Key Volleyball Warm Up Drills

  • December 3, 2014
  • / By Tom

volleyball warm up drillsPhoto By: Battle Creek CVB

Properly preparing for a match or practice session is one of the most important parts of volleyball. The best volleyball warm up drills will prepare your players both physically and mentally to perform at their best.

The basic structure of a pre-match or pre-practice routine should be as follows:

  1. Jogging – The first activity should be anything that begins to warm up the body and increases blood flow to muscles. This doesn’t have to be jogging, but that is usually the best options for large groups, like you would see at a volleyball practice. You can substitute with anything else that works at your facilities. After jogging or the general warm up, sweating is a good sign that the athlete is getting ready.
  2. General Warm Up – This is next step, where you continue to prepare your body’s big muscles for volleyball movements. This mainly consists of dynamic stretching, things like high knees, arm swings, bodyweight squats, and leg swings. Dynamic stretching is recommended for warming up because it can improve performance in power based sports like volleyball and decrease injuries. This is different from static stretching, which is the classic reach-and-hold stretches.
  3. Specific Warm Up – This is the final step of the routine and it is where volleyball players begin to make the actual movements they will in the practice or match. These activities are performed at a lower intensity at first and then can become more intense as time passes and the athletes are ready. For practices, you can make these drills that you want to work on for that day. This makes practice more efficient, as they can work on volleyball skills as part of the warm up. By the end of this section, exercises should be performed at full speed and the athletes should be ready to go.

General Volleyball Warm Up Drills

Dynamic stretching is very important to get ready to play volleyball. It’s important to warm up all the major and minor muscle groups, with special emphasis placed on the most important volleyball muscles that will be used. Obviously, the lower body and core are important in volleyball, but the upper body shouldn’t be neglected.

Below will be a few examples of dynamic stretches, but these are by no means the only ones. You should perform several exercises, and at least 1 for all the major muscle groups.

Reverse Lunges

Reverse lunges are just like lunges, except you start the movement by stepping backwards with 1 foot rather than stepping forward. You can see a demonstration in the video below.

Arm Swings

Warming up the upper body is very important in volleyball. Many people will neglect it, because it doesn’t seem as important as warming up the quadriceps and hamstrings, but it is still important. You can see video of a basic arm swing below.

Squat Thrusts with Twists

This is a very useful exercise because it helps to warm up both the lower body and the core. The abdominals, lower back, and obliques are important in volleyball, because the core helps to stabilize and is also used in twisting movements.

Side Shuffle

The side shuffle is great, because it works on lateral movement, which can be difficult to target. The movement is similar to a defensive slide in basketball. It can be done at varying stride lengths to help target different muscles.

Specific Volleyball Warm Up Drills

These can be really any volleyball drills. If you have a specific theme for that day’s practice, let’s say setting, you could focus all of your drilling on that skill. You could then rotate drills each day. Alternatively, the team could break into groups, with each group performing a different drill or set of drills.

The best specific drills for volleyball are whatever you can get plenty of reps in quickly and that large groups of athletes can perform in limited space. It also helps if some kind of timing or competitive aspect can be added to the drill for days when motivation is low.

Repeat Setting Drill

This drill is great for getting a lot of reps in very quickly. By using the wall as a rebounder for setters, the ball bounces back quickly. You can also have several players performing this at once, because it doesn’t take much room up on the wall. You can get very specific at targeting areas on the wall to work on precision passing.

Serving Drill

Serving drills are a little trickier, because they can take up a little more time and space, but it is still an important skill that needs worked on. The drill in the video below shows an efficient way to perform a serving drill with a large group.

Blocking and Transition Drill

This drill is great because it works on blocking, hitting, and the transition in between. Working on multiple skills at once can really make the warm up be more efficient. It can take awhile to learn and set up, but once you get going you can make it pretty fast.


The structure of a warm up should be from easy to hard, or less intense to more intense. It should also go from less specific to more specific. This format is covered by beginning with an easy jog, moving on to the dynamic stretching portion, and finishing with specific drills. Your players shouldn’t perform explosive exercises until they are physically prepared to.

A proper warm up is also important for strength training in the weight room. Many teams lift right after practice, in which case a general warm up wouldn’t be necessary. In this case, you’d just need to do some specific exercises, such as performing a light set at whatever exercise you are doing before performing the working sets.

The best volleyball warm up drills will prepare your players to physically perform at their best and be mentally sharp. It will come down to testing to see what makes your athletes respond the best.

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