Here in the Pacific NW we are not known for white sandy beaches. Maybe that is why it took me well after college to become enamored with beach volleyball. Growing up my place was on the hardwood, front row, and smack dab in the middle. I loved that experience, but now that I’ve acclimated (a little) to playing in the sand, it has become a favorite pastime. Here are some reasons why you should love it too, and some tips on making the most of it!
1.) It’s fabulous exercise. Compare running in the sand to running on pavement. Then think about covering a whole court with just 2 people (it can also be 4 people), and you can see how it blasts calories. An 185 lb person would burn around 355 calories for 30 minutes of sand play! It is a fast-moving game, and I don’t count down the time like I do on the treadmill.
2.) Injuries are less likely. Not that it can’t happen, but diving into the sand is like a pillow compared to diving onto hardwood. And I have sprained my ankle playing indoor volleyball, but it is less likely in the sand.
3.) You get your Vitamin D! Many of us are stuck indoors for far too long. For those that can tan it’s like killing two birds with one stone.
4.) The setting can be amazing. Playing in the sand with the sun setting against the water can’t be beat. Alki Beach in Seattle is one of my favorites, and it can be breathtaking.
5.) Time spent with friends. Old friends and all the new friends you will make in the volleyball community! Sure you get a few die-hard players, or volleyball elitists, but don’t let a few seeds spoil the whole watermelon ;-).
6.) Get Brazil ready! Be in the know and enjoy rooting for our Olympic Beach Volleyball Teams in one if it’s most popular events.
What you will need to succeed:
1.) A good attitude. Go easy on yourself. I played volleyball for years, but only in a limited role. Now well into playing beach I am still having to improve my fundamentals and adjust to a whole different game. I have a lot more improving ahead of me!
2.) A knowledge of the basics and the rules of the game. Beach Volleyball Rules
There are tons of YouTube videos out there on the basics of passing, hitting, setting etc. Howcast has a bunch of them Beach Volleyball Basics . If you are brand new to volleyball, indoor tutorials will work great, but the main thing is getting hands-on experience. Look into clinics around your area, and they might be only indoor but that is a start. Or at minimum grab a friend and head outside to bump around and practice your new skills.
3.) A designated beach bag. There are so many great beach bags and totes out there right now. I tend to grab Thirty One’s Weekender Totes because they have a zipper (my attempt to keep the sand out) and come in different designs. Heck, you can even personalize it! Weekender Tote. Blogger’s Best Beach Bags of 2014 has some other suggestions.
Your tote should include the following:
Sunblock, sunblock, sunblock! Even on overcast days, I have gotten extremely burnt. Protect that skin! I like SunBum products because they are paraben free. Sun Bum sun protection line Their lip sun sticks come in lots of yummy flavors, and the whole line has a great summertime smell.
Even more natural there are some great home-made sunscreen links out there. You may glisten a little more, but the coconut oil smells delicious and you know it’s safe for your skin. Homemade Sunscreen Link. Just remember with this if you are out for the day you will need to re apply more often, so make sure to package your new DIY sunscreen in a travel worthy container.
Sunglasses. I like a good wrap around kind (preferably polarized). Luckily, the hubs works in the eye business so I was able to score some Versace wrap arounds last season. Other great brands would be Maui Jim’s Maui Jim’s Women’s Sunglasses (their lenses are unbeatable), or Nike and Adidas are classics as well. Whatever brand you choose, you will need something from the glare while you are tracking that volleyball.
Sand socks. If the sand gets too hot to handle, sand socks are a must have. They make you feel a little like you have webbed feet, but are better than blisters! Sand Socks These are pink (my taste), but they come in lots of colors.
A small ziplock bag to protect your phone/camera from sand that gets into your bag.
Snacks and water. Obvious but important. Coconut water is nice if you play all day and need a little electrolyte replacement. My group of friends also have a portable grill, so we all bring things to grill up midway through the day. Fruit is another nice choice that can easily be shared.
4.) Beach Chairs and towels. Every year Costco has great beach chairs for a reasonable price. They have carried Tommy Bahama chairs for the last few seasons. They always look great and have drink holders, pouches etc.
5.) Music! A portable speaker brings the party.
6.) Most importantly, you will need to find someone with a net and a ball, get a net yourself, or go to an area where they are already set up.
Here in Seattle we only have a few months where we can actually play outside. The rest of the year, I play at an indoor sand facility that already has the net set up called Sandbox Sports. Look for one near you if you don’t live by a beach!
I hope this inspires you to give this amazing sport a chance. It seems to bring a little bit of summer year round!