AVP Pro, Ryan Doherty | June 28, 2017
By: AVP Pro, Ryan Doherty
To play in the Main Draw of the AVP Tour means you are one of the top beach volleyball players in the country. Reaching that level carries with it a certain expectation of mastery; the idea that you are now considered an expert at what you do. But there is a down side to getting that good at beach volleyball…it is very difficult to continue getting better. That is where coaching comes in.
Professional beach volleyball tends to be a little different from other sports in most regards, and coaching is no exception. For starters, it is difficult at the moment to make a living as a professional beach volleyball player. While Major League Baseball or NBA teams have a full coaching staff, professional beach volleyball players may not be able to afford to hire a full-time coach. Heck, some players even put their knowledge to use by being coaches themselves. This leads to an interesting world where some players coach other players, some coaches make their living outside of the sport, and everyone seems to be trying to find a way to make it work in order to help the game we love so much.
Take, for example, Betsi Flint. Betsi was AVP’s Newcomer of the Year in 2015, winning her first AVP title in Ohio that year, and is also currently the assistant coach of the Loyola Marymount beach volleyball team. Betsi returned to her alma mater to work under head coach…John Mayer. (Also an AVP star who has won four titles with three different partners, including yours truly). I sat down with Betsi and got her thoughts on being an athlete and a coach.
How do you adjust to your different roles as both a player and coach?
“Making changes and developing new habits are really challenging as a player, and playing allows me to have a relatable perspective as a coach and understand the difficulty (instead of expecting my athlete to create this change and make it repeatable overnight).”
Does coaching the women’s team at LMU help your game as a player?
“Teaching others undeniably helps my own game! The LMU (Loyola Marymount University) girls I coach are really inspiring to me as a player. They work so hard mentally and physically to learn and grow in each practice. When I’m challenged on making a change I can picture one of my athletes doing it correctly and it goes a long way. I love the transfer that coaching has on my own game.”
Ty Tramblie is another fan-favorite on the AVP Tour. His never-ending hustle and incredible defense have put him on dozens of highlight reels, as well as helping him win the AVP Chicago Open in 2015. Ty coaches the new team of Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat to start out the 2017 season, and they are off to an amazing start (with top-five finishes in their first three FIVB events together as a team). But Ty wasn’t always the one giving advice; he worked with his long-time coach Gary Schreiber for years. Gary played professional tennis in his youth and made his living running a successful law practice. He recently retired to Belize with the plans of opening a volleyball vacation/club on his island. Gary Schreiber gives us his unique perspective on coaching Ty.
You were a tennis player and lawyer before joining forces with Tramblie. What aspect of your previous successes do you try to bring to coaching?
“Organization, discipline and drive. Organize and discipline regarding practice – be on time, run mandatory basic skills every practice then work on improvement; ability to adapt to changes/strategy as well as create a plan and recognize when it is working and when it is not. Preparation, strategy and discipline can overcome talent in sports, same as it does in business.”
What are the differences in coaching players on the AVP Tour from coaching players at lower levels?
“One difference is the attitude toward learning/changing and taking advice. The kids are much more willing to take advice and try things they are uncomfortable with (naive or just no fear) while many pros and hopefuls are less willing to do either.”
Rich Lambourne is a 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist as the starting libero for the men’s indoor volleyball team. Upon retiring from competition, Rich has brought his insight and expertise to coaching the beach game. He currently coaches Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner, one of the most dynamic teams on the AVP Tour, and has worked with athletes like Billy Allen and Emily Day in the past.
What can you do to help your beach athletes that would be different from coaching an indoor team?
“I feel that many, if not, most of the ‘skills’ in both disciplines, beach and indoor, are the same. I try and focus on my teams being as technically proficient as possible as I feel the players themselves oftentimes have a better grasp as to how they like to approach teams tactically.”
“Another element of the indoor game I try to apply to the beach is game management. How do/can we control momentum? How do we apply maximum and consistent pressure to our opponents, while minimizing (to the extent that we can) pressure on ourselves? How cognizant am I capable of being about these potential momentum swings in real time.”
The best athletes in the game working with some of the best minds in the sport, striving and failing and improving together in an effort to reach their full potential. Coming soon to a beach near you.