Can a player make their high school team if they play beach instead of indoor club volleyball?
The junior volleyball landscape has changed drastically since the NCAA introduced beach volleyball as an emerging sport in 2010. Young players now are finding that they love beach as much or more than indoor. That poses the question, "Can a player make their high school team if they play beach instead of indoor club volleyball?"
The simple answer is yes. We know this is true because we had three players from the Uprising Volleyball Beach Mastery Program skip indoor club last year and make their high school varsity teams this fall. Only one of these players had previously made varsity, the other two made the jump from JV to Varsity.
Every school and every situation is different, so this cannot be a definitive answer for every situation. What we know is that the development of the core volleyball skills of serving, passing, setting, hitting and reading are developed in the beach doubles game as quickly or more quickly than they are in the 6v6 indoor game. Development of these skills combined with use of programs offered by the high school such as Summer camps, open gyms and Summer league have shown the ability to develop athletes to the varsity level.
Having a beach volleyball focus can benefit athletes in competitive situations that often times indoor volleyball cannot. There is no bench on the beach. Athletes play every point of every match in every tournament that they register in during their beach season. Athletes must execute all of the volleyball skills through the course of a volleyball match because they will touch every other ball. This will create versatile players that have as much or more experience in competitive situations than even the indoor club players who are standouts and start every match.
Coaches have also found that beach focused athletes approach their high school season with a bit more enthusiasm than players who play nine months of indoor club a year. For beach players the indoor high school season is a chance to experience the fun of indoor volleyball and represent their school. It is a break from the focus of their beach "grind" and there is no comparison between their indoor club teams and their high school team.
Bottom line is that if an athlete can pass, set, hit, serve and read the game at a high level on the beach, they will be able to translate those skills to the hard court for their high school team utilizing the training opportunities and programs offered by their high school. In most situations, high level beach volleyball athletes will be able to make and even excel on their high school volleyball teams.