Last weekend I had the opportunity to train with a pro beach volleyball player. It was a fun experience and I learned a lot!
As most of you will know, I’m not built for volleyball at all – but I’ve been playing it for years and really love it. My college girlfriend was a volleyball player and got me into the sport. Tall and lithe, she played with a grace that was the antithesis to my brute force, “muscle through it” approach to most things in life. We didn’t play together much but it was enough to get me hooked.
Throughout my time in Houston I played with several different coed partners but I lucked out in that my favorite wingman turned out to be a terrific men’s partner. He had been playing much longer and taught me most of what I know about VB – although much of it was biased by his indoor background. We did pretty well together, placing in a few A tourneys in Houston and Galveston. Because he is also an international traveler, he and I have played together in five different countries.
Katie is also into beach volleyball so now she and I play together whenever we can. We’e been very pleased with the thriving beach scene in the Research Triangle. There are dozens of sand courts scattered throughout the area and multiple opportunities to play at different levels every day of the week.
While I was enjoying playing and improving last year, I tore the labrum in my right shoulder, making it painful to hit, serve, or dive on the right side. My mechanics are terrible between my poor range of motion / flexibility and the very indoor-y style of VB (big approaches, big windmill swings) I had been taught, both of which contributed, I’m sure, to my labral tear.
Fortunately my injury did not require surgery and I have been recovering through physical therapy and mobility work. After a layoff from volleyball, I’m back at it now and trying to work on playing smarter rather than harder: being in the right position rather than diving for a spectacular dig, hitting mechanics that save my shoulder rather than swinging away, etc. I just turned 37 and I’m sure that this will become even more important as I get older.