Lessons from LA

Hey team. As some of you may know, Flick and I are out in LA at the moment, taking in some winter sunshine and experiencing the volleyball lifestyle out here. It’s made me stop and think a little about the volleyball community as a whole and compare what we do in the UK with what is happening out here. Here are some thoughts…

Lesson 1: Treasure the Community

When I arrived out here, I didn’t know anyone who was playing in LA that was my level. I posted on a local facebook group (Beach Volleyball in Hermosa) and within 2 hours I had three training sessions lined up over that week. It was a reminder to me of how powerful the beach volleyball community is, and how open it can be. OK, it helps being an international player- but how many other sports are there where you can turn up unannounced in a foreign city, send out one message, and then have practises lined up all week.

It’s not a given, though. As a community we have to work hard to stay open; to be welcoming of newcomers, to not be cliquey, to maintain communication routes, and to be friendly to new players and people moving to the area. It’s something special about beach volleyball that we need to fight to keep. It’s also made me think about trying to make it easier for new players to find somewhere to play- we will be developing a platform over the offseason to try to encourage and facilitate this. More to come soon!

Lesson 2: Trust your Values

When I was looking around for volleyball here we looked at a few different places we could go to learn and pay for lessons. I went along to a lesson at Hermosa and watched (I won’t mention who it was with…) and was really surprised. It cost $30 per person for 90 minutes, there were 10 of us on one court, with deflated balls, no antennas, and one coach. The level was hugely mixed and each person didn’t get much coaching input.

I was really surprised at a) the price of the session and b) the quality of the fine details. We would never allow a session like that to run with those standards. We always coach with a minimum ratio of one coach to 8 people and a maximum of 8 people per court. We’d never dream of running an advanced session without antennas, and we spend time looking after the fine details like the number of balls and so on.

It’s a good reminder for us that these things matter, that we should take pride in our quality and that this is something key to our values as a business.

Lesson 3: Bad Weather makes you love the good Weather

The last lesson I have learned is that we really appreciate the good days a lot more than the players out here. In California, when it’s a little windy, or a bit cloudy, they don’t train (or they complain a lot about it). In the UK, we get on with it. If we didn’t, there would be no beach volleyball. I think it makes us better players-we know how to use the conditions, and we can handle them better. It also means that when we do get perfect beach volleyball weather, we really appreciate it and make the most of it. I love the attitude of all the die-hard players that are training through the winter at home and won’t let weather stop them. You guys are the lifeblood of beach volleyball-long may it continue.

I’m looking forward to putting some of what I’ve learned into practise over the next year.

See you on the sand


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