• Coach E

Beach volleyball anyone?

Hey everyone, I hope you are all doing ok during these tough times. It seems an age since we have been able to go to the beach and I know a lot of you are missing feeling the sand between your toes and sun on your face, so I thought I would bring the beach to you! Today I am talking with the Scottish beach volleyball team. Personally, it’s not a sport I know a lot about so thought it would be interesting to find out more about the sport, what it takes to compete and how to get involved. Let’s see what they had to say.

So can you tell my readers who you are and what you do?

We are two young Scottish beach volleyball athletes; Rachel Morrison and Katie Barbour. We started playing together in June 2020 after we discovered we share the same passion for the sport and desire to succeed within it. We have always been good friends as we played indoor volleyball as juniors together and have worked our way up into the Senior Women’s National Team, however becoming beach partners has made us extremely close. We are both very competitive, however we have a lot of fun training and playing together and always make it our goal to keep smiling!

Martyn Johnstone is our coach, who has previously coached at The Commonwealth Games in 2018 at the Gold Coast, he shares the same drive and commitment to the sport and we are extremely lucky he wants to be a part of our journey.

Katie (@katiebarbour_) - I’m the blonder one of the team, 25 years old, I’m 5’9” and live in the West of Scotland by the coast in a small town called Troon. I’m a qualified Physiotherapist currently working in the NHS in Orthopaedics after being redeployed last March due to Covid-19. I have around 30 caps for the Scotland Women’s Indoor National Team and around 11 caps for the beach National Team.

Rachel (@rachelmorris0n) - I’m the baby of the team, 22 years old and I’m 5’9” (and a half) so also the slightly taller one. I’m currently studying Sports Science at The University of Edinburgh and live there during semester time, but my family home is back in Ayr on the West Coast. I have played both indoor and beach for Scotland and been able to travel to some lovely parts of the world as a result which is a definite bonus!

Have you two always had a passion for sport and exercise?

Katie- from a young age I’ve always been very fit and active, my parents were both very talented hockey players so I’ve been brought up around sport. I was one of the kids in school that would play every sport thrown at them and would happily do P.E for every lesson of the day if I could.

Rachel- Yeah definitely, both of my parents were P.E teachers so I grew up around sport and as a child I went to a different sports club every day after school, think I pretty much tried it all! There was constantly some sort of different sport on the TV in our house so I had pretty much no choice but to like it but yeah I definitely have always had a love for sport.

How did you first get involved with beach volleyball?

If you play indoor volleyball the season finishes around April time or May/June if you play internationally, so after that ends the only volleyball you can play is beach volleyball. Most indoor volleyball players play beach volleyball in the summer on the Scottish Beach Volleyball Tour. However, we both only began competing competitively in 2019.

How does beach volleyball differ from the volleyball we get taught at school?

For beach volleyball is 2v2 compared to indoor where it’s 6v6, so on the beach there are less bodies however still a large area to cover and defend. The beach volleyball court measures 16X8M whereas indoor volleyball is 18X9M. Players on the beach can attack from anywhere on the court, however with indoor the backcourt players must attack from behind the 3M line. The beach volleyball scoring system is ‘best of 3 sets’ to 21 and indoor volleyball is ‘best of 5 sets’ and 25 points to win the set.

For beach volleyball you play in a variety of weather conditions; rain & wind (in Scotland) or sunshine, whereas for indoor volleyball these factors don’t affect the game. The beach volleyball is actually lighter and softer compared to the indoor volleyball, so a good player can use windy conditions to their advantage.

There are lots of other rules but we don’t want to bore you!

How often do you compete?

For beach volleyball around the world there are no ‘leagues’ except for US colleges. However from around April time, most competitions are up and running! Things are a little different this year, in normal circumstances we’d hopefully be competing at least 2-3 times per month and if we aren’t competing, we’ll be training either in Edinburgh or Troon or perhaps abroad in the sun.

In Summer 2020 we managed to luckily squeeze in 3 competitions in London and 5 competitions in Edinburgh before lockdown happened...again!

What does your weekly training look like?

Ideally we aim for 3 gym sessions a week training upper and lower with weights and then a plyometric gym session too to keep our legs bouncy! On the beach we’ll aim for 1-2 sand conditioning sessions which will help with speed and moving in the sand. In terms of specific volleyball practice we’d aim as many as we can however with the current guidelines we aren’t allowed to train together yet, hopefully this changes soon!

As we aren’t full time athletes, we both have jobs/university commitments so cannot train like full time athletes, even though we’d love to be!

What impact has COVID19 had on your sport and your training?

Due to Covid-19 and like most other sports, it has affected us massively and we are gutted to have missed out on so much (just like everyone else)! We were only allowed to return to training in June 2020, this then stopping again in December due to cold weather and shorter evenings alongside another complete lockdown in Scotland.

However, we have still been managing to keep active & fit just not with each other as we live approx 1.5 hours from one another and currently are not allowed to travel to train. Fingers crossed this changes soon enough as we are missing it a lot!

Volleyball is a very explosive sport on an indoor court, does playing on sand make that more difficult?

Yes so both beach and indoor volleyball requires a lot of explosive power - the sand makes it a lot harder to jump! For indoor volleyball you are jumping on a hard, solid surface however sand is the complete opposite and takes many inches off your vertical jump!

Do you need to stick to a strict diet or what’s your approach to nutrition?

We don’t limit ourselves to a diet as such, however we both know what is good for our body and what isn’t. We know how to fuel our bodies appropriately and EVERYONE will have their own way of doing things and our bodies all need different sources/types of food as we aren’t all the same!

One size doesn’t fit all and carbs are very important - don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Have you had the opportunity to travel to any other countries to play? If so, where was your favourite place?

We’ve been so lucky to have the chance and opportunity to travel and with beach volleyball as you know you are always going somewhere warm! We’ve been to lots of different countries to compete with both indoor and beach; Cyprus, Malta, Liechtenstein, Austria, Luxembourg, San Marino, Belgium and also around the UK! It’s difficult picking a favourite because we’ve loved certain things about different countries.

Katie’s favourite if she had to pick would be Luxembourg, they always host brilliant CEV competitions in a great venue and have amazing food and the people are always lovely.

Rachel’s favourite is probably Liechtenstein. It's such a small country that most people probably would never visit but luckily volleyball took me there for a CEV beach event and it was the most beautiful little country with lovely scenery, a hidden gem for sure.

What’s your future goals?

We would love to compete for Team Scotland at The Commonwealth Games and work our way up the FIVB World Tour - This is our DREAM. We also always want to continue to have fun and smile while we play :)

Lastly for those who are reading that might want to try beach volleyball, how do they get involved?


You can contact Scottish Volleyball Association on facebook and they will be able to point you in the direction of a club in your local area. If not, you can contact us and we can help you out.


Instagram: @barbourmorrison_beachvb

I want to thank Katie and Rachel for their time and insight. I’m sure a lot of you will have found it an interesting read and maybe even inspired some of you to give beach volleyball a try….when restrictions allow. I would also like to wish Katie and Rachel luck with all their future competitions and events and keep us posted on your success.

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Keep evolving!

Coach E.

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