Secrets of Coaching Success: Aigars Birzulis (Part 1)

After getting some insights from several top-level volleyball coaches, today I introduce my second beach volleyball guest in the series. Aigars Birzulis is a Latvian specialist, who coached Tina Graudina & Anastasija Samoilova to the continental title at the 2022 CEV European Championship in Munich and Latvia’s women’s national team to bronze at the inaugural CEV BeachVolley Nations Cup 2022 in Vienna.

Aigars was born some 58 years ago when Latvia was still part of the Soviet Union. He played indoor volleyball in his youth years and even won a medal at the USSR Junior Championship.

He started working as a coach and sports methodologist in the mid-1980s and has since coached at various indoor volleyball clubs in Latvia. In 2005, Birzulis led the team of Incukalns/LU to the national championship title.

For many years he also head coached Latvia’s junior and youth national teams and even steered them to an eighth place finish at the 1997 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship. In a way, that job served as a stepping stone towards his career as a beach volleyball coach.

To keep his players in good shape, he had them practice beach volleyball during the summers. In 1996, when the inaugural CEV U20 Beach Volleyball European Championships were held in Jurmalа, two of Birzulis’s men’s duos made it to the podium – Austris Stalls & Armins Vensbergs with gold and Aldis Jaunzeikars & Klavs Zalkalns with bronze – and this is how his coaching career on the sand formally started.

More success was soon on the way. Between 2003 and 2011, Birzulis’s boys’ teams picked up another six continental medals at various age-category European Championships, including Janis Peda & Toms Smedins’s U18 title in 2003 and Toms Smedins & Janis Smedins’s U20 title in 2005.

Meanwhile in 2008, Aigars Birzulis graduated as a volleyball coach from the Latvian Academy of Sports Education. Before the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, he worked with Latvian Olympians Martins Plavins & Aleksandrs Samoilovs for three months.

His first major international coaching success at the senior level, however, came with Martins Plavins & Janis Smedins’s bronze at the 2010 European Championship in Berlin. They followed that up with a fourth place at the 2011 FIVB World Championship in Rome and, most importantly, with an Olympic bronze at London 2012. Birzulis also coached Martins Plavins & Haralds Regza to a historic gold at the Baku 2015 European Games.

Birzulis celebrating the London 2012 Olympic bronze with Plavins & Smedins

From 2014 to 2016, Birzulis claimed three international medals coaching Latvian age-category women’s teams – a 2014 U17 World Championship bronze with Tina Graudina & Linda Gramberga, a 2015 U18 European Championship title with Tina Graudina & Paula Neciporuka and a 2016 U22 European Championship title with Tina Graudina & Anastasija Kravcenoka.

Birzulis coached in Finland from 2017 to 2020. Since 2021 he has been involved with an FIVB development project coaching youth girls’ teams in Lithuania.

In August 2022, he was asked by the Latvian federation to be in charge of the women’s teams competing at the two major CEV events of the season. At the first-ever edition of the Nations Cup in Vienna, Birzulis steered the national team consisting of Anastasija Kravcenoka, Anete Namike, Tina Graudina and Varvara Brailko to the bronze medals. Then, under his guidance, Anastasija & Tina triumphed at EuroBeachVolley in Munich after winning all six of their matches and dropping a single set (in the final) along the way.

At the 2022 CEV Nations Cup with the Latvian women’s national team

For his achievements as a coach, Aigars Birzulis was made a Cavalier of the Order of Three Stars, Latvia’s highest state award for special merits.

Since July 2020, Aigars Birzulis has also been coaching at the sports center in the town of Marupe near Riga.

In his leisure time, the coach likes to go fishing and picking mushrooms and berries in nature.

“Cranberries are the same shape as volleyballs, so they always bring me a lot of good thoughts, because no matter where I am beach volleyball is in my head and heart.”

Aigars Birzulis
Beach volleyball coach

Vacancy: Budapest Beach Volleyball Coach

Position Overview:

UTE, one of the biggest sport clubs in Hungary, located in Budapest (the capital) is looking for a Junior Beach Volleyball Head Coach. The club’s volleyball section has one of the most successful elite junior indoor volleyball programs in the country. They also have a professional women’s indoor volleyball team, which plays in the Extra League (best 6 teams in the nation).

Last year, the club built 4 beach volleyball courts and started to introduce beach volleyball for their athletes. They would like to establish an elite junior beach volleyball program and look for a HEAD COACH.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

· Design a training program for Elite Junior Beach Volleyball Players.

· Organize, mentor, and supervise the coaching staff to assure that the program is properly


· Coordinate and supervise the Beach Volleyball program and the teams.

· Help to harmonize the club’s Junior Beach Volleyball Program with Indoor Volleyball Program.

· Have coaching responsibility for the best and most talented beach volleyball teams.

· This position will report to the Director of Volleyball, who oversees the direction of both the indoor and beach programs.

· Support the philosophy and vision of the club.

· Communicate effectively with the management, staff, coaches, and the athletes.

· This position will be required to work nights and weekends and travel when necessary.

Minimum Qualifications (Including Certificates and Licenses):

· Certified volleyball coach (advantage: University degree in volleyball coaching, any certification in beach volleyball)

· At least 5 years of beach volleyball coaching experience (preferably elite junior players who play at the highest level)

· Head coach experience is an advantage

· Knowledge of individual and team skills with the ability to teach these skills

· Use of English at a conversational level

Position: Full-time position Contract period: 15 May 2022 – 15 August 2022

Compensation: salary + housing provided (salary is negotiable)

If you are interested in this position: Please send us an application to , a cover letter indicating your interest and qualifications for this position, a resume/cv that includes employment history (including dates of employment) and if you have, professional references with contact information.

Scottish Volleyball to host FIVB Beach Volleyball Coaches Course for first time

Scottish Volleyball, in partnership with FIVB, are delighted to announce their first ever International Beach Volleyball Coaches course, which will run from March 29 to April 12.

The course is an opportunity for current and future coaches to receive the best tuition from a world-renowned tutor. With the establishment of more Beach Volleyball clubs than Scotland has ever had before, Scottish Volleyball are supporting the development of this discipline of the game with the guidance and knowledge of FIVB.

The course will be delivered online, with the support of FIVB Tutor, Vangelis Koutouleas. Vangelis is a former Greek professional athlete and current coach with a wealth of experience at all levels of Volleyball and Beach Volleyball. He has coached Volleyball in the European Championships, the Champions League, the CEV Cup, the Greek professional league, and the Volleyball England Super League. His Beach Volleyball coaching experience includes a bronze medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a silver medal in the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games and he has coached several British, Cypriot and Greek teams featuring on the World Tour, the World Championships, the European Championships, the Greek Pro Tour and the UKBT.

“Scottish Volleyball is delighted to announce our collaboration with FIVB and the highly experienced and talented course tutor, Vangelis Koutouleas. I urge all Scottish and international Beach Volleyball coaches to grasp this opportunity and register your participation. As CEO, I offer Vangelis all of Scottish Volleyball’s support and wish him and participants a fantastic course.”

Margaret Ann Fleming MBE
CEO of Scottish Volleyball

Scottish Volleyball Interim Coaching Officer, John Scrimgeour describes the course and the value it has: “This is a fantastic opportunity for coaches to engage with a high-quality tutor to develop and increase their knowledge of Beach Volleyball teaching, tactics and techniques.”

The programme of the course includes three parts:

  • Part 1 will be a series of e-learning modules via the FIVB e-learning platform. This part must be completed before commencing Part 2.
  • Part 2 will be a series of online webinars, which all participants must attend. The programme for these webinars will be released in due course.
  • Part 3 is an online examination in which candidates must meet a certain pass mark, which the tutor will explain during the webinars.


To register for this course, please click here. The cost for Scottish Volleyball members is £ 250 and £ 300 (approximately € 356) for non-members.

Beach ACE – Coaching in the Box: Scaling Performance Up



LEWIE LETT (HOST) Olympic and FIVB World Tour Commentator, Beach Coach Team GB

Lewie Lett currently works full-time in sport. His roles vary between broadcasting and coaching. Lett is experienced in both areas having commentated on multiple volleyball world championships and world tour events for the sports federation, the FIVB and also having coached Beach Volleyball for Team GB at the first European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Lett has vast experience, not only in elite sport, but also within developing athletes. He has worked in football, cricket, and skiing and also as a multi-skills coach. Lett mentors coaches and has run many coach development programmes. He studied sports psychology and also sports coaching and athlete development. His educational background and experience help aid his role as an educator but also as a sports broadcaster.

JEFF CONOVER Olympic Coach and AVP Senior Director

Jeff Conover is currently the AVP Senior Director for Sport and Competition driving the development of coaching in the box for the professional tour in the US. He has continued to enhance the role of the beach coach and offers a unique insight into how the AVP has advocated for this competitive advantage.

Jeff, a former player, turned coach and continues to hit the sand with some of the best talent in the US. He also coached and prepared Team USA for the London Olympics with April Ross and Jen Kessy who won the silver medal.

ANNA COLLIER Olympic and Former Head Coach at USC Women’s Beach

Anna is an Olympic beach volleyball coach who led the University of Southern California to three National Championships with an overall record of 206-38. She is the 2019 NCAA Beach National Coach of the Year and has coached numerous teams representing the USA at home and abroad.

She has seen and advocated for the continued development of the professionalization of beach coaching and offers a unique perspective on how it has advanced the game over the years.


Webinar with Kåre Mol online

We announced the webinar with Kåre Mol at the beginning of the year, now you can watch the full 2 hours online on youtube:

“Nowo at 47” – FIVB-News article featuring Robert Nowotny

Former World Tour Player and IBVCA Coach Robert Nowotny celebrated his 47th birthday recently. Reason enough to get an article on the FIVB news site. Read it here:

Marco Solustri featured in FIVB News

Read here an article about IBVCA Coach Marco Solustri:

Webinar with Kåre Mol
IBVCA Coach Kåre Mol is the father of Anders Mol and coach of the best male beach-volleyball duo in the world at the moment: Mol/Sorum.
In a webinar hosted by former Dutch national volleyball players, Yannick van Harskamp and Dirk Sparidans from Njoi Life, he shared his passion and knowledge about our beloved game! 
Take a moment to imagine coaching the most successful beach volleyball team in the world. Now imagine being part of the long journey to reach it. To know how it feels we must talk with someone who does… in this episode listen to Kåre Mol!

(and watch the full 2 hours webinar for € 7,50)

Watch a short teaser here:

Angie Akers revealed as a Speaker at the AVCA Convention 2020

Angie Akers is currently the Head Coach for the USA Beach National Team of April Ross and Alix Klineman and previously led the Dutch Beach National Team of Madelein Meppelink and Marleen van Iersel to 4 FIVB medals (2 silver, 2 bronze) and a 6th place overall Olympic Ranking.

At this year’s AVCA Virtual Convention she will take us into the training process she is utilizing with April and Alix as they prepare for the Olympics. Coaches will see first hand how she develops and executes dills to promote improvement in elite athletes.

If you are interested find more info about the AVCA Convention here:



AVP article featuring IBVCA Coach of the Year Scott Davenport

Scott Davenport was just voted Coach of the Year by his IBVCA colleagues. Read here an interesting article about his work as a coach.

The Team Behind The Team: Scott Davenport