Keeping Up with Amanda Dowdy

We are very excited to follow one of Texas Volleyball Tour’s elite athletes, Amanda Dowdy, as she prepares for the 2014 AVP Tour and USA Beach National Team.  She is currently out in Chula Vista at the Olympic Training Center for the U26 Beach National Team tryouts.  Good luck Amanda! We are all rooting for you here at home!   

Hey y’all!
It’s been an eventful first couple days out here in Chula Vista. After getting settled in yesterday we went to our first training and did some physical testing and then played Queen of the Beach for the last hour of practice. Allowing us get all the jet lag out of our systems and get acquainted with each other was the perfect start to camp.
I was pleasantly surprised with my testing results. It was very motivating to see good results come from all the hard work I have been putting in these last few months.  Happy, happy, happy!
Today was our first full day of training. This morning was difficult to get my body going after traveling all day yesterday, but no excuses. I will definitely make a routine of getting out of bed early enough to get some work done..planks, stretching, rolling (your welcome, Tim) to get my body aka my knees moving before our 3 hour practices.
We focused on a lot of skill work in the morning session. It was a slower pace practice but still very beneficial. We had to work with different athletes and figure out how to be productive as a group when we have never played together prior to this camp. It was a lot of fine tuning on the different skills of the game such as setting, various types of serving, pulling, etc. You think you are solid at all these skills until they break it down…it never fails you always have some weakness, always room for improvement.  This evening’s session was a lot of fun. We started out with some drills then got to play the rest of the time. I will have to say I made some break throughs on a few things that I have been working on. It all just clicked by the end of it. One step at a time.
I have really enjoyed the coaches here. Each one brings a different aspect to the game. I consider it a great opportunity to continue to learn and grow your game with some top level coaches critiquing you and giving you feedback. Better believe I’m taking notes!
I am enjoying each day and taking it all in. I want to learn as much as possible while I’m here and start applying it to my future training. You never stop learning no matter what level you are at, there is always something new you either didn’t know or you can learn a little differently. I try to keep an open mind and be comfortable with being outside my comfort zone. Easier said than done but it’s a goal I try to keep in mind.
A few notes on training today…
  • keep the game small – with your passing & setting – higher the ball, more room for error
  • play your strengths
  • attack at your peak (be patient, wait for the set)- seems obvious but a light bulb went off for me today. When I attack the ball at my peak my shots are much cleaner and I can reach well over the block. Makes my life much easier!
That’s all for today!
Amanda
Read more about Amanda on her blog at: http://amandadowdy.wordpress.com/ and keep up with her on Instagram: http://instagram.com/adowdy11.

Managing Momentum

Well, the first week in Cali was just as hard as I expected.  Deep sand, chilly weather, tough competitors, and high winds were just a few variables I had to adjust to.  But, the good news is that it’s over and we ended with a tournament victory at Ocean Park in Santa Monica on Sunday.

With minimal training as a team, Geena and I went out with a couple of focuses: minimizing errors, playing a “small game” (keeping everything close to each other and not spread over the court), and having good technique.  We also made communication a top priority and saw significant improvement after struggled with it big time in the first game.

After a few games we re-organized our focuses a little to reflect what we thought was necessary for the rest of the day: “dig to kill” (as opposed to our “dig to hitting error”), tougher serving using angles and the wind, and playing our game as opposed to being responsive to the other side.

With good communication we realized that we both preferred the right side but were comfortable enough to play on the left. Our decision was simple: If teams got 2 real points in a row, we would switch.

While we played well most of the day, beach volleyball is always going to be a game of momentum—which can shift in the blink of an eye, especially with rally scoring.  The versatility and mental awareness of the momentum that Geena and I had as a team were two key elements in our tournament victory.

Keeping to the plan, we switched sides as soon as a team would earn 2 real points in a row.  So many times the switch led to an easier ball to the person getting served or a service error for a point.  With long games to 28 we were given 2 timeouts per game.  Time out management was another tool we used well in shifting momentum back to us.  If we were up by several points and let the other team back into the game, we would call a time out before we lost the lead.   After a minute of regrouping we often would open the lead back up.

Most players will have a dominant side they prefer playing on.  But, having the ability to be “comfortable” on the other side is a great quality, not only in finding partners but to change the flow of a game.  The versatility it adds to a team can be a huge addition.  Another skill, while more mental than physical, that is arguably more crucial, is the ability to identify momentum and how to swing it back to your side.  Keeping track of runs and how they were earned is a tough task but is so helpful in making decisions relating to switching sides, calling time outs, taking extra time to dust off, fix the lines, etc.  Beach volleyball is a game of momentum, and if you can manage it, you will likely be one step ahead of your competitors.