Beach volleyball is a beautiful game especially when the conditions align with what we all dream of gorgeous sunshine, warm white sand, and no wind. But we all know that is a rarity in English beach volleyball so we must learn to adapt our game for when the heavens open and the wind and rain is delivered. Windy wet conditions can affect a player’s performance so we are going to discuss some of the best tips to overcome the challenges of the elements. The techniques and strategies discussed below will help you to excel regardless of the playing conditions and will help you have fun while doing so.
Adjusting Your Serve
Serving is a huge part of the game, it is the first weapon you can use and is the only time when the game is completely still before contact. In the wind a serve can become lethal when the right techniques are utilized. When the wind picks up, and you are serving against it, it is important to aim lower across the net to cut the ball through the wind and reduce the amount of impact the wind will have on the ball. When you are serving with the wind (the wind is behind you) you can embrace a higher float serve and let the wind move the ball as much as possible. This can make the ball very difficult to pass and can help you rack up simple points. Remember your serve is your number one weapon!
Focus on Your Ball Control
During windy conditions it can seem like the ball has a mind of its own and refuses to follow the impressions you make on it. These simple adjustments should help you regain some control when playing ‘wind ball’. Focus on using your platform to set the ball rather than your hands, this will provide more control and direction on the ball. When passing into the wind it is important to keep the pass lower to avoid the wind blowing up under the ball and carrying it off the court. Hitting in the wind can be challenging as the set tends to move much more. Try setting with the wind so that your attacker is hitting back against the wind. This will give you more court to swing into and the wind will provide a lot of topspin.
Attacking in the Wind
As mentioned above it is much easier to hit into the wind, but sometimes the pass or the set doesn’t allow that type of play to happen. So, what other tips and tricks can we try? It is crucial to adjust your approach timing in the wind. When the wind is in your face the set may blow back towards you. If this is the case, wait longer to start your approach and possible even start your approach from further back. These tips will help you stay behind the ball allowing you to have options to swing or shoot. Opposingly, when the wind is behind you when attacking it can cause the ball to move towards the net. We’ve all executed the accidental set over the net kill in the wind! In this situation it helps to shorten your approach and focus on getting your attacking arm up early and high. This will open up more offensive options for you and will allow you to adjust your arm quickly if the ball moves last minute.
Teamwork and Communication
Teamwork and communication are key elements in beach volleyball and play an even more important role when pressure is applied from the wind. The wind provides extra obstacles and can affect the ability to hear your partner on the court. In the wind concentrate on keeping an open line of communication during and after points. Speak clear and loudly whilst keeping your information precise so that the most important information can be heard easily. Constantly discuss the elements with your partner, especially during side switches. Decide on a game plan for each end of the court due to the wind being different on each side. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page and are open to adjusting as the elements change.
Communicate intensely, play as a team, and most importantly have fun. The wind provides a challenge and an opportunity for all!