Sun, Sand and Health Benefits: You’ll Love Beach Volleyball

If this winter weather has you dreaming about sun, sea and sand, why not indulge your fantasies by considering a summery fitness trend, like beach volleyball. Not only does it get you out on the beach, which does wonders for anyone’s overall sense of wellbeing, but beach volleyball has a number of wellness benefits. Women can expect to burn up to 495 calories per game, while men might burn a whopping 550 calories. However, according to Linda Drummond, wellness expert and fitness writer for Body + Soul, that’s not all.


Drummond notes, ‘In an average match you work your cardiovascular system and tone your core, glutes, lower back, thighs and calves, but in a low-impact fashion. You can also tone the muscles in your upper body: pecs, shoulders, arms and upper back. The benefits aren’t just physical; the game’s also a great way to improve hand-eye coordination and boost mental agility. Flexibility and physical agility are also improved with regular play. Injuries from playing beach volleyball are rare, and that plenty of people recovering from injury take up beach volleyball to maintain their fitness and aid their recovery.’


Convinced? Of course you are! But how does it work? ‘The game of beach volleyball is similar to the indoor version,’ Drummond explains. ‘Each team is allowed three hits of the ball before returning it to the other side of the net, and no player can hit the ball twice in a row. The ball is generally returned over the net using the hands and arms, but it is permissible for any part of the body to be used to hit the ball. Teams can only score when they’re serving and the first to 15 points, with a break of two points, is the winner. However, there are differences between beach and regular volleyball. Beach volleyball is played on soft sand, between 30 and 40 centimetres deep, and is traditionally played outdoors.’


Drummond continues, ‘Players of beach volleyball have no set positions and are free to move around the court to attack the ball. At an elite level, beach volleyball is played by two teams of two very athletic players, but beginners can have six a side. The soft sand court surface of beach volleyball makes for spectacular play, with players able to fling themselves around and dive for the ball in order to score a point without the same risk of injury as indoors.’ In fact, spectators have enjoyed watching beach volleyball since the late 1800s, when volleyball enthusiasts saw the opportunity to spend even more time on the sand and shifted the sport seaside. Richie “Doc” Coles is an instructor with the Sydney Beach Volleyball School and says that what he loves about the sport is it gives him the chance to get on the sand at every opportunity.


So that’s the benefits of beach volleyball, how it works and where it started, but how do YOU get started? Here are Drummond’s tips for having a go at beach volleyball:


1. Know the terrain: ‘Familiarise yourself with the soft sand, Drummond advises. ‘Go for sprints, long, endurance runs or jump in the sand.’


2. Give your fitness an edge: Drummond recommends, ‘Use stairs to increase your all-round fitness for the game. Run up them, jump, hop or crawl up them.’ She adds, ‘The higher your level, the more physically demanding the game becomes, so prepare your body with strength work in the gym, agility training and some flexibility work such as Pilates or yoga.’


3. Talk to your team: ‘Communication is key,’ asserts Drummond. ‘Talk to your teammates and learn to shout out for the ball. It’s the first thing beginners need to master.’

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