Phil Dalhausser and April Ross don’t need an introduction, but I’d be remiss not to summate at least the highlights of their careers. Between them, they’ve amassed four Olympic medals, two of them Gold, 102 AVP Titles, and 65 FIVB Titles in 37 seasons of professional beach volleyball.
April and Phil are considered by many to be two of the best people ever to play the sport, not just in this current age but since the sport’s impetus some 60 years ago. They’re beach volleyball royalty. As both enter the twilight of their careers (April is 40, Phil is 42), volleyball fans can get excited that we’ll get more of these two legends. Not in quite the same way as we’re used to them, but maybe even better.
Phil and April’s Beach Volleyball Camp offers top-tier coaching and unrivaled access to these two legends. Just a few hours on the beach will build skill and community. Whether players want to focus on individual skills or get a crash course in all things volley, Phil and April offer it.
“Our unique thing is having so many different sessions with different skills,” April says. “People can sign up a la carte for three, four, or one.”
They offer 3-hour sessions in:
- Gameplay Situations and Vision
They also have a four-day comprehensive training program that progresses through all the skills. Teens can get in on the action, too, with their 14-18 program. There truly is something for everyone at Phil and April’s Beach Volleyball Camp.
Phil and April are hosting their first camp from October 10-23 in Santa Monica, CA. As the mostly agreed-upon birthplace of beach volleyball, Santa Monica seemed the perfect place to congregate the weekend warriors of the SoCal shores.
Two weeks of camp days provide plenty of opportunity for everyone to get in on the action. Campers from all over the country are flying in, some for both weekends. That’s been one of Phil, April, and their business partner Tyler Varian’s favorite parts – the response of people from all over the country.
Tyler is a huge part of the logistics side, and he’s the one who brought this all to fruition. Earlier this year, Tyler first connected with Phil and later recruited April. “We wanted to bring their expertise and wonderful accolades to the mass public,” Tyler says, “to people of all ages from teens to adults who haven’t received formal instruction in the past but have an interest in the game.” Santa Monica will be their first foray into this new endeavor, but they’re looking at other places across the United States.
In chatting with the team, my biggest question was – what makes you different? There are hundreds of classes, clinics, and camps out there. Of course – Phil and April alone make their camp wholly unique, but what can participants bet on?
“We’re really proud to say we’ll have a 6-to-1 player-to-coach ratio,” Tyler says. “A lot of camps have 20 players to one coach, and it’s really hard to get personalized instruction.”
That 6-to-1 ratio is the lowest I have ever heard of. And it’s even more impressive when you consider the caliber of coaches! Phil and April honestly could have slapped their name on any old camp and made a boatload. They could have shown up for questions at the end or made others do the coaching while they smiled for pictures.
But that’s not their goal. At the end of the day, Phil and April love beach volleyball. They want it to grow; they both enjoy teaching people the game and seeing their instruction change people’s game.
“It’s really interesting to coach,” April says, “I have my way that works for me. But I’ve absorbed so much information over the years. I have to call on all the information I’ve learned throughout my entire career to try and help people figure out these things.
“I default to how I do it,” she continues, “but that doesn’t work for everyone. So I have to scroll through my Rolodex of information and coaches I’ve had to find something that helps this player figure out how to perform to the best of their ability. In beach, there’s no specific right way to do things. Everyone is different. That’s a challenge I enjoy. And it broadens my own game.
“But really,” April concludes, “it’s about the joy you see in people figuring out skills. I can relate, you know? When something clicks for me, it feels so good, and I go out there and perform better. So to provide that feeling for people is fulfilling.”
Phil agrees. “Everyone has their little quirks, and it becomes almost a puzzle to figure out what they’re doing wrong and how to teach them a better way to do it, a better technique. And then seeing that click, it’s very gratifying. I enjoy teaching people one or two tweaks here and there, and they’re already passing way better. That’s fun to watch.”
To maintain the 6-to-1 ratio, Phil and April will employ other AVP players and powerhouse coaches to help offer high-level coaching and attention. They’re keeping camp days to about 20 participants so that every athlete gets invaluable time with the Olympians. They’ll also vet and sort the incoming participants to keep player groups synergistic.
Phil and April’s Beach Volleyball Camp is accepting B-AAA players, people who have mastered the basics but desire honing. By sticking with adults who are familiar with the sport, the skill level remains high. There’s a place for neophytes to be introduced to the game. Phil and April’s Beach Volleyball Camp is not that place.
Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is: how much will I really get to see Phil and April? The answer is: a lot.
In my experience – beach volleyball athletes are the most accessible sports heroes in the world. They’re down-to-earth and humble, and these two care more about growing the game than protecting their celebrity.
Phil and April will craft the practice plan beforehand, run everyone through drills, offer valuable instruction, and answer questions. They’ve baked in time at the end for Q&A, pictures, and connection. “And who knows?” April says. “We might get in and play a little bit.”
Phil and April are also excited to coach adults 18+. Though they have a juniors session, their goal is to grow the adult community they love so much – the weekend warriors, people who’ve found beach late in life and absolutely adore it.
Phil has a successful juniors club in Orlando, but is ready for the change of pace. “A lot of kids are there because of their parents. Adults choose with their free time to go play volleyball. They love playing. And that’s the biggest difference.”
“The level that we’re coaching,” April adds, “and the fact they’re adults who want to get better that’s exciting. They have so much room to grow. You tweak a few things, and it improves their game so much. I find that the ultimate coaching win. As I get more into coaching, it fires me up to be able to affect people’s game in a big way.”
“This camp is also great,” April adds, “because being that it’s just adults, we’re bringing a sense of community to these people. Everyone is meeting different people in the volleyball community. It can be hard to get started; this expands everyone’s network. The culture around beach volleyball is so cool, so it’s a really fun thing to do for people.”
Coaching from the two best players in the world, an expanded beach volleyball network, and unrivaled exercise on the beaches of Santa Monica, all at $50 an hour? Sign me up.