Volleyball

SANDCAST is the leading podcast for beach volleyball and stories in the volleyball world. Hosts Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter take listeners into the world of the AVP, FIVB, NORCECA, and any other professional beach volleyball outlets, digging deep into the lives of the players both on and off the court as well as all of the top influencers in the game.

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It’s a wonder how they’re not brothers, John Mayer and Billy Allen. Similar demeanors – calm, collected, neither too high nor too low. Similar styles of play – crafty, ball-control-oriented, hyper-efficient. Similar hobbies – reading, coaching, dadding.

Mayer thinks Allen has always been the better of the two. Allen thinks the same about Mayer. Any pandering to the crowd is done mostly in jest, Allen flexing after a float serve ace or a poke kill, though that’s more than Mayer will generally do. He might offer the slightest of smiles.

One of their chief similarities one might notice – and will inevitably notice if you listen to their podcast, Coach Your Brains Out – is the importance they place on mindset, emphasizing the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

“One thing I’ve learned is that we all have fixed mindsets and we don’t even realize we have fixed mindsets,” Mayer says on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “It’s really hard and the shift is never ending.”

And neither, it’s become evident, is their improvement.

Mayer, after making just three career AVP finals in his first 11 years on Tour – it should be noted that he also made a pair of Corona Wide Open finals in 2011 – made four in 2015 alone, winning in New Orleans with Ryan Doherty. It culminated in him being named AVP MVP.

Allen has seen a similar ascent. From 2004-2015, he failed to make a single AVP final, which set up a breakout pair of seasons in 2016 and ’17, winning his first career AVP in Seattle in 2016 with Theo Brunner and following it up the next year with Stafford Slick. His win with Slick was sandwiched between a pair of finals appearances, the first in New York, where he fell to Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb, and then San Francisco, where an injury limited Slick.

Allen and Mayer discuss their ascents, their shifts in mindsets and what their future looks like on SANDCAST.

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The 2018 beach volleyball season is, remarkably, upon us. In a way, at least. 

The FIVB kicked off the 2018 year in the very first week of the year, hosting an indoor beach tournament at The Hague, a four-star event to open the season, hauling in a variety of new partnerships and unfamiliar faces.

One of those new partnerships, of course, was that of April Ross and Alix Klineman, who took the longest road possible, battling through a pair of country quota matches, two more in the qualifier, and then running off six straight-set wins in the main draw to claim gold, beating Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado – another team that came out of the qualifier – in the finals.

“I’m going to be riding high on this win for awhile and this week in The Hague was a blast,” Ross wrote on Instagram afterwards. “Pretty excited or this journey.”

It was Klineman’s first international beach tournament, though far from her first time on a big stage, having played on both the Brazil and Italian indoor leagues.

As for the rest of the U.S. teams, though, it wasn’t quite the start to the year many would have desired.

Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes finished ninth, while Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross took a 17th and Lauren Fendrick and Karissa Cook finished 25th. The men didn’t fare much better, with the new partnership of Billy Allen and Ryan Doherty claiming the highest finish of American teams at ninth. Casey Patterson and Stafford Slick and Miles Evans and Billy Kolinske both finished 17th.

"It was definitely a little weird overall," said Trevor Crabb, who failed to make it out of the qualifier, on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. "Me and [Sean Rosenthal] pretty much decided we won't practice together before we left for the trip because I went back to Hawaii for the offseason and pre-season for six weeks, doing some training there, and I'm not exactly sure how much training he was doing. It was so early in the year, it's the end of off-season and beginning of pre-season, and it affected us for sure." 

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Much to the disappointment of the listeners of Coach Your Brains Out and SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter, there will be no Anchorman-esc battle between the two podcasts.

We’re now on the same team.

That’s right. VolleyballMag.com is now the distributor for both podcasts, which are as similar as they are different, both focusing on the same sport while diving into it in vastly dichotomous angles.

Coach Your Brains Out began as many podcasts do: A few friends with a similar interest, an iPhone, and a bit of editing know-how. John Mayer, Billy Allen and Nils Nielsen put an iPhone on a table and just talked about whatever volleyball and coaching topics came to mind. Allen would edit, they’d post, and, as they joke frequently on the show, maybe a few people would even listen.   

They enjoyed doing it. Soon, they realized more than a few actually enjoyed listening. The show expanded in every way a podcast could. The audience grew, the technology evolved from one iPhone to a few mics. Guests have been some of the top performers in their respective spaces, including the likes of volleyball legends Phil Dalhausser and Karch Kiraly, authors Joshua Medcalf and James Kerr, and coaches John Kessel and Tom Black, among dozens of others.

It isn’t just coaching they analyze, but traits and features of high performing individuals and teams, digging into the various recipes for greatness, both physiological and psychological.

“Around the time we were starting it we were turned on to ideas like Train Ugly’s website, a lot of ideas like motor learning and different ways to teach the game,” Allen said. “That was a lot of what sparked our first couple episode and we were fired up on that. Before we did the podcast it was fun to pick [John’s] brain and just talk, that kind of stuff, and now we’re still able to do that and get some great coaches from around the world too.”

“We try to find people striving for mastery in whatever they do,” Mayer added. “Whatever ways we can find to be our best.”

Coach Your Brains Out publishes on Thursdays, typically in 30-minute episodes. 

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