As the number of colleges announcing new sand volleyball programs continues to grow so does the need to staff sand volleyball rosters. With new programs relying heavily on their indoor rosters, and even many existing programs building teams with combined indoor and sand players, the presence of indoor volleyball athletes in sand volleyball programs is significant.
While the benefits of playing sand volleyball, in terms of cognitive and skill development, are much talked about, new research suggests that sand volleyball training also leads to favorable physical adaptations in participating indoor players. The findings may be persuasive for players and coaches considering the benefits of the sand volleyball season.
To investigate the effects of beach volleyball training and competition on the physiological adaptations of indoor players, researchers at Aristotle University in Greece conducted tests on male indoor volleyball players before they began and after they completed 12 weeks of beach volleyball training and competition.
Training was not manipulated for the study but followed the athletes' or their coaches' own training routine. Training routines consisted of weekend tournaments plus 2.0-2.5 hour sessions of beach-specific drills, exercises and scrimmages, 4-6 times per week. Test variables included heart rate (HR), running economy (RE) and VO2max. Height, body mass and body fat percentage were also recorded before training.
The results of the study were published in the Journal of Physical Education and Sport.
Following 12 weeks of training and competition, post tests revealed a significant reduction in HR, improvement of RE, increase in VO2max and a significant reduction in both body mass and fat among the players. According to the authors, this is the first study of its kind and could be read as an extension of previous research concluding that the energy cost of performing in sand is greater than on firm surfaces.
While sports science will continue to build on these first-of-a-kind results, college volleyball coaches and athletes may find them relevant in determining the benefits to indoor players of competing in the sand volleyball season.
 Running economy is defined as "the energy demand for a given velocity of submaximal running."
 VO2max is defined as the maximum volume of oxygen that can be used in 60 seconds during maximum exercise.
 Dimitrios, B., Efstratios, V., Kosmas, C., Panagiotis, S., Dimosthenis, P., Papaevangelou, E. (2013), The effect of beach volleyball training on running economy and VO2max of indoor volleyball players. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 13(1), 33-38.