Sand Volleyball - What's Not to Love?

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This past weekend Jenny Hahn, JVA Executive Director, and I traveled down to beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama for the 2013 AVCA Collegiate Sand Championships. Neither of us had ever been to Gulf Shores and it was our first trip to the national championships. It didn't take us long to realize what an awesome event it is, and something every volleyball fan, player and coach should witness.

The atmosphere could not be more different from indoor. Seating is wherever you find a spot - it is a free for all - no tickets, no assign seating. Just pick a spot in the sand, bring your own beach chair and umbrella and enjoy some volleyball... in the sun. Hopefully you do not run into some rainy weather, however, as there was some rain late afternoon on the first day of competition, Jenny and I simply made our way into the restaurant right across the street (less than 50 feet away) and grabbed a bite to eat while still being able to watch the main court. Poor us!

Besides the fact that there are only 2 players on the court, the player/coach interaction is much different than indoor. Coaches manage their time among the 5 teams they have competing so many times a team does not have their coach their and have to find a way to win. Plus, during play, coaches are not supposed to get up and coach their team. They can coach them during timeouts and during side changes while they walk along side the court to the other "bench" area. It is really refreshing to watch players trust their teammate and communicate mostly with their teammate, rather than look over at the bench toward their coach. Players need to learn how to face adversity, get a side-out and score points by relying on their teammate.

As I mentioned, each college team had 5 pairs of teams competing against the other college team's 5 pairs. So 5 courts were simultaneously competing and the college team that won 3 out of the 5 matches was the overall winner. This means that every match counts, regardless of what seed or ranking your individual pairs team is. So when the score was 2-2, everyone made their way to the remaining court still in play and before you knew it, the court was surrounded by cheering fans. It was awesome!

We witnessed the development of volleyball maturity and volleyball IQ by watching the juniors sand tournament taking place during the collegiate championships. Over 200 teams signed up to play in age divisions 12-18. Parents sat along side the courts and looked surprisingly relaxed while their kids competed. Parents... relaxed? YES! After all, you are outside, on a beach, ocean view, watching your child play a sport she loves. There were no arguments about the score, a reffing call, the other team's coach; it was all about the enjoyment of the sport and the experience.

The JVA is excited to grow and develop sand volleyball as the AVCA continues to promote and grow the sport at the collegiate level. As indoor clubs look to expand and form a sand volleyball program, existing sand programs are growing, and many sand-only clubs are forming, we need to grow together and share information. What are the best training methods out there? How are club directors growing their sand program? How do you find and train your sand coaches?

This game is on the rise and spiking a fever. Sand volleyball... what's not to love?

For more photos of the sand championships and JVA sand updates and education, follow the JVA on FaceBook.

By Briana Schunzel

JVA Marketing & Membership Coordinator


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