Transitioning from high school to college is no easy feat. Competing in varsity collegiate beach volleyball is a goal that many junior beach athletes work towards. Junior beach coaches have a large impact on whether that goal is attained or not.
Here are 3 ways junior beach coaches can prepare their athletes for the transition to the collegiate level.
1. Train more than you play
One of the biggest challenges we’ve had in transitioning true beach junior players into the college experience is the incredibly different training schedule. Although many beach clubs are beginning to have consistent and solid technical training, traditionally juniors players compete far more than they train the technical aspects of the game. It’s not unlikely for a beach player to follow an indoor club training model where they have two practices per week, with a significant portion of that training based around a competitive two vs two arrangement. Typically they will compete in 3-4 tournaments per month and will play 7-8 competitions per tournament. The biggest portion of their experience revolves around actual competition.
In contrast, the college player will practice 5-6 times per week, with much of that training revolving around specific technical details to progress their individual skills. During the course of a school year they will get to play in 20-30 actual matches, very rarely playing more than 2 matches per day. Over the course of a season, they will spend much more time training than they do competing. This coupled with a more rigorous academic schedule can be challenging for the transition from high school and juniors ball to the college experience.
There are some clubs who have started modeling their training after the college schedule. Juniors who have the opportunity to have multiple weekly focused technical training will benefit from the strong mentality that it develops. It is really important to have the ability to be excellent in the daily training grind. “Gamers” or players who mainly excel in competition, but don’t have the ability to perform at a really high level during daily training, may limit their ability to be a valuable asset on a team that values daily improvement and attention to detail.
2. Incorporate strength and agility training into every practice
A dedicated junior player may add in a couple strength training sessions outside of beach practice. However, most beach clubs do not make strength and agility training a priority and part of their regular training schedule, so the athletes are responsible for fitting that in on their own time. The college player will have dedicated strength and conditioning training 3 or 4 times a week. It is critical to the athlete’s beach court performance and the improvements, even though they may be minor, are tracked, reviewed and noted. Junior beach programs can find programs online (JVA members education) or consult with a local strength and agility coach to come to practice or write up a designated program for the athletes to do in the first or last 30 minutes or each practice.
3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable
Juniors players need to look for ways to challenge themselves daily to be better. The more comfortable they are with that consistent effort in training, the more capable they will be transitioning to the college beach experience. Junior beach coaches need to do their part to continue challenging their athletes and finding ways to incorporate technical training, as well as strength and agility training into each practice.
About the Author
Russell Brock is in his second season as head coach of the LSU beach volleyball team after spending his first three seasons at LSU as associate head coach under Fran Flory. Brock has been an integral part in the establishment of the program since its inception in 2014. Over the past three seasons, the Lady Tigers have steadily continued to improved, including a program-best 20 wins in 2016 and in 2017 he led the Tigers to a 27-8 and their first appearance at the NCAA Championships. Brock was named Coach of the Year as VolleyballMag.com in his first season as head coach. Brock was a standout athlete at the University of Southern California, leading the program’s all-time record in digs tallying 956, a record he held for 10 years. He also set an NCAA record with 45 matches with 10-plus digs. Brock graduated from USC in 1996 with a B.S. in exercise science. He and his wife, Kristi, have two daughters, Brooklynn, Kaelynn, and one son, Kory