Volleyball digging and making great defensive plays on the beach takes discipline and patience.
The skill for playing great defense on the beach is more of a art than a science.
As a defender, you'll face many different kinds of attacks. An attacker could swing hard or hit a soft shot. A great defender indoors may not necessarily be a great defender in the sand.
Indoors, you have a much smaller area you need to cover.
When playing indoor, you hold your position and play the ball in front of you.
On the beach, the ball could come high forcing you to take the ball with your hands, or you might have to take a 30-foot dash and dive for the ball.
"I know that if you go after every ball on defense,
you're going to get some of those impossible balls up from time to
time....and win some important games because of it."
-- Karch Kiraly
Always start in an athletic stance. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width, well-balanced, and ready to move in any direction.
You want to start with your arms and hands apart, ready to move to the ball first before you dig it.
Digging hard-driven balls
For a hard-driven ball, cushion the impact, keeping the ball on your side of the net. Pass the ball at least 10 feet high so your partner can get to it.
Ready to Move and React on Defense
When volleyball digging, you might pull your arms back a little or fall back to help absorb some of the force.
If you can, always use two arms when you dig.
Watch your face!
If a ball comes hard to your face, use the overhand volleyball digging technique by letting the ball hit your palms and fingers all at once. In sand volleyball, it's legal to slightly lift and push a hard-driven ball with your hands. Slightly catch the ball and push it to the target position.
Great defensive players know that playing great defense is all about having the right attitude.
Great defenders believe they can get every ball, no matter where it is. This requires you to go hard after every ball, hurling your body toward it to get it up.
If you can only get one arm on it, use the one that's closest to the ball. This can be difficult if you have to use your non-dominant arm.
Being Mobile in the Grass
The key to volleyball digging making great defensive plays
The key is to get the ball up. You then must get up and get in position to attack.
For a ball that's really hard to make a play on, don't worry about how well you pass it. Don't worry about accuracy and just focus on getting the ball up to the middle of the court so your partner can set it.
It's important to play the ball low on defense. Being low gives you more time to make a play on the ball.
This is also true for when volleyball setting or when you have to run down a ball that's deflected off your partner blocking at the net. If you stay low, you will get some surprising saves that can turn matches around.
Where you start on defense is called positioning. Usually you should start about 10 or 15 feet back from the net. This position depends on who you're playing. For example, if your opponent has the ability to hit the ball down at sharp angles into the court, then you'll have to adjust your positioning.
From this position, you must be ready to go in any direction or distance to get to the ball.
Knowing your range
Volleyball digging and playing great defense is all about "knowing your range". Great defenders know exactly how much of the court they can give up. Your ability to anticipate and read the play that's unfolding influences where you should be positioned on defense.
For example, if you are highly skilled at reading and anticipating, then you can leave more court open for your opponent. This gives the illusion that there is more court for your opponent to hit into. As a defender, you can "bait" the hitter into thinking there is an open spot. Since you "know your range", you can easily run down the shot which leads to making a great defensive play.
Quickness, reading dinks or shots, knowing what your opponent does well (what shots they like to hit) are all important factors to making great defensive plays.