Spoke with newly-named UCLA Beach Volleyball Head Coach Stein Metzger about this fastest-growing sport.
Should kids give up indoor and focus on beach to be recruited?
Kids should focus on their passions. If they've tried beach volleyball and love it, then I would say "go for it." Most kids will know after their first couple of tournaments whether they love it or hate it. The game will expose weaknesses in short order, but it takes a certain mind set to battle and become a beach champion. You get a lot more touches on the ball than indoor. There are no subs in beach volleyball. You've got to be resilient.
When do you start recruiting beach players?
Usually when they're sophomores in high school. Fortunately for UCLA, we have dozens of talented players in our backyard. But we have signed Megan and Nicole McNamara from Canada because they are a perfect fit for UCLA Beach Volleyball.
What are you looking for? There are lots of polished 5'7 to 5'9 defensive specialists. What I need is tall, jumping blockers who are agile. I recruited CEVA's Payton Rund. She's a perfect example of the player I like. Great skill set with huge presence at the net.
Should kids focus on bump setting or hand setting?
I think since KerrI Walsh and Misty May were such wonderful bump setters, our American players have followed suit, concentrating on bump setting, not wanting to risk a hand set bad call. But the rest of the world is comfortable hand setting, so American players are working in more hand sets.
Is beach volleyball easier on the body?
I would say yes, especially on soft sand. I rarely see the kind of acute injuries suffered indoors. At UCLA we examined dozens of sand samples and found the round granule sand the best bet for our courts. Coarse, angular granules are very scratchy and not much fun to play on.
Where will I get seen by collegiate beach volleyball coaches?
Players should play in HP Beach Championships, USA Junior Beach Tour and work in other events, like California Beach Volleyball Association, AAU Beach events and Get Noticed.
Is there scholarship money in beach volleyball?
Yes, each funded school is working up to 6 scholarships. Each program may have a different allotment of scholarships from none to 6, be sure to ask the coach how many scholarships they have. We are able to partial out those scholarships in order to grow our program. Beach volleyball has been added as the 23rd Pac-12-sponsored sport beginning in the 2015-16 academic year. We hope to host a Pac-12 conference championship event in 2016.
Canada's McNamara Twins signed with UCLA Sand Volleyball. Photo courtesy of UCLA Athletics.