Playing beach volleyball chess with Angela Rock
“Beach volleyball is like a chess game.” It’s a statement that resonates. A chess game requires explanations. It requires tactics and strategy. And that is when Angela Rock comes into play.
Angela Rock is a highly decorated volleyball and beach volleyball player. She participated in the Olympics as a player and coach, won a bronze medal at the 1987 Pan American Games and 27 AVP/WPVA beach volleyball titles. She was voted best hitter on the tour in 1991. And she is a beach volleyball mastermind which is not only revealed in our interview but also in the book she just published. It is about all the stuff she hasn’t talked about when competing. It is about the little secrets, strategies and epiphanies that should have been shared before but have not. It is not a story or drill book, those do already exist. It is about content that the beach volleyball community lacks: sophisticated, advanced and informative for professional and collegiate teams. It brings together her experience on the court and on the sideline.
Transitioning from indoor to beach – work ethic and toughness required
Having been a professional in indoor and beach volleyball, she has some valuable insights for players in transition. In the beginning, Angela had a hard time succeeding in beach volleyball. But she enjoyed doing the work and rising to the top.
“Not all good indoor players will be good on the beach. It’s a different animal. You have to have a certain work ethic. You have to be intrinsically motivated. It is hard work and it is a different kind of work, it not the shared work of the six. Beach volleyball is challenging to every aspect of the game, your weaknesses are laid out.”
In beach volleyball there are no substitutions, you might be served every ball. In this respect beach volleyball is tough and requires toughness. Getting started at the beach with a beginner’s mindset as Tri Bourne recommended, seems to be a good analogy.
It’s about psychology, especially at the competitive level
Angela has a degree in psychology and thus she knows about the importance of the mental aspects of beach volleyball. You have to understand the psychology of your opponent and know what to do to be one step ahead. Of course, it is important to be physically competent and to have the technique. Only being smart is not enough. At a lower level, psychology might make up to less than 20%, but especially at more competitive levels, the significance and proportion of the mental aspect increases.
Current landscape – great talent, no sponsors
Regarding the current landscape, Angela thinks it is quite challenging for current players to play professionally.
“It becomes harder to get sponsorships, there are more competitions for the same amount of advertising dollars. I worry that the top athletes now won’t be able to uphold it.”
Angela is convinced that there is great talent out there, but in order to enable players to keep going, some changes need to occur.
“Talent is 10x deeper than when I played. But we need a tour that can sustain people. And I would like to see a stronger movement from the collegiate to the tour.”
If you want to get deeper into beach volleyball chess, check out Angela’s Facebook page and her recent book “Advanced Beach Volleyball Tactics”.
- Nationality: USA
- Date of Birth: October 15, 1963
- Height: 1.75m /5’8″
- 1993, AVP Tour Champion
- 27 AVP/WPVA titles
- Almeria, 1992, Beach Exhibition Olympics, Silver
Amazing article! Never considered how much strategy and planning went into the sport of beach volleyball. Gotta step up my practice now!
Yes, the more you dive into it, the more strategic details you will discover…
Great post! For any sport strategy and persistence is required. Only the strong survive 🙂
You name it!
I think she is dead on with psychology of the game. There are many players in any sport that have the physique and abilities, but can be defeated by an opponent that may be physically weaker but have a better mentality and understanding of the game. They will be able to analyze their opponent and find weaknesses or patterns in their game that they can use to their advantage. It’s not all brawn which makes beach volleyball and other sports to entertaining.
I totally agree. And since it is only two players in a team (vs. six in indoor volleyball), if one player has a mental problem, that has a huge impact.