Secrets of Coaching Success: Spiros Karachalios (Part 3)

The fifth episode of the series is the first one to feature a beach volleyball coach, Spiros Karachalios, the Greek specialist, who mentored his teams to three European Championship titles and numerous prestigious international podiums, led Poland’s Bartosz Losiak & Piotr Kantor to the top of the FIVB World Ranking in 2018, and recently steered the Swiss women’s national team to a historic trophy at the inaugural CEV BeachVolley Nations Cup. Here is the last part of the interview he gave for

Continued from Part 2

The CEV Nations Cup you recently won coaching the women’s national team of Switzerland was something different. Please share your experience at that competition.

“It was a nice and interesting experience for me as we had the chance to compete in a different format. I have to say that I really liked this format for this kind of event. The CEV and the promoter in Vienna made some adjustments to the Continental Cup format and, in my opinion, the result was much more attractive. Big shout-out to the CEV and the organizers for including the coaches in the awarding ceremony, showing some recognition for our work! About coaching, I already participated in some events in the past (Brazilian tour, Continental Cup, junior tournaments), where the coach was allowed to be in the players’ box and interact with them in a similar way as it was at the CEV Nations Cup. Even the FIVB tested it on the World Tour at the 2005 Athens Open.

“As a coach, I feel much better when I can also be part of the game and have the chance to help my team win the game. In addition, competing against fellow coaches live during the match is much more interesting than just watching the games of your team without having any chance to influence and have an impact on the result. I believe that, more or less, most of the coaches just feel helpless, when they watch their team play from the outside. Another benefit I could experience and see is that the learning process for the players is much faster, when the coach can interact with them in real time during the matches. In my opinion, practice is very important, but the real games offer us the examples and the opportunities for growth. When you can connect your trainings with the different game situations in real time, you are learning and growing much faster as an athlete.”

There has been a trend of introducing more and more team competitions like the Nations Cup, the Continental Cup, the World Beach Games 4×4, national leagues, etc. Will this trend increase the importance of the beach volleyball coach role?

“To be honest, I don’t believe that these kind of competitions mentioned above should be the main product of our sport in the future. I can see them more as complementary events, adding something interesting and perhaps some extra value to the whole package. In this sense, I also don’t believe that, in the end, they can really increase the importance of the beach volleyball coach role. However, these events are great opportunities to introduce the role of the coach during the matches, which helps the media and the public to better understand the importance of the beach volleyball coach role.”

Name something about the coaching profession in beach volleyball you think the general public knows little about.

“Always, the first impression of somebody hearing the word ‘beach’ brings in mind summer, warm weather, beautiful places, holidays… However, for us there is unbelievably too much travelling all year long, which automatically means too little time at home to spend with friends and family. The weather conditions can also be very extreme, much different from that first impression! I will never forget that it was snowing during some matches in Moscow in June 2017!”

What has been the key to your coaching success so far?

“Success is a result of multiple factors and sometimes it is difficult to determine what the key is. I would say that there are even different keys behind different success stories. However, I can describe what I feel was important for me. I believe that one of the most important things I try to do is just keep learning, keep developing, keep questioning everything and brainstorm. Always be willing to go a step further. I try to have a vision for every new team and then build a tailor-made plan for them with the way to get there. Of course, it is normal to have one philosophy, but you need to keep in mind that you need to make small or big adjustments according to the players and the team you are coaching. When I look at it now, I am happy that most of the time I could communicate and pass this vision to my athletes and my staff. For that, I had to find different ways, different ideas, different plans… After all, we have different athletes, different people, different teams… Finally, in my opinion, building a strong TEAM is fundamental for success. My short definition of this is ‘a group of people with common goals, where every member acknowledges exactly his/her role in the team and is working daily with precision and maximum effort to increase his/her efficiency, in order to reach the common goals TOGETHER as a team’.”

Some champagne for the coach too!

What is the main thing you try to teach your players?

“If I have to limit it to one or two things, I would say self-responsibility and solution-oriented mindset. Self-responsibility is the base for building a strong team. I always say that building a team starts from the moment the members have awareness of their self-responsibility. In addition, I believe that in beach volleyball it is very important to teach the players to think solution-wise. Beach volleyball is a sport of many different situations, which you need to be able to recognize without the coach during the game, and then make fast decisions to anticipate what is going on at the moment. Players need to orientate much more towards solutions. It will definitely help them in efficient fast decision-making, which will eventually lead to reacting successfully in real time, according to the specific situations in every game.”

Is there a coach, from beach volleyball or another sport, you look up to and follow as a role model?

“I don’t try to follow somebody as a role model, because I believe that you have to be authentic and build your own way. However, at the same time, I can tell you that I look up to so many coaches from beach volleyball and other sports as well. It is very interesting and beneficial for me to find out other perspectives and new ideas. There are so many great coaches out there, who share their stories and experiences, and you can always catch something new, which in some point perhaps will help you in your unique way. I prefer not to mention specific names, because my list is really endless.”

How do you rest and recover outside your job?

“That’s a tough one! There are many moments when your vision keeps your mind active even when you have a day off or some holidays. Through the years and different experiences, I realize more and more the importance of disconnecting from volleyball for some periods. I can’t say that I am always successful at that, but my family and especially my young son help a lot in this direction! I really enjoy spending time with them, making short trips or just doing various activities. I also enjoy riding my motorcycle around Athens. It relaxes me and brings some peace to my mind.”

Secrets of Coaching Success: Spiros Karachalios (Part 2)

The fifth episode of the series is the first one to feature a beach volleyball coach, Spiros Karachalios, the Greek specialist, who mentored his teams to three European Championship titles and numerous prestigious international podiums, led Poland’s Bartosz Losiak & Piotr Kantor to the top of the FIVB World Ranking in 2018, and recently steered the Swiss women’s national team to a historic trophy at the inaugural CEV BeachVolley Nations Cup. Here is the full interview he gave for

What prompted you to become a beach volleyball coach?

“I love beach volleyball, but I can’t say that it was a conscious or planned decision to become a beach volleyball coach. I would say that it was more a sequence of coincidences, together with the passion that I have for the sport, that shaped my way and drove me there. I started playing volleyball at the age of 11 in a local club in my neighborhood, Ambelokipi, located in the center of Athens. The funny thing is that as juniors we were only playing outdoors, because the club didn’t have an indoor facility. My teammates and I used to play 2×2 tournaments on that outdoor volleyball court all day long. This was my first contact with something that was somewhat like beach volleyball and I really enjoyed it much more than volleyball. Soon I also started competing in national youth and junior categories in beach volleyball and I was quite successful. I kept playing both versions also as a senior and I could make a living doing what I loved, while studying economics.

“In 1998, Efi Sfyri & Vasso Karadassiou decided to quit indoor volleyball, focus only on beach volleyball and make a run for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. At that time, it was already decided that the 2004 Olympic Games would be held in Athens, so the Greek volleyball federation started to invest in beach volleyball. They hired a beach volleyball coach from USA, Jeff Alzina, to train the girls and develop one of the first professional federation beach volleyball programs in Europe. I was just there, trying to get every opportunity I could to play beach volleyball, and one day Efi and Vasso just asked me if I could join their trainings on a more regular basis so that I could help the new coach as an assistant and as a training partner. Sure, why not… and that was the turning point and my first contact with coaching. Of course, at that time I still was a passionate player and I was seeing this part-time coaching as an opportunity to learn things and develop myself as a player. At the same time, I was also really enjoying this new role and kept doing it also with the next coach, Alemao from Brazil. For me coaching is much more complex than playing, which at the end makes it really, really interesting.

“Finally, the girls qualified for the Olympics in Sydney and I was so excited… I remember I would stay awake at crazy times, because of the time difference, just to watch their games live, and Ι already had a coaching perspective. After the Olympics in Sydney, it was very clear to me that I wanted somehow to participate in the next Olympics in Athens. For various reasons I didn’t see a chance as a player at that moment, and I guess that subconsciously I made a choice to invest more and more in coaching. As a person, I am ambitious and I like to keep developing. Looking back now, I believe that, in my case, there were much more opportunities to develop as a coach and this definitely played a role to make the transition from playing to coaching at a really young age.”

In many cases, a coach is an employee of the duo he/she is coaching. Please explain the psychology of such a relationship with the players.

“Perhaps I am not the best person to explain the psychology of such a relationship, because I see the coaching job in a very specific way. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter so much who your employer is. Anyway, as a coach, you should be able to inspire, develop the players and the team in order to meet some specific goals. In case the interaction between the players and the coach stops being productive, for me it does not matter who the employer is – it has to end. Players, a federation or a president of a club can be your employer, but you need to be yourself and just play your coaching role in the best possible way. In this sense, the psychological part of the job and the interaction with the players remain pretty similar for me, no matter who the employer is. I strongly believe that, in order to be a successful coach, you cannot be afraid of losing your job. On the contrary, you MUST be willing to risk or change your job, when things are not working in the right way.”

When coaching a beach pair, do you focus more on improving the individual skills of each player or on improving the interaction between the two?

“It depends on the period and the phase of the specific team, but you definitely have to focus in both directions. In beach volleyball, we are much more limited in terms of solutions, when things are not working. For example, you don’t have substitutions during the match, you can’t just select or buy new players for the next season, you can’t coach during the match… You just have two players and, when you want to improve, you need to keep working on improving the individual skills. However, the interaction between them is also very important, especially with the absence of the coach during the official games. As a coach, you should usually find the right balance between the tasks that you need to work.

“As I see it, there is no magic recipe. Every athlete and every team is unique! My experiences showed me that, in our sport, it is essential to keep growing as a team. Otherwise, there are always other teams that catch up and eventually pass you. You can’t just stay the same, even in moments when you are already good and successful. At least you usually have more time for improving the individual skills of the players than you do with professional indoor volleyball teams. Luckily, there is also such a wide range of skills which the players need to master that there is always something to work on and improve. In the end, improving the individual skills and building some tools for anticipating the many different situations that our game offers is also helpful for improving the interaction between the players.”

Spiros Karachalios during a CEV Nations Cup match

Unlike indoor volleyball, coaching during beach volleyball matches is generally not allowed. What is the reasoning behind this rule and would you change it?

“I don’t think that there is a specific reason; it just comes from the roots of the game. For sure, I would change it. Beach volleyball progressed a lot during the years and professional coaching played a huge role in the growth of the playing level. We need to keep evolving as a sport and I believe that the interaction of the coach during the games will further improve the level and could make the matches even more interesting. Even in tennis, which is a much more traditional sport, they are making more and more steps to include the coach in some parts of the game. On the other hand, I am sure that I wouldn’t like constant interaction like there is in volleyball nowadays, because it would kill the character of beach volleyball. My proposal would be that the coach can interact with the players only between the sets and during timeouts.”

Because of that rule, beach volleyball coaches are hardly ever in the media spotlight and generally unknown to the wide public. Is this good or bad for the sport?

“I can’t see any reason why this is good for our sport. In general, fans are interested in having access to more information about their favorite teams. Hearing the coach’s perspective can give you extra insight or a different view on a game. As a fan of other sports, I definitely like to know more about the coaches and find it really interesting to watch or read interviews, post-game reports, etc. Anyway, coaches have a role in the team and are also part of every success and every failure. Why should we hide them?”

Secrets of Coaching Success: Spiros Karachalios (Part 1)

After hearing from several top-level volleyball coaches, today I introduce my first beach volleyball guest in the series. Spiros Karachalios is a 43-year-old Greek specialist, who recently steered the Swiss women’s national team to a historic trophy at the inaugural CEV BeachVolley Nations Cup.

Spiros was born in 1979 and started when he was 11 years old. The local club in Athens did not have an indoor facility, so Spiros and his teammates had to practice their favorite sport, playing two on two at an outdoor court. It was not on sand, but close enough to the beach version of the game.

As he grew up, Spiros competed in both disciplines, but it was beach volleyball that he enjoyed the most. He and his partner Dimitrios Nerantzis represented Greece at the inaugural 1999 CEV U23 Beach Volleyball European Championship in Schinias and finished fifth. In 2003, Karachalios made a couple of more international appearances at FIVB tournaments as a player, but at the time, he was already more drawn to the coaching profession.

In 1999, he started as an assistant coach to the Greek women’s duo of Efi Sfyri & Vasso Karadassiou, helping them on the road to qualifying for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Karachalios stayed on as an assistant coach through 2004, when Sfyri & Karadassiou finished ninth at the home Olympics in Athens. During that period, the Greek pair also topped the podium at the 2001 CEV European Championship in Jesolo.

For the next Olympic cycle, Karachalios was promoted to a coaching position with the Greek women’s national teams. He claimed two more EuroBeachVolley titles at Moscow 2005 and Valencia 2007 with Vasso Karadassiou & Vasiliki Arvaniti, as well as several medals on the FIVB World Tour, including gold at the 2005 Stavanger Grand Slam. Karachalios also led Efthalia Koutroumanidou & Maria Tsiartsiani to a ninth-place finish at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

During that period, the Greek specialist also had his first coaching assignment abroad, working with Finnish twins Emilia Nystrom & Erika Nystrom.

In 2010 and 2011, Karachalios worked with Greece’s youth national teams and, in 2012, he coached the Polish men’s pair of Michal Kadziola & Jakub Szalankiewicz steering them to a fourth place at the European Championship in the Hague and bronze medals at the CEV Continental Cup and the FIVB World Cup Finals.

As a coach of the Greek men’s team of Georgios Kotsilianos & Nikos Zoupani, he took a fifth place at the 2013 FIVB Grand Slam in Xiamen and a couple of continental medals, silver at the 2015 CEV Satellite in Skopje and bronze at the 2014 CEV Satellite in Vaduz. They also won the 2014 BVA Balkan Tour.

At the helm of German women’s duo Chantal Laboureur & Julia Sude, Karachalios celebrated with a number of prestigious international podiums, including gold medals at the 2016 FIVB Porec Major and at the 2016 CEV Jurmala Masters, helping the team reach as high as the number three spot in the FIVB World Ranking.

Spiros Karachalios’s coaching career peaked during the next Olympic cycle, when he drove his Polish pair of Bartosz Losiak & Piotr Kantor to the number one position in the men’s World Ranking for several months in 2018.

His achievements as a coach of Poland’s men’s national teams included World Tour four-star gold medals at Warsaw 2018 and Sochi 2021, a five-star silver at Gstaad 2017 and a EuroBeachVolley bronze at Vienna 2021 with Losiak & Kantor, as well as Doha 2020 four-star gold, a Vienna 2018 five-star silver and a Tokyo 2020 Olympics ninth-place with Michal Bryl & Grzegorz Fijalek. Amazingly, he had both of these pairs on the podium at the 2018 World Tour Finals in Hamburg, with bronze and silver, respectively.

After the Games in Tokyo last year, Spiros Karachalios took over women’s bronze medalists Joana Heidrich & Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland. They made it to their first Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour semifinal at the Ostrava Elite16 event in May. Just a few days later, the Swiss were well on their way to the FIVB World Championship podium at Rome 2022, after a 21-16 win in the first set and a 10-7 lead in the second set of the bronze medal match, when Heidrich received a grave shoulder injury as she was serving, which forced them to forfeit the game and settle for the fourth place.

With Menia Bentele stepping in as Verge-Depre’s partner while Heidrich is recovering, Karachalios led the Swiss women’s national team, also including Nina Brunner & Tanja Huberli, to triumph at the inaugural 2022 CEV BeachVolley Nations Cup in Vienna this summer. Shortly after that, Verge-Depre & Bentele also finished fifth at EuroBeachVolley 2022 in Munich.

“I believe that one of the most important things I try to do is just keep learning, keep developing, keep questioning everything and brainstorm. Always be willing to go a step further.”

Spiros Karachalios
Beach Volleyball Coach

Beach Volleyball Coach – Israel

The Israel Volleyball Association are looking to recruit a beach volleyball coach to join their team of coaches within the National Team Programme.

The deadline for any applications is Thursday 22nd December. Please see document below for further information.

IBVCA 2021 Coach of the Year Awards

Congratulations to the following Coaches!

Women’s Coach of the Year

Angie Akers (Klinemann/Ross – USA)

Mens’ Coach of the Year

Mariano Baracetti (Cherif/Ahmed – QAT)

Women Most Outstanding Improvement

Richard de Kogel (Stam/Schoon – NED)

Mens Most Outstanding Improvement

Victor Anfiloff & Reinder Nummerdor (Boermans/de Groot – NED)

Lifetime Achievement Award

Marco Solustri

Agenda IBVCA General Assembly June 22nd 2022
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Offensive and Defensive Tactics

#beachACE Masterclass 1

January 20, 2022 // Los Angeles 12:00 PM, Rio 5:00 PM, London 8:00 PM, Tokyo 5:00 AM (+1)

It’s that time of year where we have the opportunity to review what and how we teach. Join Victor Anfiloff, former Head Coach of the Dutch national program, as he shares his ideas on how to manufacture break/defensive points and also how to disrupt blockers in side-out. This one-hour masterclass will be beneficial for coaches at all levels.


Victor Anfiloff is currently the Head of Education with the International Beach Volleyball Coaches Association (IBVCA). He is a three-time Olympic coach for the Netherlands (2008, 2012 and 2020). Victor was also the Talent Coach for the Netherlands for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Victor is an advocate for developing educational opportunities and professional sustainability for beach coaches globally.


The Panel


Kåre Mol has been coaching volleyball and beach volleyball for more than 30 years. He is a four-time Olympic coach for Norway (1996, 2004, 2008 and 2020). Kåre has coached Mol-Sørum from the youth level to a world leading beach team. The pair has won 120 out of the last 130 games with 22 international tournament wins, including Olympic gold and four European championships.

Kåre is passionate about making the sport better and more accessible for children. He is also committed to coaching excellence with high-performance athletes.


Angie Akers is currently the Head Coach for Team USA Olympic Gold Medal winning team of April Ross and Alix Klineman. Before joining the team of Ross-Klineman in 2020, Angie was a Federation Coach for the Netherlands from 2015-2020. She coached Madelein Meppelink and Marleen van Iersel at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Before her coaching career, she competed professionally on the AVP Tour from 2002-2013 and on the FIVB Tour from 2009-2012. Angie graduated from the University of Notre Dame where she played indoor volleyball.


Victor Anfiloff is currently the Head of Education with the International Beach Volleyball Coaches Association (IBVCA). He is a three-time Olympic coach for the Netherlands (2008, 2012 and 2020). Victor was also the Talent Coach for the Netherlands for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Victor is an advocate for developing educational opportunities and professional sustainability for beach coaches globally.

Seeking value beyond results

Thoughts by Marco Solustri

The Greeks, who were wise and very, very serious people, said that our identity is determined by the people around us.

In more recent times, cultural anthropologists have pointed out that it is not individuals who act on society, but rather it is society at large that determines the majority of our behaviors. In short, we are in the grips of what we might call a “cultural cage”.

These simple considerations alone emphasise how important it is to surround ourselves with people who make us feel at ease, who share similar values and who eventually “catalyze” our best qualities and inclinations.

Here’s a trivial example amongst many that could be given: if we like being active, it would not be fulfilling to live in a community where a sedentary lifestyle is the norm. Of course, connecting with those who share our values does not imply avoiding confrontation or exchange with those who do not resemble us, with those we might view as “different” from ourselves. It is thanks to these diverging viewpoints that we experience evolution, growth, development. In one way or another, though, we must have a common starting point, shared intentions, motivations…values.

In the case of sports, a coach must share goals with his/her athletes, which I prefer calling values.
A goal can be winning a certain tournament or achieving a certain result – but when we talk about values, we are really engaging in a common understanding of the behaviors and attitudes that will help us on that path. I don’t like hearing people say you must win at any cost. Victory must always be guided by ethical behavior.

I have always thought that flexibility and adaptability are very important qualities, almost indispensable, to be a good coach. But on the basic values – those that constitute the essence not only of our way of working, but above all of our way of being – we cannot compromise.

If we have chosen to be “open minded” people, to face life’s risks (in a more or less calculated way), to believe in communication, to put passion in what you do, to face with optimism the problems that we face, to accept the most difficult challenges with enthusiasm and without anxieties or fears… then we need to relate to people who share our values.

Two simple examples to clarify the points made. A coach can and must adapt to a player who does not want to hand set because he/she is afraid of making a mistake. However, a coach cannot accept that an athlete of his/hers takes performance enhancing substances. In the first example flexibility is key, while the second one would entail a compromise of values, namely honesty and respect for the rules.

For some months now I have had increasing clarity on the fact that in my future work I want to surround myself with people (olympic athletes? Sixty-year-olds with beer bellies? Children from disadvantaged parts of the world?) who share these values of mine.

I would like to train motivated players who are aware and enthusiastic about the privilege of being a professional athlete.

I would like to train amateurs who come to the beach at 7 am before work, just so they can run and jump happily on the sand.

I would like to train children with a perennial smile, perhaps because just having a new ball is a source of happiness.

Am I asking too much?

ACE: Advanced Coaching Education

The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) has partnered with the International Beach Volleyball Coaches Association (IBVCA), to elevate professional beach volleyball coaching through advocacy, education, and networking. This partnership will drive a new education initiative for beach volleyball coaches who aspire to or who already coach at the highest levels of the game both in the United States and across the globe: ACE – Advance Coaching Education