On 28-29 May, 5 coaching staff, 5 volleyball nets, 30 beach volleyballs, a 49-seater bus and 40 athletes aged 9 – 18 made their way to Portobello Beach each day for the CoE Junior Beach Camp.
As well as being a volleyball coach, I love the Scottish outdoors, mountains, landscapes and seascapes. In any weather coaching volleyball and enjoying the seascapes at the beach are a superb combination. It is not often coaching indoors that you get to see breathtaking sunsets or watch a storm front approaching!
I had coached the Edinburgh U15 boys and girls at the 2015 International Children’s Games beach volleyball competition in Holland. It was interesting to see that for the other European teams competing in the ICG, their junior players did both indoor and beach volleyball and did not specialize until (in most cases) 18 years of age. And so they were well represented at both beach and indoor volleyball. And as a coach who works in both indoor volleyball and beach volleyball disciplines it is easy to see why.
At the beach camp, we split the group over 5 courts, with Scottish beach volleyball legend Barry McGuigan giving the benefit of his considerable expertise and experience to the performance group of junior players, including Jenny Lee, Emma Waldie and Mitchell Brown who will play in the SCD Beach Internationals in Perth this weekend.
I worked with S2 boys and girls. There was just 6 on my court, and with such a high coach-to-player ratio, it is possible to spend time with the players at an individual level and get a lot of contacts, with the same on the S1 court with Juliana Facanha. By day two this attention to detail showed, and it was very rewarding to see them playing real beach volleyball, with nice tight pass-set ball control and some nice tactical hitting.
Meanwhile on the P4-P7 court, this was the first beach volleyball experience for many, although some had been to the SHAPE beach volleyball camps run by Lynne Beattie and Mel Coutts. This was the largest group with 16 young boys and girls. Building sand castles and wading in the sea was interrupted at times for fun games and some serious volleyball practice capably led by Euan Gibson and Zoe Smith. Fun is good but it is better when the athletes learn to be a better player also.
Next up for some of these young beach players will be the Scottish Beach Tour @ Portobello on 18th June, where the athletes in secondary school will play in the U18 boys / girls section. It will be the perfect opportunity to put their new-found skills to the test!
Beach volleyball coach, CoE VC