Doubles volleyball does wonders for amateur players. Not only do they get a ton of serving & passing reps...but those in the stands will invariably see players enjoying themselves: engaged, smiles or strong emotional connection to the game.
-Playing outside is fun. There's plenty of studies that show being outside in nature lights up brain activity.
-The game is difficult and covering the whole court with 2 people produces a lot of fun plays. Most of those plays don't have anything to do with being tall (which most of us aren't)....Instead these plays usually relate around effort, defense, or vb IQ.
-Doubles players are involved the ENTIRE game. Every play requires both teammates and mistakes don't equate to bench time. No substitutions means no bench frownie faces or impatient parents in the stands. Note: you'll rarely see a kid happy on the bench -- but they do exist. It happens b/c a player spends most of his competitive career on the bench and learns to prefer the safety of it rather than the chaos of the game.
This is an excerpt from "YOU ARE PAYING FOR PRACTICE, NOT PLAYING" -- JOHN KESSEL, USA VOLLEYBALL. He breaks down how many touches (which is how talent is built) your kid gets indoors...
"Let me explain this reality further – If your child is on a team of 12, when they are playing in tournaments, there is one person touching, and 23 others watching - including the opponents you are playing and their subs. Each side has parents usually too focused on the winning, and not the process, and each want their loving child to play. As we learn by doing, NOT watching (just think about how a child has watched you drive for more than 15 years, but has no clue to how to drive until they DO it), tournaments are not where you get good. Play in a tourney pool of four and not advance, as half the teams experience, and your child has been part of a 1 touch/23 watch totally gamelike learning experience for about 2.5 hours on average (3 matches lasting 50 min each). Meanwhile at practice, done even just twice a week for 2 hours for 2 weeks before the next tourney, with just playing you have 8 hours at a 1 touch/11 watch ratio. As about half of practice at this period is smaller group training you have 4 hours of 1 touch/5 or so watch (if doubles 1 touch/3 watch ratio, so lots of learning by doing) and 4 of 1/11 so that averages to 8 hours of about a 1 to 8 ratio – 3 times the learning-by-doing ratio and for almost 3 times as long. This means practice adds up to nearly a 10 fold level of learning for your child compared to competitions. Playing in tournaments is PART of why you practice, but if your child is not a starter, they are not missing out on that much learning by contacting the ball in those 2.5 hours comparatively. Want to get your child more learning beyond practice and tourneys? Have them go play or compete in doubles play, against anyone willing, on any surface of court, including against adults, and they will get better faster for the indoor game."
The soft playing surface and the lack of people on the court are just some of the reasons why beach players' have fewer injuries and play for more years. Volleyball in general is an old-person's sport (players reach the top of their game in early-mid 30s...compared to most other sports were 29 is considered old and on the way down (football, basketball, etc).
There's 2 kinds of injuries: recurring and incidental. Incidental injury occurs from a specif act -- like falling & spraining an ankle. Recurring injuries happen over time, -- like years of armswings with poor technique yielding in shoulder pain. Incidental injuries tend to be more severe, whereas recurring injuries will slowly be revealed.
Recurring injuries occur in both beach & indoor. Indoor players do the same thing over and over and over, and beach players touch the ball TONS of times which can also cause recurring injury. I notice Kerri Walsh with the shoulder tape for many years and Clay Stanley without - so indoor/outdoor has nothing to do with recurring injury. Recurring injury is generally caused by technique or muscle over-compensation.
Incidental injuries on the other hand, occur less frequent on the beach. There's less people to bump into: there's
Typical indoor incidental injuries:
twisted ankles (from landing on an players foot),
dislocated fingers (blocking),
knee ligament tears (landing & turning)
Typical outdoor incidental injuries:
dislocated fingers (blocking)
Some of the reasons sand has fewer injuries (which means a longer career):
-The playing surface is soft and has lots of give
-Beach players do all the contacts which means their muscle growth is more balanced overall (vs indoor players that do 2-3 sets of movements for the entire season)
-Doubles strategy doesn't require massive amounts of power to get kills (only 2 people defending court)
-The distance between you and other players is much less. Indoor players have 150 square feet per player while outdoor players have 364 square feet per player. That's 2x as much room.
-B/c there are only 2 players, the only touch between partners that's in doubt is the pass (if i pass, that means you have to set). indoor there are 6 which means any touch between teammates can be contested and therefor cause an incidental injury.
Touches are important to grow talent. So is feedback.
This is Talent at it's simplest...."repetitions and feedback". The kid who practices at home every day should have more talent than the one who doesn't. Likewise for the kid who receives better feedback from an experienced coach. And while feedback is a function of luck and your coaching selection process....touches are democratic. Everyone can touch a ball regardless of their coach. Touches are one of the MAIN reasons beach accelerates your growth.
Let's look at the difference in playing 6s vs 2s and its affect on average touches per possession:
Let's assume a possession in volleyball uses up the allotted 3 touches per possession. If there are 2 players to share these 3 touches, then each doubles player will receive 1 1/2 touches per possession, on average. If there are 6 players that share the 3 touches, then each indoor player receives an average of 1/2 a touch per possession. That's a different of 300%. Would you like a 300% raise? A 300% jump in talent? A 300% ROI?
By this conversion, a beach player in a game to 21 points will get the same amount of touches as an indoor player that plays a game to 62 points!!! Factor that out for years....
Mathematically speaking, Beach volleyball accelerates your growth.
Struggle is good. Consider a tree who receives water at the base of it's trunk regularly...it's roots will remain near the water source. Water a different tree further away and in random spots and the roots must branch out in search of water. Which tree would you rather have in a storm (a tree whose roots are in 1 place or a tree whose roots are spread out)?
Beach is full of struggle. And if you can ascribe to a growth methodology, you'll understand that struggle is code for learning. There's plenty of "learning" (struggle) on the beach:
1. Struggle through the sand on every play. It's no secret that sand training makes your legs struggle to move faster and quicker. Legs will get tired & fatigued faster....producing more growth.
2. Struggle through the elements: sun, wind, sand, etc. It's been said that highly successful people are that way because of their ability to hold their attention on one thing. Beach improves attention by trying to get you to focus on the wind, sun, sand.
3. Struggle through your weakest skill. If you're weakest skill on the team is passing, then the other team will send you most of the serves. If it's setting, they'll serve the other guy to make you set. If you're struggling at a skill, the other team will give you lots of practice until you improve it.
4. Struggle through your strategies & tactics. There's no coach out there telling you to direct who to serve or where to dig. You must learn the game. Your beach coach is only there to guide....
If it's easy, you're not learning. Makes me think back to my spelling quizzes when i would be proud of a 9/10. If i was really learning, i'd be scoring 4/6 out of 10.
Please note, there's a huge difference between struggle and deep struggle (nearly impossible).
SOMEONE DECIDES IF I PLAY???
Indoor encourages selection, while beach encourages inclusion.
Beach volleyball has no subs and non-invasive coaching (players must coach themselves during the game). Beach strategy also funnels all the balls to the person who has a weak skill (pass, set, hit, etc). This means players get more reps at the thing they need most. Also, means that the stronger players have to find ways to earn points (serve, set better, etc).
In order for me to hit in a game of indoor, someone needs to choose me to be on the court....someone must also decide that i play in the front row....and yet still someone must also choose whether to set me or the other front row hitter(s). 3 sets of decisions must go my way in order for me to hit a ball. That's pretty tough considering a coach can only watch 1 person at a time. Hope that i make a good player when coach is watching.
Imagine a group that always lifts up the weakest player...this makes the group stronger, overall. Getting the weak guy up to par, means he'll grow a lot. In indoor volleyball, the weakest player is often hidden...thus the weak player will not improve quickly (or at all).
Rep your weaknesses on the beach or hide them indoor.
if FUTSOL is to SOCCER;
then BEACH VOLLEYBALL is to INDOOR VOLLEYBALL
Several years ago, when the Brazilians were dominating soccer, the world looked closer at what they were doing. it turns out the country has lots of ghetto where there aren't many big grass fields for soccer, so they had to shrink the courts to less than a basketball court. They called this futsol. As a result of Brazilian players competing in this shrunked arean, the players learned to fake out opponents in tight quarters. And when the players were re-introduced to the HUGE pitch (relatively), they were able to fake out their opponents with more ease because of the increase in space.
It's worth noting that there's a soccer futsol league on Maui...i've heard one of the best in the country.
Beach volleyball reminds me of this. The sand court is shorter -- 730 square feet to 900 square feet.
Karch Kiraly is an accomplished indoor and beach player. Now he's the US womens indoor coach. Have a peak from one of his articles:
Excerpt from Karch's article, "The Game Teaches the Game"
"Certainly, a degree of proper coaching is essential to player development. I credit much of my success to a strong fundamental background I gained while playing at the beach with my father beginning at the age of six. Rick Olmstead, who was my high school coach in Santa Barbara, expanded on that base, and so did the legendary Al Scates while I was at UCLA. Both my U.S. National Team coaches, Doug Beal and Marv Dunphy, furthered my development with their knowledge of the game. I'm still learning today as I work with Hugh McCutcheon, our great U.S. Women's National Team coach [2009-12]."