Video: An AVA practice session - notice the players keep focused on the rally...not the rain.
Attention is HUGE in volleyball...not so much in basketball and other possession sports. But in volleyball and other rebound sports (tennis), if you don't have attention your touch is over and done with in .2 seconds. How many times have you heard a coach say, "Pay Attention"!
Playing beach volleyball is difficult because of all the challenges to overcome (compared to traditional indoor vb). There's so many things that can move your attention from the game: there's only 2 players a team; the sun makes it tough to look at the ball clearly; the wind moves it around like a buzzing bee; and the sand makes you move like my grandpa walking through mud. To cope and succeed with all these challenges, one must build up muscular strength AND internal strength....aka, focus, attention, will power, etc.
Attention is a function found in your neo-cortex -- the front and newest part of the brain. This part of our brain separates us from the primates. It's job is will power: Holding attention where i want...despite the presence of noises, smells, notions, etc. The brain is built to have a super spastic attention (like A.D.D.) so that we can move our focus around quickly, noticing lots of life threatening stuff (tigers in the bushes, bad food smells, etc). So when this neocortex came along in our evolution, we were able to hold our focus for longer amounts of time (example seen in tool building). This is kinda funny to me b/c the human attention span is shrinking and now less than a gold fish (reference article). But there is a saving grace....attention is a skill. And all skills can be improved with repetitions and feedback. Side note: the best way to improve your attention is to sit still and not move for as long as you can (Meditating).
So, the next time you're playing on the court, notice how strong your attention is (or isn't). I know my attention has a hard time with wind....soooo frustrating! Notice distractions that steal your attention. Some of my favorite distractions are:
Keep your focus especially when there's lots of reasons not to. With practice and lots of beach volleyball, your attention can grow stronger.