Mental aspects of the game

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An amazing teamwork!

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WINNER AND A LOSER

Teams are becoming more and more competitive in Beach Volleyball as their technical abilities are being trained on a daily basis. In this section, we will highlight the importance of the athlete`s mental stability to win a match.

Imagine, a 3rd set and a result of 13:13:

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THE HEAD (OR BETTER WHAT‘S GOING ON IN A PLAYER‘S MIND) MAKES THE DIFFERENCE!!!

WHY IS BEACH VOLLEYBALL SUCH A MENTAL GAME?

There are several aspects that influence a Beach Volleyball game, a Beach Volleyball team and a Beach Volleyball athlete.

TWO INDIVIDUALS PLAY AS A TEAM

  • Usually the two team members travel together the whole year;
  • They spend together a lot of time, more time than with their families – the same plane, same hotel, and same hotel room.

ONLY ONE TEAMMATE TO BLAME

So when the results are not as expected, the only person that can be blamed is the team member. Despite that the communication must continues if the team continues to compete. Issues have to be resolved immediately.

NO COACHING IN BEACH VOLLEYBALL

  • During the game the players are their own coaches as there is no help from the outside
  • Players do not have to only control their own game as they also have to keep an eye on the opponents’ tactical changes in game scouting.

NO HIDING AND NO SUBSTITUTES IN BEACH VOLLEYBALL

Sometimes the best player wins the game, but most of the time the weakest player looses the game. It is always the “do or die” attitude, because if you don‘t side out, you will get the ball again, as there is:

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THE OPPONENT TEAM

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It is very difficult at a Beach Volleyball match, as with the opponent team there is no physical contact, but a lot of psychological contact.

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Athlete concentrated on the opponent's serve

Newcomers observing their next opponents

Somtimes opponents seem bigger and taller than they actually are...

THE COURT

Another consideration that has to be made is the playing area – the court. There are only two players on each side of the court providing a lot of opportunities and zones free to score points. Team members have the pressure to cover the entire side of the court.

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CONCENTRATION/ STAMINA

A mistake would be to think that the most spectacular play decides the game. On the top level one error might make the difference in the result of a set or a match.

GOOD TO KNOW

After the Beach Volleyball Commission`s decision to stricter enforce the rules in 2011 FIVB World Tour season, to shorten the game and avoid unnecessary delays, the following results have been recorded:

Men Main Draw match / 3 sets:

Tournament

Average duration

2010 Brasilia

58 min 20 sec

2011 Brasilia

53 min 50 sec

2011 The Hague

49 min 50 sec

Women Main Draw match / 3 sets:

Tournament

Average duration

2010 Brasilia

56 min 05 sec

2011 Brasilia

50 min 45 sec

2011 The Hague

48 min 05 sec

The level of concentration has to be very high during the entire game, and in addition there are several games/ matches per day, as a tournament has several games per day. Usually three matches per day per team. This pressure requires an efficient resource management.

EMOTIONS

Beach Volleyball is a very emotional game. And after a spectacular play or after a mistake there are only 12 seconds to calm down and concentrate for the next rally. In this moment rituals are important and help one concentrate on the routine and what needs to be done.

In 2010 and beyond a study conducted by the FIVB showed that athletes try to use every possibility to delay matches, usually through Medical Timeouts (MTO), to rest or collect themselves after an emotional play. In 2010 Beach Volleyball Commission decided to stricter enforce the rules applied (for example, the 12 seconds rule) and to allow only 2 Medical Timeouts per athlete per 12 months period (unless traumatic injury occurs during the match) and sanction any other requests for a Medical Timeout as of 2011. With the strict application of the rule, athletes have to train from the very young age the endurance throughout the entire match.

PERCEPTION

Perception is a key aspect in Beach Volleyball. Under the stress of a match, stress perception is the first to disappear. The view gets narrow and the perception of what is happening around the player changes dramatically: partner and referee.

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

Beach Volleyball is a very technical and a very fast game: each play has to be very precise and in a short time span. There are also tight rules in ball handling: setting and defending.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL IS AN OUTDOOR SPORT

As for an outdoor sport, there are several aspects depending on the weather conditions at each and every competition. Athletes have to adapt.

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Athlete consulting with a referee during a match

REFEREES

The relation with referees also impacts Beach Volleyball athlete`s mental stableness during the game. Judging the rules may be slightly different due to a perception of the referee. Especially the judgment of the handset is not easy, as it changes from tournament to tournament, from referee to referee or even during a set.

THE BEACH VOLLEYBALL SEASON

A Beach Volleyball season (here referring to the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour season usually from April to November) might be a very difficult experience for an athlete. As the tournaments are scheduled back to back, the travel is continuous, and requires athletes / teams staying away from home for long periods of time. The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event`s schedule requires teams starting to play mostly on Tuesday with the Qualification tournament until Sunday, leaving a couple of days for the travel to the next tournament.

Sometimes pressure might arise, if a team is out already on Tuesday and the team has to wait until Sunday to continue travelling to the next tournament. This “layover” then requires finding practice courts, weightlifting rooms to keep fit and to keep up the training until the next tournament, when in the meantime the team witnesses the other fellow athletes/ teams play, win, make points and money.

THE TOURNAMENT SYSTEM →  LEARN TO LOOSE WITH NO MAJOR CONSEQUENCES

The current situation in the Beach Volleyball event scene evidently proves that there are a large number of teams that would like to enter the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour events. Team participation at the World Tour events is decided by the FIVB entry points. Furthermore, the country quota of the competition does allows entry of maximum seven teams from the same country given sufficient FIVB entry points. Should the maximum number of teams of one country be entered in the competition, the respective teams are required to play a Country Quota Play off to determine whether the team will have a chance to take part to the qualification tournament of the competition. Therefore, “to get in” is not easy. Over the last years the Continental Confederations are given the chance to organize continental tournaments with the allocation of the FIVB ranking points (if homologated by the FIVB).

Before getting the status of a main draw team in very competitive events, athletes must learn to minimize the impact of lost matches and/or the negative consequences of being eliminated from an event. It is very important for such teams to identify the areas of improvements and train hard to be competitive. The capacity of a team to turn the frustration of a negative result into a positive energy may determine the difference between a winner and a loser pair.

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DISSAPOINTMENT

FRUSTRATION

PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS IN BEACH VOLLEYBALL

To train the required psychological skills in Beach Volleyball, first you need to distinguish the three categories: Basic and Advanced skills, as well as Crisis intervention, which each have metal requirements to facilitate the three skills categories.

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AN EXAMPLE OF THE GERMAN VOLLEYBALL FEDERATION

What the German Volleyball Federation tries to do is to define three levels of athletes per their age, where each age group benefits from an applied program.

The Three step program caters for the following age groups:

  • under 18/19
  • under 20/21
  • under 23

Within the program, the following people work with the players:

  • For the basic skills: a coach
  • For the advanced skills: a mental coach

PROGRAM FOR UNDER 18/19

As for the first step in athlete training for the age group under 18/19 the following skills are being trained:

BASIC SKILLS
  • Team building: rules
  • Learn to regulate the activation (activation & basic relaxation)
ADVANCED SKILLS
  • deal with pressure
  • learn to set goals

PROGRAM FOR UNDER 20/21

Moving on to the next step for the age group of under 20/21, the following skills are being trained:

BASIC SKILLS
  • Rituals during a game
  • Team building: communication
ADVANCED SKILLS
  • Believe in abilities and your own skills
  • Self-motivation
  • Dealing with fear

The final step for the age group of under 23

Follows the basis covered in the first two steps and focuses on the following skills:

BASIC SKILLS
  • Mental recovery training
ADVANCED SKILLS
  • Advanced relaxation (Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) & anchoring)
  • Mental coaching = self coaching
  • Visualization
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