Beach Volleyball is a more intense sport than most people give it credit for, so this post is a quick guide to preparing for beach volleyball, whether you mean to go to a team practice, casually play on the beach with friends, or play a serious game on the court. Some of the most important ways of preparing for a day of volleyball include making sure you have the right equipment, being properly hydrated and nourished, and stretching before and after practicing or playing.
One aspect of volleyball many people discount is the need for proper personal equipment – while it doesn’t require the same intensity of gear as something like hockey or football, there are some tips to follow. If you’re playing on a court, it’s essential to ensure you have the right footwear (which may vary a bit based on the individual). Typically, it’s best to wear shoes with plenty of support and maneuverability. It’s also important to wear breathable clothes that won’t malfunction in the middle of a match, such as the shorts and shirts many wear to play soccer. Outdoors, these also protect against UV.
Another crucial element to volleyball and any intensive sport for that matter is staying properly hydrated and nourished. The best way to stay hydrated is by drinking small amounts of water often, such as 200-300ml over the course of each hour on a hot day. By the time you notice dehydration – such as clamminess and lack of sweating, a headache, or lack of saliva in your mouth – your performance is already compromised, and your health is at risk. To ensure your body retains water, you can bring electrolyte additive powder and mix it with your water; however, most Western diets already get plenty of salt.
To retain your energy throughout the day and keep enjoying volleyball, nutrition is also quite important. For any intensive sport, your body needs accessible energy, such as simple carbohydrates (whole grains, honey, colourful vegetables, etc.) throughout the day to keep your mood up and keep your body going hard. You should start your day off with a protein and fat-heavy meal, which will provide all the long-term energy you need to avoid dips during the day while you’re playing.
Once you’ve done your pre-court prep, including having the proper equipment, nutrition, and hydration, it’s time to stretch. Volleyball, at some point or another, uses just about every muscle in the human body, so it’s necessary to ensure you do a full body stretch. Focus initially on muscles below your waistline; hip flexors are a great way to start (similar to lunges) but follow by stretching your quads by laying on your side and pulling your heel toward your glutes. Also, be sure to flex your hamstrings by sitting down and isolating it through touching your toes – take the opportunity to stretch your glutes as well by pulling your heels toward your groin. Volleyball players use their calves constantly, so throw some calf raises in there.
While lower body is important, a volleyball players core holds everything together, and back injuries are frequent among players who don’t develop it properly (and even among those who do!). To warm up your back, loosen it, and keep it strong, try to regularly use Yoga’s ‘Cat and Dog’ and ‘Prayer Squat Pose.’ YouTube is littered with demonstrations. Finally, ensure you properly stretch your shoulders and chest. One great way to do this is to stand and find a wall or post, then rest your palm against it and lean forward until your arm extends and you feel the stretch over the course of several seconds; then, reverse the position. This will stretch out your shoulders, arms, and chest.
While some of this may seem overwhelming, the benefit here is that many of these tips for preparing for playing volleyball are great for assisting you in preparing for all kinds of sports and intensive activities – the main thing is to have a great time without risking your physical health. Proper equipment, nutrition/hydration, and warm-ups are the best way to do that!