For obvious reasons, the question of what to do for training during quarantine has come up quite frequently. I have been avoiding answering this question in order to allow myself time to find some really good drills that can be done both by yourself as well as with any of your family members that may want to get involved. First, let's kind of break down the things that will be important for you coming out of quarantine in order to hit the ground running. I truly believe that this year more than any other, college coaches trying to recruit for next year will see a very large divide between those who took all of this time during quarantine off, and those that continued to get work in every day. With the NCAA granting red shirts to all 2019 seniors, there will be a bottle neck of players anyway so coaches will most likely not be OVER-recruiting and taking a lot of walk-on players. How are you going to make yourself stand out with very little time, if any, with your coaches when this all ends? Will you be the person that found an excuse or the person that found a solution? The best part is, that choice is completely yours and you have to be willing to accept the result of whatever your choice is. Since you are taking the time to read through this blog post, I am hoping that you are the one who is actively seeking out solutions!
1. The sand. One of the most difficult pieces of beach volleyball is the elements. The wind, the sun in your eyes, and the sand and how you move in it. I have heard about many athletes getting out for about a half hour a day and just getting in the sand to move. Star drills, approach jumping and block jumping are all big keys to feeling comfortable when you get back into the sand. While many places are closed, if you do find a place to be able to get out in the sand and do these things, it will really help you to not feel like your sand legs are gone once you get back at it.
2. Physical strength and conditioning. While gyms are closed, and you can't get in to lift weights, what can you do to stay strong and keep your cardio up? My recommendation here is to either get out and find an empty stadium (stairs) somewhere and get a workout in, or to just order a simple set of bands to get workouts in. The product below gives you a whole set of workout bands along with a poster of exercises to help you target specific muscle groups. I have also included a link to a great workout that is beach volleyball specific using these bands. Since you need explosion in beach volleyball, target the muscles you use to jump. Core muscles along with keeping your shoulder muscles strong are key components as well.
If you are going to try to do a stadium workout, here is the one I used to use that helped me to have a 40" vertical. Find the longest straight run of stairs that you can. You only need one set from top to bottom since you won't be doing the whole stadium. Each rep is trying to get to the top as fast as you can and then walking back to the bottom. I can promise you that it will feel easy at first but that it will almost shock your body and your legs will feel like jello before you know it.
1st- Hit each step as fast as you can all the way to the top. Stay on your toes, it's like a fast feet sprint to the top. This will specifically target your calf muscles and you will feel them start to burn.
2nd- Doubles... Basically the same concept but instead of hitting every step, you hit every second step and go as fast as you can to the top. This will target your quad muscles which are big muscles in helping you to jump.
3rd- Triples... Now this will kind of feel like a lunge to most of you. You may need a little bit of a hop to catch your balance as you reach the next step, but try to go as fast as you can to the top. This will target your glutes which are also big muscles used in jumping.
4th- single leg hops- They are exactly what they sound like. Hop as quickly as you can to the top. Again, targeting your calf muscles in a different way.
That's one full set. Try to see how many sets you can do! Video it and send it to me and I will post it!
3. Solo skills. Now you are probably looking for some skill things that you can do. What can you do by yourself? What can you do with people that don't really play volleyball? What can you do if you only have one ball?
For activities that you can do by yourself with only one ball, there are quite a few. Some of us have more space than others, so here are a couple of great tools to help. The first is just a simple volleyball tether where a harness is strapped to you and you can hit the ball and then it rebounds right back to you. It is cheap and a really good way to practice your swing, and your contact point without having to hit walls that your parents may not really like. You can also use this for working on different kinds of set where you want to push the ball a little bit.
The second is a much more all-inclusive (and much more pricey) option for those of you who are incredibly serious about getting more individual reps even when the quarantine ends. It is an investment, so make sure you are serious before you purchase it. If you have a basketball hoop, you can use that too!
4. The little touches. We have heard from a lot of college coaches about just how impressed they are with the ball control that our girls have then they come to them. It's all of the little touches, the little things that matter most. The little couches are what will improve your serve receive and your passing in general. As you are doing this, think about your technique. Are you standing straight up? What does your form look like for each touch? Is it the form your coach has been working with you on?
Start with one arm passes. Use one arm and get 25 touches passing in a row with just that arm. Then switch arms and do the same thing. Work your way up to 100 with each arm. When you have mastered that, try passing the first rep with your palm up and the second rep with your palm down. Same thing, work your way up to 100 touches in a row.
Next, alternate pass to yourself and then hand set to yourself again working your way up to 100.
Next, pass low, then pass high, pass low, then pass high. Alternate
The next step would be to pass low, hand set high, pass low, hand set high. Really engage your legs when you are setting so that it isn't just all arms and shoulders.
5. Setting: For this skill I am going to link you to my good friend Sarah Sponcil's page. If you don't know Sarah, you may want to do your research on her as a player. Many have said, including Stein Metzger (UCLA head coach/former olympian) himself that Sarah has the best hands in the game, male or female. Here is a link to a video she put together specifically for hand setting during the quarantine. Check out her site while you are there! She's one of the best in the game!
6. Film Breakdown. There are about a million things to look for when breaking down film. Looking at your own film can be a great way to help you to improve. I think the biggest piece of breaking down your own film rather than having someone else do it for you is that it helps you to process exactly what you are seeing and form questions in your own mind as to how to fix it. A lot of people focus so much on hitting and defense, but there are so many pieces to the process of the hit that start long before you ever take your first step into your approach. Are you looking at those? What did your pass look like? Where was the location of your pass? What was the height of your pass? Did you make the adjustments with your footwork of your approach that your coach has been working with you on based on your pass? I challenge you to watch your own game film and start a list of questions about things that you are doing. Put your game film into imovie and watch it in slow motion. You will see a LOT of stuff. Write a TON of questions down and then go through and see how many of them you can answer about yourself by watching more film. If you still have questions, drop them in the comments to this post and I will answer them for you!
The very best part about all of this time off is that it is YOUR chance to either close the gap on those ahead of you, or to open the gap between you and those behind you. No one is forcing you to do any of this and if you are serious about the time you put into it, you can see some great results. I will leave you with the quote that my dad put on my ceiling. Some of you who have read some of my other posts have seen this, but it is definitely pertinent here.
"While you lay here, somewhere, someone else is practicing. When you meet him in head to head competition, he will beat you."