By Jeanette Simenson, Former AVP Pro and Beach Club Coach
Starting a beach club seemed like an easy idea after playing on the AVP tour, living in Southern California for many years, and being coached by some of the best coaches. I wanted to share my love of the beach game after my own transition from indoor at the University ofWisconsin-Madison. I did not grow up playing beach volleyball in Chicago so my experience as a junior beach volleyball player is non-existent. None the less, I was determined to show juniors how the beach game can significantly help their indoor game, give them a much needed break from a gym, and allow them to get many more different touches on the ball (especially middle hitters such as myself). Now that there is a huge move toward the beach game for juniors the need for consistency within our coaching staff is more important than ever before.
Teaching beach volleyball started slowly here in Chicago 8 years ago, we had few indoor athletes that took to the game. A few of the biggest transition points that I would teach them was how to hold the ball longer while using the wind to guide the direction of the pass, set, or hit. Footwork and movement in the sand was the other big difference. Using key terms like “gripping the sand with your toes” and “using three steps to get to any ball” courtesy of Dane Selznick; former coach to the USA Beach volleyball team. He taught me that footwork was the key to success in this sport. With that, I use tennis balls to help take the focus off the ball and help athletes focus on their feet and how they move in the sand. Any drill can be done with tennis balls first and then when you see the footwork needed you add the beach volleyball.
The fundamentals are what have to be there before you move into any kind of offensive or defensive strategies. This is a great place to start with any age group that is new to the sand. From that point, you can go in many directions, ball control and execution drills, serving in the elements, offensive strategies based on the wind and your opponent, and defensive strategies and transition points. All of these are best taught by people who have played the game so they can share the experiences but as a club we don’t always have that luxury. We must help our indoor coaches understand the game as well and help them grow as coaches.
At Chicago Elite VBC,formerly Powerhouse Volleyball Club, we have used common practice plans for all of our locations and coaches. We also video our drills so that coaches can see the drill being done before they have to teach it.
I make sure to put the key points highlighted for the drill so the coaches can stop athletes and make appropriate corrections. I also try to draw diagrams so the coaches can see how the drill should be laid out. Having a common language and consistent drills help the athletes to find success as well and begin to coach each other, as they need to be doing during matches.
I believe that as this sport continues to grow for juniors we need to all share our ideas, successes, and challenges to make sure to bring the fullest experience to our future beach athletes. If you have additional questions on Chicago Elite VBC’s beach program email Jeanette at email@example.com
For more junior beach volleyball education click here.