By Jeanette Simenson, Former AVP Pro and Beach Club Coach

Well it’s that time of year again, fall festivals, pumpkins, and the changing of the leaves. It’s a bittersweet time for beach volleyball coaches and players. We may still get a few days in the sand but we know it is coming to an end and soon the snow will cover the sand. Well not for you in the south and west, and yes we are jealous! This doesn’t mean we need to end the beach training, we just need to figure out a way to stay in beach shape through these winter months.

When I played on the AVP Tour and lived in Chicago, it was always a trick to stay in “California shape” as I geared up for the Ft. Lauderdale event at the beginning of April. I had only three days where I could get outside into the elements, and they were a challenge. Windy and 45 degrees was the warmest of the days I was able to train outside. So what else can you do to stay in beach shape?

  1. Besides the obvious, buy warm clothes so you can train on any day warmer than 35 degrees.
  2. You will need to continue to build beach drills into your indoor workouts
  3. Find an uneven surface to continue to do lateral movements and jump training
  4. And watch videos of yourself and of other athletes playing.

All of these in combination with your indoor season will continue to give you that added edge of cross training.

The beach drills you did during the summer are a nice change of pace to any indoor practice, kind of like how a two person pit drill or queen of the court can add competition, ball control, and agility to any workout. Make sure to give the athletes goals. For instance, a simple triangle drill where one athlete passes to the center, the other passes the ball to the pin, and the passer waits to approach and hits high line after a solid call from their partner. This works on accuracy of passing, an out of system set/pass to the pin, calling the shot for the hitter, and then execution of the hit to the open area. All skills that need to be foundational to a great club or college team.

Sand or uneven surface training can be easy. Just bundle up and do star drills and 3 step movement drills with or without a ball. On a nice sunny day you can get used to the sun and wind with just movement to the ball and either full execution or just catch and toss.

Serving, the most key essential to any sand game, is an easy thing to do on a day over 35 degrees and preferably some wind so they can work on using it to their benefit.

In our club, Chicago Elite VBC, we are using video training for the indoor practices and putting them on a YouTube link for all the athletes to watch. This is a great idea for sand as well. Have athletes upload games from the summer and share them with teammates. Have conversations online or in person about strategies and how to correct errors. As the coach, you can find great matches of the pros and share those with your sand athletes as well. Watching those videos and then practicing can make a strong mind-body connection for those visual learners we have.

Lastly, we all know that slump we have in the middle of a long club season. Switching it up, making it fun, and creating a different set of competitive drills can add energy and life to any team. Make a fun Saturday of it with team building and cohesive activities. We did this with my college team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Our coach, Steve Lowe, liked to take us to the lake on a warmer day during the spring and do some team bonding. I am convinced this is what helped our team win the first ever Big Ten Championship for the University. To this day we still relish those team days, 23 years later.

Jeanette Simenson-Gurolnick, former UW-Madison Middle Blocker (1988-1992), WPVA/AVP Beach Volleyball Player (1994-2007), Assistant Coach at University of Illinois-Chicago (2002-2004). Current JVA Midwest Representative, Recruiting Coordinator and Beach Club coach for Chicago Elite Volleyball Club (formerly Powerhouse VBC) in Chicago, IL. Where it gets bitter cold and windy!

If you have additional questions on Chicago Elite VBC’s beach program email Jeanette at

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