The Diving Dig

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

Outside magazine, July 1999

The Diving Dig

The Diving Dig | The Cartwheel | The Figure Four | Take the Stairs | The Crossover Dribble | The Righteous Gitis | The Rock-a-Copter | Hang Ten | The Twisting Somersault | The Wheelie

Wait for your window of opportunity. The company picnic, perhaps. Your coworkers on the other side of the volleyball net have let down their guard, but they haven't set down their beers. Without warning, you seize the chance and make a spectacular diving dig at the boss's feet, saving a crucial point. Cheers erupt from over by the grill. "Defense wins games," says Holly McPeak, 30, former UCLA star and a 1996 beach volleyball Olympian. "The other team can be ready to put you away, but make a diving dig to rob them of a point and it can change the whole momentum of the match. It's a backbreaker."

Start from the universal athletic crouch: feet shoulder-width apart, weight distributed on the balls of your feet. The instant you sense the trajectory of the ball—"Look at the palm of your opponent's hand," says McPeak—take two quick steps toward the spot where it's going to land and then start your dive. Picture a swimmer launching off the blocks. You'll find yourself levitating for a nanosecond, in which time you want to stretch out your arms as far as posible and meet the ball with clasped hands. Or, if you use one hand, make a fist "shaped for holding an ice cream cone," McPeak advises. Finishing the job is not simply a matter of belly flopping in the sand. Be sure to pop the ball high enough so that your teammates have a chance to complete the play. "It's not actually a dig if the ball goes flying off in the wrong direction," notes McPeak.


Power-building weight lifts more commonly associated with big-bellied Russian Olympians, such as clean-pulls and hang-cleans.

PHOTO: Steve Bonini

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