So, you’re looking for some tips to give you an edge in beach volleyball? We don’t blame you. It’s a great sport. Whether you live near a beach or in the middle of the country, access to the sport is better than ever with lots of sand leagues and sand courts popping up throughout the country.
Another aspect that’s great about beach volleyball? The community that comes with it. We can’t speak for everyone, but the majority of the people within the beach volleyball community are welcoming, encouraging, and accepting—even if you’re a beginner looking to learn the game.
Before you introduce yourself to the local Saturday morning crew, let us set you up for success with these nine beach volleyball tips for beginners.
Be honest about your skill level
If you have never touched a volleyball, be honest about it. If you played in high school and have not played since, admit that. If you play every weekend, let your new friends know. The beach volleyball community is generally accepting but only if you’re honest. It’s important to understand where your skill level lands because that helps you find the right pick-up games and tournaments. There is nothing worse than the guy who claims he played in college and qualified a few times for the MBO only to find out he can barely keep a pepper session going.
Get familiar with the beach
Most people have trouble walking in sand, so we can almost guarantee running and playing volleyball will be very difficult and awkward at first. That’s okay! Start to gain your sand legs by going on runs along the beach or in the sand. The more you train in the sand and become comfortable with the uneasy surface, the better off you will be.
Learning a high contact point in your arm swing
A crucial part of a successful arm swing (i.e.— how you will get all your kills) for any level, is a high contact point. When you are approaching the ball for a big jump and swing, if you physically contact the ball on its way down/at a low point, you will find yourself swinging into the net (which is not good) or swinging into a blocker’s hands (also not good). As a pro or as a beginner, a high arm swing and high point of contact is always important and always something to work on. As a beginner, to help get yourself familiar with the high contact point, start by using your dominant arm and throwing the ball against a wall. Make sure to release the ball when your arm is completely straight above your head with your wrist down, and try to leave your arm in place once the ball has left your hand.
Serving the volleyball— stay still
The game starts with a serve from the back line, so make sure you have this aspect of the game down. And when we say ‘down,’ we mean, ‘just be able to get it over the net consistently.’ Most beach volleyball beginners try serving by throwing the ball in the air and swinging at the ball with their other arm. Don’t make it harder on yourself by having two elements moving (the ball and your arm)! Start with an underhand serve with the ball resting on your less dominant hand and using your dominant arm to tee off on the ball, make contact with the ball on its bottom third.
For passing, always think ‘high, middle’
If you’re new to the beach volleyball game (especially if you’re transitioning from indoor volleyball), you need to constantly remind yourself ‘high, middle’ when it comes to passing. You do not want to aim close to the net, like you do in indoor volleyball. Plus, a high, middle pass gives your partner plenty of time to get their feet under the ball and gives you multiple options/areas for a big swing.
Don’t overcomplicate things when you’re setting
Yes, Riley McKibbin has BEAUTIFUL hands when it comes to setting the ball. Yes, Sara Hughes has been seen jump setting on the sand. You cannot do any of this yet, so don’t pretend you can. Do your partner a solid by sticking to the bump set (using your forearms), facing your shoulders and hips exactly where you want the set to go.
You are not Alix Klineman
When you are starting out in beach volleyball, we highly recommend not blocking. As a beginner, we are pretty sure it’s safe to say that your “block” will barely be your fingertips getting over the net. Even if you do have some height and can get your hands over the net, we still don’t recommend it. Trying to block in a friendly game amongst beginners will ultimately result in a lot of turning, looking for the ball, running, and chasing (and remember, you’re still getting your sand legs so you’re not jumping as high or moving as fast as you think you are). Believe us, beach volleyball is much more fun in the beginning if you aren’t blocking.
It’s OK to turn your back to the net
Whether you’re passing a serve, playing defense, or running down a deep ball, try to avoid backpedaling. Instead, simply turn and run to get those balls. This is much easier said than done, and we know that. There are two issues with backpedaling: 1) You are not as fast running backwards as you are running forwards, and 2) People new to beach volleyball look silly backpedaling and we’re trying to save you from looking ridiculous (and maybe even from tripping and falling).
Beach volleyball should always be fun!
The most important tip for beginners— have fun! Meet new people, get better at the sport, and enjoy the great game of beach volleyball.
And while you are learning the walk, you can also learn the talk with some volleyball lingo.
For a more technical approach to the many facets of the sport, visit this page.