Morgan Martin’s Sandy Guide to Beach Volleyball

Southern California is beach volleyball Mecca. Whether you prefer the deep sand of the South Bay, the neighborhood feel of Newport, or the classic Huntington Beach Pier – living in Orange or LA County is largely considered crucial to success. Unless you’re Phil and Nick, Taryn and Kristen, or a handful of other Floridians and Texans that balk at the California notion. 

For the rest of us, once we decide to give the AVP a go, we move to California. There’s a new crop of hopefuls that migrate to Hermosa, Manhattan, Huntington every January, eager to find cheap rent and a promising partner. The move is overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. I relocated to Hermosa Beach from Indianapolis in January 2015. I knew one person. I barely knew the rules of beach volleyball. I’d never been in a formal practice let alone actual competition. I’m ashamed to admit I hardly knew the difference between the CBVA and the FIVB. I was as green as they come, and my story is hardly a rarity.

Sure – most AVP players grow up in SoCal. They know the rules of the game, and have grown up with some of the players now on Tour. They understand how to tie knots in the net, braid lines, and set up practices. 

But for those hailing from another state or another sport – we need some assistance. Enter Morgan Martin’s short and straightforward beach volleyball guide. Her paperback book – The Sandy Guide: Southern California for Volleyball People – brushes on a wide variety of topics and instances that may come up as one pursues a professional beach volleyball career. 

Morgan, a University of Hawaii alum and former AVP player, had the idea for the book during quarantine. “Iya Lindahl and I were trying to put up our own nets at the beginning of the pandemic when they were all down,” Morgan says. “I remember it quite well – we couldn’t tie a good knot to save our lives. We joked around about needing a pamphlet on tying knots because it actually felt absurd.” 

“I started thinking of all the things I could have told my friends and teammates who moved out to California, switched from indoor, or just started the sport to make their transition more welcoming and less stressful. And then it just snowballed.”

Snowballed indeed. Morgan wrote a 147-page book covering almost everything a neophyte volleyballer needs to know. From breaking down the different organizations to the “Stingray Shuffle,” Morgan gifts readers her extensive knowledge on the beach volleyball world. 

“I always knew I was so fortunate to live in California,” she says, “especially from the volleyball perspective. But it took a little bit for me to realize how much learning was baked into playing volleyball. Like how you should come to practice with a couple of volleyballs. Or essential rotator cuff exercises. Or how to braid lines. Or where to park to not get scammed. It all adds up to a better beach experience.

Her parking tips touch on my favorite section of the book – a lengthy breakdown of each beach from San Diego to Pismo. Morgan details meters vs. free parking, street sweeping (which happens once a week in Southern California and has cost all of us hundreds in ticket fees), wheelchair access, dog allowance, bathroom status, food availability, and overall vibe. Those segments on each beach would have been huge when I first moved here; wish I’d had something like this. 

Morgan also discusses knots, stretching, etiquette, and more. It’s a quick read with lots of info for anyone looking to make the move. And it was an impressive accomplishment for a former beach volleyballer. “It was a little pandemic gift to myself.”

If you or someone you know is interested in moving to SoCal to pursue this life, Morgan’s fun little guide could be a great holiday gift!