In these blogs we have spoken a lot about what things to consider and think about when wanting to design a plan or a system to help you achieve your sporting goals. We have talked about how to mentally be ready to play, and how not to get too affected by what happens in a game.
If we where to build a beach volleyball house, the system would be the plans developed together with the architect (coaches), the mental stuff would be the main builder (players) on site managing the day to day stuff and today we talk about the building blocks.
Obviously, if you are building a house, you want the entire house to be strong. Although, as explained in the „how to build you system„. If you priorities everything, you prioritise nothing! Now, I am not an actual builder but, I did spend enough summers on building sites with my dad to know that you need to start with the foundation, then the floor, the walls and then the roof.
In building a house your currency is measured in time and money, in training your currency is time and effort. If you build a house and spend the most of your money on things like fancy doors, windows and a hot-tub but the quality of the overall house suffers you will forever be searching for quick fixes, gimmicks and fades to make it feel better, more modern and up to date.
This goes the same for training. If you spend the majority of your time and effort on things that don’t happen often in games or is not statistically relevant to winning or losing matches. Then you will always be looking for that next shortcut to success from watching the latest trending videos on social media.
So where to start?
The training drill above is not necessary wrong, but if that is main priority in the search to becoming a better player. Then it becomes the wrong tool for the job (eg. using a screwdriver to hammer a nail). In the real world this happens more often than you think and when questioned why are they doing it, a lot of the time the reply is, „I seen a professional team do it.“
You really need to think where do we make the most points in a game and work from there. I would with confidence say that the number #1 way to make points is the same for the majority of players regardless of level and gender. #2 would also be pretty fixed in 2nd place with #3 and #4 changing depending on your strengths / weaknesses as a player and team. So take into consideration how you play the game and at what level you play at.
So, without further waiting lets get into the big rocks of building.
A lot of this for me has to do with the demands of the game, but also our own expectations. Many people think expectations in sport are, e.g. to win all my attacking points, defend all the opponents attacks and make lots of aces and blocks. This is what you would like to happen, however, it is just not realistic. So, when talking about expectations I am referring to realistic expectations.
Because life is always good when your expectations are met and bad when they aren’t.
Building our realistic expectations
- Like building a house, our foundations are made of our reception quality and the ability to attack after serve-receive. This is commonly know as the sideout phase or kill phase 1 (K1). As I previously said at most levels this phase is where teams will make the most points.
- Next is putting the walls in place. This is creating good defensive touches (meaning defending a ball that leads to an attacking opportunity). This is probably the next most common way teams make points and is often referred to as the break-phase (K2). It has been often said that a winning team will probably sideout (K1) somewhere around 60-70% meaning that break-phase is somewhere around 30-40%. But this is known to vary depending on level and gender. For example, in the womens‘ game there is a closer relationship between percentage of points won in sideout (K1) in to break-phase (K2) in comparison to the men’s game.
- Now it’s time to put the roof on and depending on the level and strengths of your own skills it could be a toss-up between serving or blocking. For example, Andres Mol blocks more balls than he wins with aces. So unless you are a great blocker, or play at a higher level where blocking becomes more important, I would stick with serving as the 3rd building block.
- After serving and blocking being a toss up for 3rd/4th, the next most likely way to win points would be opponent errors. I would relate this to be like the electric and water of the house. You would like to think you can always rely on them being there, but as soon as they are not, it is very difficult to live in a house without electric or water. Same goes for playing against opponents who don’t make any errors.
- The last step would be to make a nice garden (some flowers, a pond, trees, maybe even a beach volleyball court) and this is where we talk about the intangible parts of the game. Setting would be the biggest one as you don’t make direct points but it has a massive influence on the rhythm of the game. Also, think about the pressure you can put on the opponents. How about all the sideout attacks, break-phase attacks and services that don’t necessarily win points. If you can put the opponent under enough pressure, then you can sit back, relax and enjoy the view of getting that easy free ball situation.
If everything goes right, you have something that looks like this:
So, what to do with this new found information?
You should weigh up the importance of what the game and opponent demands from you to be successful at your level. Then choose to invest your currency (time and effort) as a player or coach to priorities the general big stuff (sideout K1) and as performance improves, start to prioritise the more specific big stuff (break phase K2), eventually leading into the general small stuff (serving and blocking) and specific small stuff (pressuring the opponents).
Don’t sweat the small stuff before the big stuff
Make sure that at the beginning of your development journey your training time and effort should make it clear to anyone watching you train what your big stuff is. Don’t get caught up in the something new / something fresh and just doing something for the sake of it. If it is not that important make sure it features less frequently in training or at least for a shorter duration than the big stuff.
As extra, if you enjoyed the image of building a beach volleyball house. If anyone wants to draw what they think a beach volleyball house should look like, create something and send it to me at [email protected] and I can post some interesting pictures up on our social media pages.