The Joust, where an attacker and blocker contact the ball at the same time above the top of the net, can be the catalyst for a huge change in momentum for either team. It is one of a handful of plays in beach volleyball that I call “momentum changers”. Winning the joust is usually considered to be the best outcome but I am here to tell you that losing the joust can be just as, if not more, effective than winning the joust.

Here are some keys to lose the joust and put yourself in a position to win the point:

1. Recognize that the set is going to be too tight to swing or get the ball past the block.

2. Get your feet to the ball and do your best to jump straight up and down even if this means your footwork on your approach is not perfect.

  • Do not broad jump to the ball.

3. Hand placement on the ball should have your palm slightly under the ball and your fingers pushing against the ball and the blocker’s hands in a forward AND slightly upward direction.

  • Keep a steady pressure on the ball AND leave your hand on the ball as long as you can while jousting. By leaving your hand on the ball and pushing against the blocker you are making sure the blocker can’t just stuff you and you are allowing your body to land while the ball is still above you.
  • Don’t push hard and take your hand away as this will allow the blocker to throw the ball down with force.

4. When you land on the sand make sure you land IN A LOW SQUAT POSITION.

  • DO NOT land high with only slightly bent legs or even worse straight legs.
  • The idea here is to land in a low position to give yourself more time to play the joust that you purposefully lost in order to stay in control of the ball.
  • Ideally you learn to control your body in such a way that you create space away from the ball in order to be able to get your arms out in front of you.

5. Play the ball low lifting the ball with your legs with your platform extended out to 90 degrees away from your body. This allows the ball to go up and down rather than in to the net.

6. After playing the ball, back off the net as fast as you can and get ready to take another approach at the ball.

BONUS: If you have the control to do so this is a great time to set your partner on two. The blocker is right in front of you and your partner, if they are 5-10 feet away will have no blocker in front of them and have an open net to hit at.

The momentum is won when you control the ball after the joust and then are able to put the ball away. It is incredibly frustrating for the other team and particularly the blocker when they won the joust and THOUGHT they had the point won only to see you cover yourself on the block and set your partner on 2 for an open net hammer straight down. By losing the joust you won the point and garnered the momentum to your side of the net.

Beach education and drills

About the Author

This article was written by 2008 Gold Medalist and Beach Nation founding coach Todd Rogers. Beach Nation, the Beach Education partner of the JVA, Starlings USA, the AVCA and the AVP, strives to teach the most successful techniques first and allow players to grow their style from that good foundation.  Beach Nation coaches include USA Olympic Team Coaches, Division 1 Woman’s Beach coaches, USA National Team coaches and National Team Development Scouts and coaches. Beach Nation promotes coaching players and coaches through hands on camps and clinics and teaching the game while challenging convention. The world class coaching staff at Beach Nation has unparalleled experience ranging from teaching the youngest athletes in club volleyball to winning the FIVB World Championships, winning an Olympic Gold Medal, and every level in between. Visit BeachNation.Net to learn more about beach volleyball and our planned events and coaches.