08.07.2020 - Vienna, Austria
The objective of the game of beach volleyball is to put the ball in the opposition's court and there’s multiple ways to do it, but most of them involve attacking it somehow. Be it with stunning power or jaw-dropping finesse, beach volleyball players around the world work extensively in refining their offensive crafts day in and day out.
A hard hit that bounces super high and a well-placed shot count the same in the score, so at the end of the day what matters is how effective you can be at the net regardless of which strategy you pick.
These five (Spoiler: six!) guys, in no specific order, have been right at the top when it comes to hitting at the Beach Major Series.
The top Dutch team competing in the World Tour is known for its impressive ability to hit the ball hard and Alex is the one of them who does it more often. An oversized defender at 1.98m, the Dutchman uses all of his size and his power to his advantage as few others and is always looking to bounce balls in the opposition’s court. Brouwer is very consistent when hitting the ball and most of the time he gives it everything he has, be it in a side out situation or in transition. That strong-minded approach has led him to take home the World Tour Best Hitter’s award in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, two years in which he was particularly effective in the skill. A world champion in 2013 and an Olympic bronze medalist three years later, he scored 100 or more points in ten of the 18 Beach Major Series events he played at and was in the top-five in kills in six of those tournaments.
Few nicknames in the world of sports are more appropriate than Alison’s. At 2.03m and 102kg, the Brazilian blocker really resembles a Mammoth every time he steps on a sand court. His impressive physicality translates into unbelievable power when he’s trying to put the ball on the sand at the other side of the net, but more than size, strength and energy, the most prominent element in Alison’s offensive game is his aggressiveness. The Brazilian is a player that rarely shoots or pokes the ball, preferring to hit it as hard as possible over and over. That has led him to be the World Tour’s Best Hitter in 2011, 2012 and 2016. His massive reach and mental strength have taken him a long way as a Rio 2016 gold and London 2012 silver Olympic medalist and a two-time world champion. The Mammoth has also won four Beach Major Series tournaments and averages 67.50 hitting points in the event.
Anders has the full package when it comes to hitting. The 2.00m-tall blocker has the size, the vertical, the skills and the volleyball IQ to be nearly unstoppable at the net, as he was for the most part of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, when he took back-to-back awards as both the World Tour Most Outstanding Player and Best Offensive Player. Anders has a sharp angle hit from the right side of the net that’s virtually impossible to be blocked or dug, but that’s just one piece of his endless repertoire. The Beach Volley Viking is skilled and strong enough to send the ball with power or finesse anywhere he wants, but what set him apart from most of the great hitters are his unbelievable vertical and his clarity when deciding what to do when spiking. As he told us last September, making the right decision is far more important than executing it perfectly and there’s probably no one better than Anders when it comes to it.
Smedins is a nightmare for several blockers and defenders competing at the World Tour. A split-blocker with partner Aleksandrs Samoilovs, the London 2012 Olympic bronze medalist brings the same level of versatility and craftiness that characterizes basically every aspect of his game to the net when he’s hitting. Due to his outstanding technical and physical abilities, the Latvian can do absolutely anything when he approaches the net for a spike, from a centimeter-perfect shot down the line to a powerful angle hit that leaves no options for the defenders. He’s also a lefty and hits the ball in different timing and spot than the majority of right-handed spikers on Tour, adding another layer of difficulty to those trying to read his movement. All these elements have led Smedins to be considered the World Tour’s Best Hitter in 2013 and 2014, the Best Offensive Player in 2016 and to win four medals at the Beach Major Series.
Phil has been smashing balls around the world for the most part of the last 15 years now. The most impressive part of the Thin Beast’s dominant game at the net is not his power or his savviness, but how he learned to rely on each of them at the right times to remain a treat during all this time. From winning the first of his four World Tour Best Hitter awards in 2007 to taking home the last of his five Best Offensive Player titles in 2017, the American star has fluidly adapted his game to the conditions around him, but never lost a step in the process. Don’t expect the 40-year-old Phil to bounce balls the way he did when he was 25, but if look close enough you’ll see how beautiful it is to realize he makes the right call every single time a serve goes his way – which is not that often, believe me.
It’s not – and it has never been – about power with Daniele Lupo. The Italian wizard is one of the few top players in the world to rely almost exclusively on his finesse on his offense. Don’t get me wrong, Lupo has the size and the physical tools to hit the ball hard when he needs or wants to, but his offensive game has been strongly built upon his technical and mental skills. The Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist typically hits an up-tempo ball right at the center of the net, which gives him not only a timing advantage over the opposing blocker but also perfect placing to put the ball anywhere in the court. One thing that makes the strategy even more efficient is that Lupo is extremely consistent on his approach, giving little or no hints about how he’s going to hit the ball. For his opponents, it’s always a guessing game when they serve Lupo.