Gabrielle Reece: Volleyball Icon

(AP Photo / Kirkland)

From her stint as a dominating blocker at Florida State University to her success as a professional model/actress, Gabrielle Reece transcended the sport of volleyball to become one of the most recognizable athletes in the world.

We spoke with her recently at the 2009 Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Expo to get her thoughts on the art of blocking and what it's like transitioning from the indoor game to the outdoor game.

Though she enjoys sharing her views on nutrition and fitness in her new role as spokeswoman for Simply Nutrilite, it's clear from just one question on blocking technique that volleyball is still her first love.

What's the secret to being a good blocker?
A good blocker is prepared to move, knowing what's going on but still being ready to react. It's about anticipating where the ball is going to go but not moving until it's time. If you get caught going the wrong direction it's hard to correct, because a good setter is watching the middle.

What physical skills does a good blocker need?
Lateral quickness and patience. On the beach a great blocker also has to be able to turn and pick up all the small shots.

Is it hard to transition from indoor to beach?
Yes, there are very few players that can transition smoothly if they have never played beach volleyball before. Kerry Walsh is one of few players who transitioned quickly, but a lot of the good beach players started out as beach players.

What makes the transition so difficult?
You're dealing with elements: the sun, the sand, wind, a lot more court to cover, negative surface. Beach also requires a lot more from your core.

I always say that if you are a passionate indoor player you should play outdoors when you get the opportunity. Because it strengthens you without putting as much impact on your body, and it's good for cross-training.

How does the outdoor game help with cross-training?
You can't get away with the same moves on the beach that you can do with the indoor game, so it teaches you different ways to play.

Sand also makes it more difficult to move, which helps improve your strength. The toes, feet and ankles articulate more and it's easier on the knees and back than the hard indoor court.

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