Since its invention over a hundred years ago, few competitive sports have been able to so perfectly balance the sparring of the beach arena with the R&R of the beach bar. Ideal for a day of thrills and spills or equally enjoyable as a casual game where the main goal is to grab a tan (and take time-outs for a swift rum on the rocks). The smooth shift from beach to bar – from play to play – is what best defines volleyball as the sun soaked sport enjoyed on beaches across the world.
At the moment The Mall hosts the London Olympics beach volleyball tournament: Never before has the sport had such an easy transition from heated competition to cool après-match glamour. We’ve compiled a guide to the finest spots in London’s well heeled W1 postcode and a guide to to the game that will keep conversation flowing from The Mall’s beach to Mayfair’s bars.
The Connuaght Bar has become a byword for Mayfair chic. With an interior inspired by English artwork of the 1920s, The Connaught Bar will offer a quintessentially London contrast to the pop-up California on The Mall.
Located in a traditional public house dating from 1750 this Mayfair establishment (owned by a certain Mr. Guy Ritchie) is renowned for its first class English grub and celebrity clientele.
The name of this unusual restaurant and bar does not lie – the menu proudly boasts only three options: burger, lobster or a lobster roll. But don’t turn your nose up at the bullish simplicity as the food is absolutely excellent and a whole lobster (served with chips and salad) will set you back a paltry £20.
A front room bar simply named The Social Room is a relaxed affair with an absolutely knockout trademark Negroni (that comes with candied grapefruit, poured over a frozen blood orange). If the cocktails start to make you a little peckish, move to the spacious but welcoming restaurant.
A stonesthrow away from Green Park tube, Sumosan serves exceptional contemporary Japanese cuisine – Ideal for a light lunch of sushi or an evening with a date you’d like to impress. Try the green tea cheesecake for something a little different.
Just opposite Dover Street Market is Automat, W1’s hip retro diner of choice. Simple American classics done to perfection are the order of the day here. We highly recommend indulging in the Mud Pie.
Slug back bourbon heavy cocktails in the miniature bar upstairs or fill up on delicious slow-cooked ribs in the downstairs dining room, served on vintage enamel trays. This tiny Soho barbecue eatery doesn’t take bookings – because there aren’t enough seats.
Yotam Ottolenghi needs no introduction and Nopi, his Warwick Street restaurant and bar shouldn’t do either. Served in a light, clean but welcoming space, the dishes are designed for sharing.
Polpo, Soho’s excellent Venetian style Bacaro, has been keeping quiet about it’s stunning secret Campari bar. Simply go down the stairs, take a sharp right and push open the unmarked door. Need we say more?
Hidden in Chinatown, this open-secret bar offers some of the most unusual cocktails in the city. Simply knock on the unmarked door and wait to see who answers…
The ruby red colour of Campari shouts long hot summers and this inimitable à la plage classic is perfect for a hazy afternoon watching the volleyballs going back and forth.
Recipe: 1 part gin, 1 part campari, 1 part vermouth. shake well with cracked ice and garnish with a twist of orange peel.
This Brazilian classic tastes just as good in West London as it does on the hot sands of Rio.
Recipe: Crush 1/2 a lime, 2 teaspoons of castor sugar and ice into a lowball glass. Pour a shot of Cachaça over the ice. Add extra lime juice or sugar to taste.
This non-alcoholic smoothie is perfect for the more athletically inclined drinkers.
Recipe: quarter diced yellow melon, handful of raspberries, fresh orange juice, fresh lime juice, lemonade and a dash of grenade. Blend the ingredients, add ice and blend again. Pour over more crushed ice and top up with lemonade.
So, how do you play? Start by getting together at least four players (2 per side), grab a ball and hit the beach. The standard height for the net is 7’11” but if one isn’t available then a line in the sand and a healthy dose of sportsmanship will suffice. Games are played to 15 points and a point must be scored within three touches of the ball: typically a pass (where one player volleys the ball to a teammate) followed by a set (where the receiver of the pass hits the ball into the air ready for a teammate to strike it at the opposition) and finally a hit (the finishing strike, intended to score a point). A match is usually decided over 3 or 5 games but playing until the sun goes down or the cocktails come calling – whilst not a recognised rule by the United States Volleyball Association – is acceptable too.
One of the appealing things about volleyball is that – unlike other team sports such as football – the play does not rely on complex movements or elaborate skills in order to be enjoyed by beginners. As a point must be scored within only three touches of the ball, an average attack uses just three basic moves to be won (the pass, the set and the hit as mentioned above) Once you’ve got the hang of these three fundamental techniques, you’ll be ready to go up against even the most seasoned sun bleached players.
The pass represents the most recognisable idiosyncrasy of volleyball. With both forearms outstretched, fists tightly clenched into a ball and usually leaping heroically through the air, The passer needs to be sharp, alert and probably a little crazy (those balls will fly in very hard if hit right). The pass is the move that defends against an attack and starts your teams reply. Start by getting yourself into “the ready position” – knees bent with your weight on your toes – ready to pounce at the incoming ball. Keep your arms nice and straight, with your forearms facing outwards and your hands together in a ball. Aim to volley the ball with your wrists in the direction of your team mate who is going to take the next step in the attack – the Set.
Perhaps the simplest of the three fundamental volleyball techniques, this is a good move for an absolute beginner to deal with. Adopting some of the The Passer’s kamikaze spirit, the Setter should aim to stand below where the passed ball will land – ideally where, if the ball was to pass through your hands, it would hit them squarely in the forehead. Keep your knees bent and arms ready to spring above your head, with your hands creating a cradle for the ball. As you receive the ball, push through it in order to volley it to the next member of your team who will finish the attack with The Hit.
Make sure you’ve picked your most muscle bound friend for your team as The Hit is about strength, power and a short burst of speed. “The Spike” is the most common type of hit: Once the setter has lofted the ball into the air, the hitter should run towards where the ball is falling, leaping into the air to attack the space where the ball will be. Spike the ball sharply, down into the other teams area. Make sure you hit it hard, hit it fast, and hope for the best.
Charles “Karch” Kiraly might not be a household name but he has gone down in history as one of volleyball’s all time greats. Born in 1960 in San Clementine, California, Karch started his volleyball career as a high-school teenager under the guidance of his father, Laszlo, who had played for the hungarian national volleyball team. An unstoppable and highly decorated college team player, Karch soon became a fixture of the US national side during the mid-80s. After winning Olympic gold playing indoor volleyball in ’84 and again in ’88, he then turned his attention to beach volleyball and won gold at the ’96 Atlanta games. To this day he is the only player to have won Olympic gold in both disciplines. Inducted into the volleyball hall of game in 2001, his nickname from his national team days – the “Thunderball of Volleyball” – will live forever on the beaches of California.
Our Bulldog Athlete 2012 Edition shorts in Indigo Javelin
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Our Bulldog Athlete 2012 Edition shorts in Belize Volleyball
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