Top 5 Things that are KILLING your game. Part 3: Not maximizing space for your hitting arm.

After coaching thousands of beach volleyball players over the years I’ve recently noticed that I’ve been able to put a few pieces of advice on repeat. There are certain types of errors that run absolutely rampant throughout the amateur population. The interesting thing is that the same mistakes are being made from beginners all the way to AAA players. The difference maker between those groups is usually time and repetitions. At VolleyCamp Hermosa we run training camps and lessons for every level. We have even run trips to Spain. Sign up for our email list to stay updated!

Some players put in the work so they get better at controlling the ball how they want to but their game is not designed. It isn’t choreographed in a way that allows them to hit the top level. In a 5 Part series I will be sharing the problems I see every day that hold players back and the EASY FIXES that can be made so they can reach the next level.

Disclaimer: Everyone teaches the game differently. Most people teach how they were taught and this is not always proper. Many people fear the process of seeking new learning opportunities or studying any information that might challenge their beliefs, it can be a blow to the ego.

Should you choose not to employ any of our methods, I will not be offended but as always I recommend you keep an open mind, seek out multiple high level teachers and watch a few thousand hours of film before promoting your theories of the game. TEACHING for 10 years does NOT necessarily mean you have been LEARNING for 10 years. Don’t search through these words looking for things to criticize. Read them to find something you can use whether it solidify your theory or challenge you to look at the game in a different light.

You can also look at our video tutorials and order your own video analysis package where an AVP player critiques your video for you. Check it out!

Problem #3: Not maximizing height and power angles.

Mistake: Not maximizing space for your hitting arm.

Easy Fix: Get to your POH!


I don’t normally like to draw comparisons between indoor and beach volleyball because I try to respect the fact that hoards of players are now taking a direct path to sand. I will, however, use the relationship here. The timing now is excellent because everyone has ample opportunities to watch the highest levels of both sports in the Olympics.

Indoor coaches spend hours and hours of practice teaching their young players to GET OUTSIDE, dig high, rip off the net and transition. There are designed footwork patterns for getting into the best positions from which to start your approach. It would be entirely UNACCEPTABLE for an outside hitter to pass a ball and just approach straight at the net from where they stand.

On the COURT, our goal is to spread our offense and/or run effective combinations so we can try to hit against a single or broken block. We set our outside hitters more often because they hit from the pins, thereby having the best opportunity for good approach angles and will probably have the best chance to take the longest and most powerful approach. They are simply more available.

Foluke Atinuke Akinradewo of USA Volleyball Team

Foluke Atinuke Akinradewo of USA Volleyball Team

Right handed players on the left get outside the court to take advantage of our anatomy. Its easier for a right handed player to get their feet to a ball thats falling to their right side (barring the goofy footers out there). That’s why right side players hug the side line tighter on their approaches. Among other reasons, they are leaving their right arm available.

Watch the video for a taste of our trip to Spain last fall.


Here’s a test to prove the point: Balance on your left leg or your right leg if you are a lefty. From this position, see how for you can leap sideways landing on two feet. Make sure your toes are facing forward and try three times to your right, then three times to your left. You will notice that you can “step-close” more distance to your right. This is the reason right handers stay INSIDE ON THE RIGHT and OUTSIDE ON THE LEFT. We leave more space off our right side so that we can get our feet perfectly to more sets.

Let’s also keep in mind that our strongest hits are, in order, the ones when we hit where we face, our cross body swings and lastly our wrist aways. Given a right handed player, staying tight to the court on the right side and approaching from an angle on the left side gives our bodies the best chance to swing big. Indoor players always get space from the net and set up their offensive angles to be the most effective attackers.

Men's Beach Tank

Click on the picture to get your own Beach Tank! They are perfect to play in!

WHY THEN, do those same disciplined players and coaches come to the sand and disregard all concepts of design, anatomy, power angles and consistency?!

One of the most common mistakes I see every day is a right handed right side going way outside the court to set up their hit. This leaves NEGATIVE SPACE for their right arm. Check out Todd Rogers and see how many times per match he passes and then moves IN to the court. After that, check out Emily Day (left side player) and see how times she moves OUTSIDE after her passes and digs.

This could be a separate post but I want to cover PLAYING FOR KILLS here and now since we are talking about POH; Point Of Hesitation. Essentially this is the spot we choose to start our approach from. After studying the difference between the majority of amateur players and the professionals, its clear that professionals get to a specific position before their setter sets. Amateurs, more often than not, hit from wherever the opposing team puts them.

Serve an amateur middle and they will hit from the middle. Serve them outside, they will approach from the outside. Serve them short and they will have half an approach. Serve them deep and they will end up sprinting through their approach.

The highest caliber of players intentionally design their offense so that it maximizes A) their best swings and B) their best chances to see, contact high and execute a kill. It is important to know what you are good at and to design your offense in a way that maximizes your traits.

As I’ve said before, I coach to the highest level possible. What I mean here is that I ask all of my players to think of the end game; the way it should look and the expectations they should have for themselves when they’ve reached the pinnacle of the game. If you are diving for a dig, I require that you get the ball high enough for a hand set. If you are scrambling and running off the court to set a ball with one arm, I require that you don’t have “Just get it up” in your mind. You should have THIS WILL BE A PERFECT SET coursing through your veins. As my occasional partner, Stafford ‘Fear the Goggles’ Slick, once said, “Don’t just be the second person to touch the ball. BE A SETTER.” Check out the SETTERS in this youtube clip.

When we embrace a mentality that empowers us to create the best possible response regardless of what is thrown our way, our universe opens itself to a new realm of greatness.

That being said, when you dig a ball to the back line, into the net or to the next court, go to a position you can KILL from and call for your set. Don’t follow with. Don’t say “help”. Don’t say “anywhere”. If you know your partner can get more than just their finger tips on the ball, demand that you play for excellence.  Don’t crowd them and hope they can get it up so you end up having to send a free ball. Play for kills. Play for greatness.

You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you set a new standard for yourself.

Models: Emily Day, Todd Rogers.

Bonus: Call specifically for the set you want after every pass and dig.

Spread the love
VolleyCamp Hermosa
Pacific Coast Highway
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Tel: (234) 752-9824
Email: [email protected]