Difference between indoor and beach volleyball

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Taking your volleyball game outside requires more than sunscreen and tough feet

By: Chad Zimmerman

STACK's first cover girl, Misty May-Treanor, found the transition from indoor to beach volleyball difficult. Not because of the different court dimensions, fewer players or the new rules about where on the hand you can hit the ball. Instead, the outdoor elements—the sun, heat, wind and unstable ground—were her toughest challenges.

Here are a few tips from Misty that will make balling on the beach a little easier.

"Setting on the beach is different because you have to use more than your wrist and arm," Misty says. "You have to use more of your body to put enough force on the ball for a proper set. When you move to set on the beach, you have to use your legs because of the wind. You've got to make the ball hang, too. You can't just swing it outside like you would indoors."

"Timing is different from the indoor game," Misty says. "Jumps are different and you can't take the same approach to the ball. The soft sand makes approaches slower and jumps lower. So you have to change the timing of your jump and coordinate the set and the placement to get to the ball in time—two adjustments that turn the game into a completely different animal."

"The easiest way to transition into something is to take a step backward instead of rushing right into it," Misty says. "Get on the sand and do some exercises, then you'll start to get what we call 'sand legs.' Sand legs allow your movements to become natural and effortless on the beach.

"If you just go out there and play, you'll get frustrated," she says. "You see a lot of players quit, because they're at one level indoors, but then they come out to the beach, and the first time they play they don't compete at that same level. They're like, 'Oh, I'm going to suck,' and then just give it up."

Maturity and the ability to recognize when you have to slow down to learn a new skill go a long way toward improving your beach game, according to Misty.

No Pain, No Gain?

Get smart and save your game. Sometimes the simplest advice is the best.

STACK wanted Misty May-Treanor's advice for stars rising through the high school ranks. Her words were much simpler than you'd think: "Listen to your body and don't be afraid to speak up."

"I coach, and so many athletes are scared to say they have an injury or that they're hurting. They don't want to sit out," Misty says. "But you've gotta take one for the team and think about your future with injuries.

"A lot of coaches push their athletes to the limit. And athletes who have starting spots don't want to tell the coach, 'I'm really hurting today' or 'I'm tired.' But the biggest thing is to be honest. Listen to your body, because you don't want to end up broken down later on. That is the worst thing."

Besides listening to your body when it hurts, feed it when it growls.

"I know for young women, weight is a big issue, and lots of girls won't eat because they want to lose weight," Misty says. "But if you don't eat, your body starts breaking down. So as an athlete, find the weight you feel good performing at. For me, it's 155. It moved up through the years. In college, I was 150. But now I feel good at 155."

So when your body is hurting—from an injury or for food—listen to it and do what it says.

AVP Outdoor Official Rules VS. NCAA Indoor Official Rules

Outdoor: Each match will be a best of three rally-scoring sets.
Each match will be a best of five rally-scoring sets.

Outdoor: The first two sets are played to 21 points. The third set is played to 15.
Indoor: The first four sets are played to 30. The fifth set is played to 15.

Outdoor: Sand courts are 16 meters by 8 meters.
Indoor: Indoor courts are 18 meters by 9 meters.

Outdoor: A side change will occur every seven points in the first two sets and every five points in the third set. The side change will be direct without delay.
Indoor: A side change will occur after every game. In the fifth game, a side change occurs after one team gets to eight.

Outdoor: It is illegal to double contact the first ball if the ball is not hard-driven and if " finger action" is used. It is conceivable (but unlikely) that a serve could legally be "set" by the receiving team; however, this contact is judged with the same scrutiny as a normal set.
It is now legal to double-contact any first team contact. To legally double a first ball when using finger action (i.e. setting), you have to be defending a hard-driven attack. That means you are not receiving a serve. It also means you are defending an opponent's attack on a ball that is moving fast enough that the referee can judge that you didn't have time to play the ball any other way.

Outdoor: Setting has to be perpendicular to your body. An exception is made if a teammate accidentally sets a ball over the net.
There are no rules against it, as long as it not a carry or a throw.

Outdoor: Tipping is illegal. Fingers can't be used to tip a ball over the net. Palms, heel of the hand, locked straight fingers, gnarled fingers or the back of the hand can be used to dink the ball over for short shots.
Fingers may be used to tip; hand should be above your head to avoid a carry or throw over the net.

Outdoor and Indoor: Teams must have a two-point advantage to win a set, and no point cap will be used.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock