By: Anna Pruess
It is a widely known fact that sports and other forms of physical activity have a positive effect on both the physical and the mental health of people of all ages, including teenagers. At AIS Vienna, sports teams such as basketball, volleyball, track and field, cross country, baseball, softball, swimming, tennis, and more give students the opportunity to strengthen their athleticism and develop important life skills such as teamwork, communication, self-management, and persistence. If competitive sports are known to be beneficial, why not introduce another sport to the mix? Beach volleyball combines being physically demanding with providing students the benefits of vitamin D from the summer sun and an inclusive, fun-filled community. Why not start a beach volleyball club in the AIS high school?
Beach volleyball is, in some ways, more challenging than indoor volleyball, since it is typically played in pairs rather than 6-person teams and is played on a sand court instead of a wood, PVC, or rubber-coated indoor court, but the pros of beach volleyball far outweigh the cons. Since it is typically played in pairs, the need for proper and effective communication increases, as is the need for seamless teamwork, making the possibility higher that players will develop stronger social skills. Since only two players have the responsibility of covering the entire court, each player must be more independent and willing to take on more responsibility, which are both qualities highly valued in the professional world that AIS strives to prepare its students for.
Physical benefits of beach volleyball include improved coordination, intensified endurance, enhanced muscular tone and strength, and a positive impact on mental health. Because of the dynamic and demanding nature of beach volleyball, it is easy to use the sport as a way to burn fat and calories, making it a fantastic choice for anyone wishing to improve their physical fitness. Research published in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness concluded that playing beach volleyball is effective training for indoor volleyball players. At the end of the experiment, all participants had increased muscular endurance and higher vertical jumps. Since these effects are transferable to a hard, indoor court, beach volleyball is a worthwhile activity for students seeking to engage in physical conditioning during their primary sport’s off-season. American volleyball player and Olympic gold medalist Karch Kiraly has mentioned that training in the sand is a productive way for indoor volleyball players to improve their skills and work harder, a statement that can be applied to any athlete. Rich McLaughlin, a well-known coach in the volleyball world, claims that beach volleyball can improve athletes’ speed, agility, and volleyball-specific skills like passing and setting. The fast pace of the game also builds excitement and tension quickly, making it an enjoyable activity for anyone who enjoys exhilarating and lively action.
Aside from an overwhelming amount of physical benefits and chances for development of social skills, getting involved in the beach volleyball community would also give AIS students a chance to enjoy themselves and immerse themselves in a diverse, worldwide community of beach volleyball players. The culture of beach volleyball is closely connected to American surfer culture, with its iconic laid-back and fun-seeking attitude and atmosphere. In a stressful world that is constantly changing and placing teenagers under pressure, be it academic, societal, or other, a chance to escape and focus on having fun is necessary for the mental and emotional wellbeing of today’s teenagers. Studying at an international school in a European country places AIS students in a unique situation, especially now, when COVID-19 regulations imposed by the government add an extra degree of stress and instability to the lives of students who are already under pressure to perform well academically. Joining a beach volleyball club and adopting a beach volleyball player’s attitude would help students look at their things from a new perspective and develop a more positive outlook on life in general. Entering tournaments over the summer would also give them the opportunity to meet and engage with other beach volleyball players in the same age group as them, allowing them to immerse themselves more fully in the strong international beach volleyball culture.
Despite all these benefits and positive effects beach volleyball can have on high school students at AIS, there remains one huge obstacle: there is no beach volleyball court on AIS campus. The closest courts are at Sportzentrum Marswiese, approximately 24 minutes away from AIS by foot and even faster on bike or by car, and normally cost 30 Euros for two hours. Forming a club based off-campus might be difficult, but if enough dedicated students join and the adults in charge of the school clearly see the benefits of beach volleyball for the school community, there will surely be a way to overcome this obstacle. Finances and distance have never stopped AIS before, when acting in the interest of its community, so now is no time to stop.
To conclude, the institution of a beach volleyball club at AIS Vienna would have innumerable positive effects on the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of participating students, as well as inspiring and empowering the students around them to become more active in sports. As a method of stress relief that also strengthens the players’ bodies, the benefits of beach volleyball cannot be overlooked and are something that pressured and stressed high school students need. Starting a beach volleyball club in the AIS high school is the best way to introduce this opportunity to the student body and allow the entire AIS community to observe firsthand the impact these students’ involvement can have. Summer is rapidly approaching, and the glimmering rays of the sun poke through the clouds more and more every day. Beach volleyball season is coming up faster than we might realize, so the time to act is now. Now is the time to invite high school students onto the sand courts and watch as they lead AIS into a new era of sports, led by fiery passion that matches the burning sun of summer.
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Oakville Volleyball Research Staff. “Why Indoor Volleyball Players Should Train in the Sand.” Oakville Volleyball, 24 June 2020, https://www.oakvillevolleyball.com/indoor-volleyball-players-train-sand/#:~:text=A%20lot%20of%20volleyball%20players,things%20on%20the%20court%20later.
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