THINK of beach volleyball and you think of white, sandy beaches, scorching hot sun and exotic locations. Well, it’s not always like that, as Lynne Beattie will testify. Beattie is one half of Scotland’s top beach volleyball pairing and as you may have guessed, Scotland’s conditions are not always conducive to producing a world-class beach volleyball team. “We train on Portobello beach right through the year, pretty much whatever the weather,” she says.

“There’s not an indoor beach volleyball facility in Scotland so even in the winter, we train on Portobello beach. We have to have about 15 layers on and two pairs of socks because the sand is so cold but we just accept that’s what we have to do. There are bits of the sport that are glamorous but the Portobello bits definitely aren’t.”

Beattie and her partner, Mel Coutts, will play in the Continental Cup next weekend in what will be the latest stage in a journey which, they hope, will lead to Rio and the Olympic Games next summer. Beattie and Coutts have been drawn against Finland, Azerbaijan and hosts Greece and must finish in the top two in order to progress to the final round, which will take place next year and will award the ultimate winner with a spot at the Olympic Games.

So there is still a considerable amount of work to be done before the Scottish pair can begin thinking about appearing in Rio but 29-year-old Beattie is confident that the hours they have spent on Portobello beach while their rivals were training in far sunnier climes is paying off. “We’re feeling really good – we’ve been training hard all summer and we’re ready to go,” she says. “For us to qualify from the last round against some really good teams was massive and is probably the biggest thing that’s ever happened to beach volleyball in Scotland.

We’ve been playing the Volleyball England Beach Tour all summer so we’ve been up against their top teams and also some foreign teams so we’ve had constant competition. It’s going to be a really difficult task to qualify but there’s no reason why we can’t do it.”

Beattie’s ambitions belie the fact that she has only been playing beach volleyball for one year. She is not lacking pedigree however; the Scot is a seasoned indoor volleyball player having made 90 international appearances for Britain as well as captaining GB at the London Olympics.

So leaving indoor volleyball, in which Beattie excelled, seems a strange choice but she says she needed a change. “I’d got to a point in my indoor career where I was just playing – I was still enjoying it but I was really lacking a challenge,” she explains.

“There wasn’t a competitive outlet for indoor volleyball in Britain and the opportunity to play beach came up. I was at a point in my career when I could try and do this and I just threw myself at it. I have to admit though, I didn’t anticipate that it would be quite so difficult to transition. It was a little bit scary because I had this reputation as an indoor player and when I changed over there were days, especially at the start, when I felt like I was a complete beginner again.”

The differences between beach and indoor volleyball are significant. Most obvious is the different surface – sand compared to solid ground, while each beach team has two players whereas indoor has six. There is one area in which Beattie has noticed the biggest divergence though.

“The main difference I’ve found is the mental side,” she says. “In beach, you’ve got to be more focused because if you’re having a shocker, it’s just you and your partner there. There are no substitutes and no coaching during the match so you’ve really got to sort yourself out if you’re having a bad day. That’s a big challenge but I feel like I’m learning in every game I play.”

Beattie, whose day job is as a regional development officer at Scottish Volleyball, comes across as laidback and genial but somewhere in there she must possess the drive and focus which is a pre-requisite of captaining your country at an Olympic Games.

Her skills will be tested to the limit over the next year as she attempts to qualify for her second Olympics and she does not underestimate the magnitude of the task. But Beattie has a belief that she and Coutts can, against all the odds, be part of Team GB next summer.

“It would be massive if we could qualify for Rio,” she says. “There’s only a handful of volleyball players who have gone to an Olympics for both indoor and beach volleyball so it would be quite an achievement. London 2012 was an amazing experience and to be able to go to an Olympics in Rio, which is probably the beach volleyball capital of the world, would be unbelievable.”