USA Volleyball recently debuted USAVplay, a program that allows younger volleyball players to develop well-rounded skills and techniques. There are USAVplay events for both indoor and beach volleyball, and some camps allow players a chance to play both.

Beach volleyball Hall of Famer Patty Dodd knows a lot about teaching beach volleyball to young athletes. A long-time coach at MBSand and the Dodd Volleyball School, she is influential in developing USAVplay Beach curriculum. Recently, Dodd answered a few questions about the program.

Can you tell us a little bit about USAVplay Beach?

USAVplay Beach is a program designed to provide younger players of all experience levels with opportunities to develop volleyball skills and confidence. The high energy and developmentally appropriate camps and clinics allow elementary and middle school children to play doubles, which is proven to help accelerate development by increasing the number of opportunities athletes have to perform key skills. These clinics are purely about development and fun.

From your experience as a coach at different levels of the beach game, what’s unique about the philosophy of this program in comparison to others that you’ve be involved in?

USAVplay is open to everybody regardless of their level of experience. To train in the National Team Development Program, you must be invited, you must have been seen by a NTDP scout. To be part of a national team, you earn a spot after years of hard work and results. USAVplay allows elementary and middle school kids the opportunity to discover beach volleyball in a safe and positive environment. It introduces players to fundamentals and provides lots of opportunities for touches, feedback and playing time. The curriculum was carefully developed to make it a fun learning experience.

The USAVplay program is focused on the fundamentals of age-appropriate athlete development. From your point of view, how important is it to focus on development to set young athletes up for success later in their careers? [U10-U15]

It’s really important to expose kids early to volleyball just like Little League Baseball and AYSO do for other sports. Let’s give them an opportunity to play, discover and choose what they prefer. Kids that learn beach fundamentals correctly from an early age have a big advantage. Good fundamentals lead to more fun during play.

What inspired you to get involved with the USAVplay program?

I wanted to share what I’ve learned over the years with USA Volleyball. I run Dodd Volleyball School in LA, it’s the feeder program for MBsand Club. This age group, kids are enthusiastic and eager to learn. I hope my contributions to the curriculum will foster the love for beach volleyball and increase the interest in our sport.

What do you enjoy most about working with this age group?

I love working with young kids because It’s so much fun to watch the joy in their faces when they do things for the first time. It can be a spike or a serve over the net. It’s always a thrill for two youngsters to put all three contacts together, to pass-set-hit successfully. There is no bench in beach, kids are guaranteed to play full-time. They easily get hooked on beach volleyball because they touch the ball so often and they can dive on the sand and not get hurt.

What is the next opportunity to participate in a USAVplay Beach event?

The next USAVplay event will be held August 13-15 in Austin, Texas. It’s a hybrid camp, allowing athletes to train in both beach and indoor volleyball.