The top seven reasons you (and your kids) should play beach volleyball.

We know we live in landlocked Utah. The closest thing to a sandy beach is next to the chilly Great Salt Lake, or stretched out for miles in the sand dunes of Eureka. But guess what? One of the most popular summer team sports in the state happens to be beach volleyball. Salt Lake City is home to one of the best facilities in the Mountain West—Wasatch Beach Volleyball, with both indoor and outdoor courts located at The Sports Mall in Murray. AVP Next, one of the biggest volleyball developmental programs in the United States, has a stake in Utah (one of only three in the Mountain West zone), which signs people up for competitions and competitive play.
So what is it about the sport that makes it popular in an area without a suitable beach? We put together a list of seven reasons why you should throw on some spandex, lather up the sunblock and give the sport a try. For this list, we consulted Mike Manczuk of Wasatch Beach Volleyball and Warren Van Schalkwyk of Club GSL to offer their insights on what makes this a must-play sport during the summer—especially here in Utah.

1. Fun in the Sun
While the argument can be made that most sports are meant to be played outside, this is one of the few where layered clothing and hats can be a detriment. This is a game meant to be played in the bright sun with minimal layers, helping you soak up that Vitamin D and get a natural tan that didn’t cost you anything but some exercise. Of course, we do advise you take the proper precautions and add the right amount of sunblock, sunscreen, and after-sun aloe lotion for your time out in the heat. And don’t forget to keep water on hand so you don’t become dehydrated.
For more information, contact:
Wasatch Beach Volleyball
The Sports Mall
5445 S. 900 East, Murray
Wasatch Beach is home to six courts that host weekly volleyball leagues, weekend tournaments, and individual and group instruction.

2. Boosting Your Stats
Studies conducted on players before and after their games show that beach volleyball heightens certain attributes in the human body. “Playing in the sand will help you increase vertical, speed and agility, and the overall ability to perform better in any sport,” says Manczuk.
In essence, whatever your primary sport is, playing a few rounds of volleyball each month is believed to help improve skill sets in other sports. It’s like giving a frequently used muscle a new workout to build its strength.

3. Scholarship Opportunities
High school athletes are always on the lookout for university scholarships. And it can be especially daunting if they’re seeking opportunities in the four most popular sports programs: football, basketball, soccer and baseball. But that’s primarily on the men’s side. For women, volleyball is one of the most sought-after scholarship programs around, with basketball, gymnastics and tennis not far behind. According to Manczuk, “Sand volleyball is exploding in the U.S., as college programs are now offering scholarships to young women, with PAC 12 programs also now recruiting for the sport.” Sure, like all sports, volleyball is competitive, but the schedule and demands are less hectic than other programs, making it ideal for athletic women who truly want an education while they play their sport.

4. Outdoor Advantage
Players who choose to compete on outdoor sandy courts appear to have a slight advantage over those who play on indoor courts. According to Manczuk and Van Schalkwyk, this is primarily because indoor players are relying on the stable ground to be a constant whereas outdoor players have to adapt to changing conditions in the sand as they compete. The experience often gives those playing outdoors more dexterity, a point not lost on the indoor players. If indoor players play outside, they’ll learn the “secrets of the sand.” Anything to gain an advantage over your opponent, right?

5. Improved Reaction Time
Every sport relies on a game plan to build a winning formula. Much like basketball, volleyball relies on the ability to read your opponents and be able to work with teammates to score points and prevent opponents from scoring. The slight difference between basketball and volleyball is that basketball is more reactionary while volleyball is precautionary. Rather than chasing down your opponent 1-on-1 and reacting to his or her actions with team support, volleyball’s 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 play forces players to read multiple opponents at the same time, watching their strategies and adjusting how to react. This kind of play improves reaction time and the ability to read players, ultimately helping predict what will happen in the game.

6. Joint Benefit
If you think volleyball is a young person’s sport, you’re dead wrong. Oftentimes on local courts, you’ll find players of multiple ages mixing it up with those 10 to 30 years younger than themselves. “Playing in sand is better for your body and helps to strengthen your joints,” according to Manczuk. “[It helps to] not break them down as in hard-surface sports. Many top beach pros play professionally into their 40s and recreationally into their 50s and 60s.”

7. Fun for All
One of the primary selling points for a Utah sport is that it’s something everyone can learn to play easily, and therefore, can become one of the ultimate family get-together sports. Whether it be the entire family at a barbecue passing the time before the cookout,or just something to do as a group at the park, beach volleyball is an activity that most anyone can join in on or watch for fun. “It’s the best way to spend a day with the family in the summer,” said Van Schalkwyk. “The kids are getting a workout, learning new skills, and Mom and Dad are sitting in the shade with their coolers. And after the game, go jump in the pool to cool down.”