I feel like a lot of kids are missing a great opportunity with the growth of beach volleyball as a collegiate sport. So many of the young Florida volleyball players are continuing to play and pay indoor travel clubs with the hope of being able to play in college. These directors and coaches know most times by the ninth grade which kids can play indoor in college. However, they continue to keep the kids sometimes on their second or third level club teams and fuel their hopes with a false narrative.
Why not encourage these kids early on to give the beach game a chance? Well the answer is money, of course. But let’s talk about the opportunities for collegiate beach volleyball. In Florida, we currently have 14 universities with beach programs, with more on the way. Taking out the four top 20 programs, that leaves 10 other programs just here in Florida that many times must poach players from their indoor rosters. Wouldn’t they prefer a player that has 3 or 4 years of beach training rather than a primary indoor player from that roster? You bet they would!
Just in the past two weeks, I have had three separate calls from coaches looking for players in 2019 and 2020 graduation years. These coaches are not looking for elite players, as those have already committed, most often by the 10th grade. These coaches are looking for beach players with decent grades and a desire to come train, play and compete. They’re looking for players that have experience with the beach game, and know the tempo, strategy and nuances of the game.
Over the years, I have seen many good junior players continue to play the indoor game well, but still struggle to find a college program that will recruit them. They are solid indoor players, however, solid indoor players are in every gym every night in every town in all 50 states. The supply far exceeds the demand. If only their clubs, coaches, or even parents would have pushed them to beach, maybe those players could have realized their dreams to play high-level volleyball in college.
California has always been ahead of the curve in volleyball, and has seen a huge growth in beach volleyball clubs since 2015. Their junior players are making the transition from indoor to beach volleyball at younger ages, and the kids are reaping the benefits with the amazing opportunities to play at the next level. Many of their bigger beach clubs are having close to 100% of their seniors signing Letters of Intent for beach volleyball programs on National Signing Day. Not all of them are getting athletic money, but they’re getting the opportunity to compete at a college level that most would not have achieved with indoor programs.
To sum it up, the growth of the collegiate beach game is booming, and now is the right time to make the switch to train and play beach. See you in the sand!!!