Ahhhhh… the title of this post probably makes you think of the beach – the soft sand, the waves crashing, the sun warming your body. Sounds like a great day.
Of course, since this is a blog about training athletes, we all know this post isn’t about fun in the sun. While we usually think of the fun that we have at the beach, it’s also a place for your athletes to get some good speed & agility work in. Now I know that you’re wondering “why would I take my athletes to the beach to train?”. The question should be “why haven’t I been taking them?”.
Benefits of Sand Training
- Deceased forces on the body due to shock absorbsion of the sand
- Increased use of muscles due to instability of the sand
- Increased challenges to balance and coordination due to instability of the sand
- Increased ankle strength
Once you read through the list most of it probably makes sense. Many of the benefits do come from the fact that the sand is an unstable surface. I have heard former NFL players claim that they never had ankle injuries in their career due to training in the sand. That benefit in itself is huge for most athletes.
I know that there are people on all ends of the “functional training” spectrum. Some coaches design their entire program on balance pads and inflatable balls. Others don’t do any exercises on either of them. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. The thing about sand training is that it can keep both sides happy. It allows you to do “traditional” agility and speed drills while also incorporating an unstable component.
So how do you design a sand workout?
First off, I wouldn’t plan on using the sand every day. It can be taxing on the legs. Plus, when it comes to sport specificity, unless you play sand volleyball you need to spend time on the court, grass, etc. As for what to do, almost any type of cone drill, mini hurdle drill, jumping drill, or speed drill can be adapted to the sand. Let your imagination go wild!!
What do you do if you don’t live near a beach? If you don’t want to build your own sand pit, you will have to look around a little. Many places have parks with sand volleyball courts that you can use. Some lakes have a recreational beach that has sand. See what you can find that will work for your training.