As a beach volleyball athlete, at one point or another, you have probably envied another player for something completely out of our control. Their height. We would all love to be one of the giants storming the beaches and blocking balls without using your max jump height. But for most of us this is not the case, we cannot control our height, but we do have the ability to become the very best attackers we can at the height we were graced with. Here at Fireball, we cannot make you rapidly grow but we can give you information for the best ways shorter players can score more points. Being a shorter player may seem daunting, but it is important to switch your mindset to perceiving it as a challenge with creative solutions. The best part is that taking your offense to the next level as a smaller player isn’t that hard its just different. The first step of improving your offense is accepting the height you are at and what that means. Not all your kills will look the same as someone who is 6”5, you may not be able to bounce on the six-foot line. But by utilizing these tactics you’ll be able to do something much better, win games!
We are going to share our three most successful tips for shorter players, implement these and you’ll switch from envying the tallest on the sand to loving your own consistency and creativity.
Side Out Solution No.1: Vision
Vision is the beach volleyball term for being able to see the court better, all elements of the game rely on vison. One aspect that is rarely discussed, in reference to vision, is your pass. Having an errant or bad pass will make it much more difficult to see the court. This is because you will have to track the set more intently versus using your vision to track the opposing team’s defence. So, the first step is nailing your pass, after this you’ll be moving onto your point of hesitation. Whilst this is happening it is important to be checking the other side of the court, using your vision. Where are they setting up on the court? What’s the defender doing? What shots are open? From this initial ‘look’ we can learn a lot. Many defenders show exactly what they are doing before they do it, it is just a matter of understanding defence positioning and being able to see what they are doing. As a shorter player it is much more difficult to power through a defence, so it is crucial to use your vision to understand your oppositions defence. It is more likely that you will need to rely on your vision to choose the right shot and ultimately be more deceptive than the taller players on the sand.
Side Out Solution No.2: Approach Timing
In a previous blog post we discussed where you should start your approach from to ensure you are in the best possible position for offense. The next step of this is to ensure that you are approaching to the ball at the appropriate time. The ultimate tip for shorter players on offense is to keep the ball in front of you. If you’re able to keep the ball in front of you, it will free up your entire offense. You’ll be able to see the court. Your swings will be faster, sharper. Your shots will be flatter and crisper. In essence: Everything about your offense will improve so long as the ball is in front of you.
If you’re using a standard four-step approach or a three-step approach then the speed of your approach should begin with your slowest step, faster step, then fastest, most explosive steps at the end. This will keep the ball in front, and it will make your most explosive steps at the end, maximizing your vertical leap and range of offensive attacks. At this point in our attack, we have:
Shuffled to our point of hesitation,
Taken a look at the defense,
Made a good, strong, explosive approach, keeping the ball in front of us,
And now it’s time to put a ball away.
Side Out Solution No.3: Shot Depth Variation
Imagine you’re on the court playing against an opponent and you notice that they are only scoring points by shooting short. As a defender what would you do? Play shallow defence. You would adjust to match and beat their tendencies.
Now imagine you are playing against that same player, and they suddenly realize you are playing shallow defence, so they switch it up and only shoot deep, deep angle, deep high lines. What would you do now, as a defender? You would play deeper defence. But now you have just allowed the hitter to go back to their preferred offense, shooting short.
So, in this scenario you’ve been beaten short two maybe three times, so you adjusted, and now you’ve been beaten deep two or maybe three times. So, what do you do? Most likely serve the other person. Defending a player that can hit every shot on the court is extremely difficult to defend. Not only is it important to be able to hit a variety of locations on the court but it is also crucial to be able to vary the depth and speed of the shot. This makes you very unpredictable as a hitter, and as a result, it will drive defenders crazy. If you are a shorter player embrace your height and use it to your advantage. Use your vision, excellent approach timing, and shot variation to drive defenses mad and be the most difficult player to read on the court!
Go out and try these Sideout solutions on the court and let us know how they work for you!