2019-09-17 03:28:00 CET
Evandro and Bruno couldn’t be more different, but they both found ways to be among the best spikers in the world
You know what is one of the coolest things about beach volleyball? It’s a very democratic sport, one in which players of completely different body types can succeed at the highest level.
Think about Brazilians Evandro Gonçalves and Bruno Schmidt, the bronze medalists of the 2019 Swatch Major Gstaad. The first is a 2.10m-tall beast with one of most powerful spikes in the planet while the second is a 1.85m-short phenomenon, who earned the nickname “The Magician” because of his outstanding vision and unparalleled ability to place the ball wherever he wants in a beach volleyball court.
Each in their own way, they’re both among the elite of the sport when it comes to spiking.
“The game is evolving and players are taller than ever now, but the good thing about beach volleyball is that there’s always room for creativity and intelligence,” Bruno, a Rio 2016 Olympic champion, said. “I obviously can’t match their size or their power, but I try to be smart and create trouble for my opponents in any way I can.”
A former indoor player, Evandro knew his height could be a difference-maker when he transitioned to the beach. After ten years playing on the sand and numerous titles won, including the 2017 World Championships, the 29-year-old star believes that standing at 2.10m proves to be helpful mainly when he needs to spike in less-than-ideal conditions.
“I think we can tell that the height difference plays a big factor when we’re out of system,” the blocker explained. “When my pass is not great, I just tell Bruno to set the ball as high as he can because due to my reach I can probably still score the point even if I’m off the net. With him, if the pass wasn’t great, I’ll need to be very, very capricious to set the ball in a spot in which he can hit it and if it’s not a great one, he’ll have a hard time.”
Partners indeed play a pivotal role when it comes to spiking, especially if you are a shorter player as Bruno. When facing massive blockers getting on their way for the entirety of a match, they need to rely on solid sets and, oftentimes, creative approaches to be in position to score the point.
That’s why Italian Olympic medalist Daniele Lupo hits a quick tempo ball down the middle and Polish stars Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak do what they do with their offense.
“It’s important that we are well-coordinated in our actions and that our partners are really, really perfectionists when setting,” Bruno added. “Some players try to hit faster balls, others hit from different spots every time and that kind of variation helps us to catch the opponents a little bit off guard on defense. The hope is that these plays will not only put us on a better spot to score the point, but also prevent us from wasting unnecessary energy in hitting multiple times in the same play.”
Energy management is another thing shorter players need to be mindful of when spiking. Every time they go to hit the ball, they need to give everything they have to overcome much taller players at the net. And that can be exhausting.
“The main thing for shorter players is to be on top of their games both physically and technically,” Bruno reflected. “While a taller player can still hit the ball pretty high even if he doesn’t give his best effort on a play, we always need to give all we have to get up there and be in a good position to score and that’s very demanding, especially when you start getting older.”
But don’t think taller players don’t have their own set of issues when spiking the ball. Just ask Evandro about it.
“My playing style is based on power and I know that if I can hit the ball high, it’s going to be hard for the defender to control it,” he commented. “But sometimes I feel that I get so high that I don’t really get to see the blocker and that can be tricky. Bruno, on the other hand, is great on that, he always knows where the blocker and the defender are and it’s amazing how he gets to score points just using his vision.”
Tall or short, all you want to do is put the ball on the sand.