Getting stronger is important for any volleyball player as it can lead to improved performances on the court and decreased risk of injury. Strength helps create powerful, athletic players.
Why not just do regular volleyball exercises and avoid strength training? According to Timothy E. Hewett, PHd, “female athletes who participate in jumping and pivoting sports are 2 to 10 times more likely to sustain a knee ligament injury, such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, than male athletes participating in the same sports.” This is a shockingly high number and scary for underdeveloped athletes. Volleyball players do so much sprinting, jumping, and landing, all of which put different stresses on the lower body. Weight training can strengthen the area and train the muscles for absorbing force.
While the potential health benefits can make strength training worth it, the performance benefits are also exciting. Stronger athletes can run faster and jump higher. This is crucial in volleyball, when minor improvements in power can create a much better athlete.
What are the best kinds of strength exercise for volleyball? There are 3 main categories:
- Compound lifts – Think of things like the back squat, deadlift, and bench press. These work the bigger muscles in the body and are great for strength development. Olympic lifts, such as the clean and snatch, are great for overall power development.
- Plyometrics – For our purposes, we can call this jump training. Plyometrics such as depth jumps, box jumps, and jump squats are great for volleyball players because they mimic specific movements. These exercises are meant to be done explosively, with few reps, for maximum power development. When used properly in training, and combine with weight training, they can have terrific benefits for vertical jump ability and power output.
- Assistance work – This hits all the other areas of the body or specific weak spots. A strong upper body and core are crucial, for example, even though volleyball players do most of the work with their legs. The rest of the body provides structure and support when making athletic movements. A weak core can cause poor posture, which hinders every other movement.
Here are 5 great exercises for volleyball players
- Back Squats – Squats and all their variations are excellent all-around strength builders. There are many types of squats including back, front, box, and overhead. You can mix it up occasionally, but you’ll usually want to have a front or back squat of some kind in your program. These are great for lower body strength and stability of those muscles.
- Power Clean – The clean, snatch, and all their variations are some of the best power building exercises for volleyball players. While sometimes tricky to learn, they provide many benefits.
- Push Press – This isn’t just an upper body movement, as it also uses power from the lower body. This is good for a full body strength exercise. Imagine the time saved if you can combine a power exercise with an upper body strength lift.
- Jump Squats – This is one of the most common and simplest plyometric to learn. It is simply a squat followed by a jump. This can be done with no resistance or with added weights such as dumbbells, or even barbells for athletes who are strong enough. This is a great exercise for volleyball players because it is so specific to the jumping ability needed.
- Kettlebell Swings – These are awesome for developing strength and stability in the lower body and core. They are particularly good for the lower back. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of athletes whose technique has fallen apart late in a match because their upper body is hunched from a weak core. Core weaknesses leads to poor posture and inefficient movements.
While these 5 exercises all can have tremendous benefits, it is important to have variety in your training. For instance, power snatches can be done in place of power cleans, and box jumps can be done in place of jump squats. Variety can help the athlete continue to progress as they are provided with a new stimulus.
Remember to be cautious when introducing strength training exercises to inexperienced volleyball players. It will be a shock to the body if they are doing things they haven’t done before. Make sure each session starts with a proper warm-up and the athlete is monitored by a qualified professional.