch Kiraly considered it a luxury. 

To me, it’s the skill that made the most sense to learn first.

When I moved to Florida, in April of 2014, I knew only one person, my childhood friend, Mark Lammey. When he found out I was moving to Florida, he was so excited for me that he asked if he could come, too.

Absofreakinglutely!

We found an apartment, signed the lease, sight unseen, and began our Florida adventure with an 18-hour road trip from Baltimore to Navarre.

Neither of us had ever played beach volleyball before, outside of the jungle ball stuff that is as much beach volleyball as putt-putt is to golf. I wouldn’t begin playing for another few months, when I made a few...

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Beach Volleyball drill of the week: Perfect your shots with the simple trashcan drill

I was no different than anybody else when I began playing beach volleyball: I was bad enough to the point that only a handful of sane people volunteered to play with me. I couldn’t blame them, of course. I was genuinely terrible. If you wanted a good cardio workout, you could volunteer to chase down my passes. Other than that, I was of little use on the volleyball court.

With a limited pool of people to play with, I opted to simply practice as much as I could by myself. Most in the beach community are under the impression that you need multiple people to practice and train in order to get better.

I think this is a poor excuse. I grew up shooting hoops in my driveway until my fingers were bleeding, pounding balls at the driving range, putting and putting and putting, swimming laps for hours, running sprints in my backyard. 

In every single sport, you can get better by yourself. In some cases, this is even preferable. 

For beach volleyball, you only need...

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Beach volleyball drill of the week: Serve tough and win -- even when you're not supposed to win

The first time I touched a beach volleyball was in June of 2014. It was a blind draw fours tournament at a little bar off the Gulf of Mexico named Lagerhead’s. I was, as you might be able to guess, quite awful.

Regardless, a month later, I signed up for my first open tournament with my buddy, Shaun Rannals.

Keep in mind, at the time, an open tournament in the southeast was the equivalent of a AA, at best, in California. There was one legitimately open level team, Matt Blanke and JM Plummer, who remain two of my closest buds to this day. There were some other decent players – a teenage Evan Cory, who is now an athletic freak; JD Hamilton, one of my best friends, who was good but still had a long way to go (he has come that long way and then some); Derek Zimmermann, a former AVP main draw level player; Joey Keener, a ball control wizard and the most charismatic man on the planet.

The point I’m making is that it wasn’t quite as egregious as it sounds, a total...

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Beach Volleyball Drill of the Week: Control your platform with the Brazilian Two-Touch

The p1440 Developmental Program, while short-lived, was also one of the most formative training periods of my beach volleyball career. It’s sort of what I’d imagine competing on a men’s college team would be like. The levels between the players were relatively close, most of us being the upper AVP qualifier or lower main draw types. We talked a lot of trash in that brotherly kind of way where you outwardly loathed it but also undeniably enjoyed it.  We competed. We were all poor but still found an inordinate amount of money to spend at Brother's Burritos. 

It was awesome.

At the helm of the Dev Program, as we called it, was Marcio Sicoli. His name might ring a bell for a few of you. He coached Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor to gold in London, then coached Walsh Jennings and April Ross to bronze in Rio. He served as Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb’s first coach. He’s been coaching Pepperdine, one of the most historically powerful NCAA...

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Beach Volleyball Drill of the Week: Achieve ball control wizardy with the Brazilian Tango

In Huntington Beach one morning a few years ago, Jose Loiola was conducting a few ball control drills for the two young women who were, at the time -- and still -- two of the biggest names in women's beach volleyball: Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes.

I can’t remember the year exactly, so forgive me for not being able to detail their lengthy list of accolades as it stood at the time, but whether it was their junior or senior year of college doesn’t really matter. What I know for sure was that they had won upwards of 100 matches in a row; they were, at least, back-to-back National Champions, on their way to a third; they were making AVP finals. They were the most dominant team not just in college beach volleyball, but in the entire NCAA, right up there with the UConn women’s basketball team.

New to beach volleyball at the time, I didn’t try to hide the fact that I had all but taken out a notebook, sat next to their court, and wrote down every drill...

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Beach Volleyball Drill of the Week: Master all touches in minutes with one-on-one

Most of my friends and beach volleyball partners are currently in Cancun, competing in an unprecedented back-to-back FIVB tournament series that will be critical in the race to the Tokyo Olympic Games. With all of them gone, it’s been tough to find full training groups. It would have been easy to take a few weeks off. Wait until things settle down.

Rest.

Rest is important, yes, but my international season begins again – it opened in Doha in February; Adam Roberts and I finished fifth – at the end of May, in Bulgaria. Now is not the time for rest. Now is the time for reps, reps, reps, getting better, improving. So I did not sit on my couch all week. Instead, I called Tim Brewster, one of my favorite training partners and a guy I took a fifth with in an FIVB in Tel Aviv, Israel, at the end of 2019.

For an hour, we went through some light reps, going over all the usual suspects: passing on both the right and the left, hitting line shots, hitting cut shots, swinging...

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Increase your vertical in beach volleyball to jump higher, hit harder, and win tournaments

If you’re reading this story, it’s more than likely you want to know how to increase your vertical jump for volleyball. It's a complicated question, with many different answers and steps. Worry not. We've got you covered. 

In this blog, we're going to go over:

- How many times a beach volleyball player jumps per match

- The sweet spot for sets and reps to improve your vertical

- The two metrics you must improve to increase your vertical jump

- How long should you rest between sets for vertical jump training? (it's longer than you think)

- How many times should you jump for vertical jump training? 

- How many times a week should you train
 
- How much weight should I use? 
 
- The best workout program to increase your vertical jump

How often does a beach volleyball player jump per match? 

It’s highly likely that you want to increase your vertical because you play and watch this beautiful sport, and you...

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Become a better setter with these three volleyball setting drills

If you watch virtually any beach volleyball tournament, and you take note of the teams that are in the quarterfinals, the semifinals, the finals, the rounds you want to be in, you'll notice one major commonality shared by all of them: They set the ball well, almost every time. 

Now, of course, there are a number of variables determining or influencing what goes into a good set. The pass is the first touch, making it either exponentially easier or more difficult to set the ball to the intended target. Then there's wind and rain and all of the elements that make beach volleyball so dang fun. However, those elements -- the pass, the wind, the sun, the rain -- are all out of our control. What's in our control is what we do with the ball when it's in our hands. 

Our job as the setter is to better the ball, no matter where it is. Good pass? Let's make the set better. Bad pass? Let's give our partner some help and roll it up with some of that fine hand-set nectar honey-butter...

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Three of the BEST ways shorter players can score MORE points

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.

While on that topic, check out our full attacking course: Side out and win tournaments: The attacking master class

Siding out key No. 1: Vision

The first key to siding out is your ability to see the...

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What Separates a Good Volleyball Player from a GREAT Volleyball Player

Depending on your definition on what is and what is not a sport, there are two sports in the world in which there are two people on a team: doubles tennis, and beach volleyball. Now, to be clear, I am not taking a shot at the All-American Cornhole players, or the All-Star Darts team. If they’re sports to you, so be it, and in actuality, the point of this story remains the same: When playing a two-player sport such as beach volleyball or cornhole or tennis or darts, the answer to this question -- what separates a good volleyball player from a great volleyball player? -- is the same across all two-person sports. 

It’s a simple math equation, really: You are 50 percent of the team, your partner is 50 percent of the team. With that considered, it doesn’t much matter if you’re playing up to 100 percent of your capability as a player. Even if you’re at your peak, the team is still only at 50 percent of its potential peak.

What separates a good...

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