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Year-round volleyball conditioning.

When scheduling around practice and games, high school and college volleyball coaches can run a convenient year-round conditioning program three times weekly during the off-season, twice a week during the pre-season, and once or twice a week in-season.


Each sport-specific session can be done on non-consecutive days to allow recovery, with the "menu" comprised of jumping, resistance-training exercises, balance drills, and muscular endurance.

The upper and lower body muscles and the important core muscles (abdomen, hips, legs, lower back) should be thoroughly worked on in each 30 to 45 minute session, with a minimal rest (30-45 seconds maximum) between exercises and three quick water breaks built into each workout.

The coach should have the athletes do at least half of the listed 20 exercises, including a general warm-up and cool-down with stretches after the completion of the exercises. No specific sequence is recommended.

It is a time-efficient program benefiting athletes and coaches, particularly in scheduling the sessions around the in-season practice and games. Nongrata are machine exercises that are scheduled around in-season practices and games, and machine exercises that have the athletes spending extra time loading pins or waiting for a machine in a crowded weight room.

The athletes can train in a group, performing a combination of resistance training exercises using their body weight or portable medicine balls, weight plates, or dumbbells.

Athletes can choose any exercise after their warm-up. At Hackettstown H.S. the volleyball conditioning program is called Tiger Volleyball Conditioning:

1. 3-minute warm-up (start with a minute jog in place followed by fast high steps (raising knees to waist level), fast butt kicks, then slow high steps and, slow butt kicks).

2. Side lunge and press out (at upper chest level) with a 5 lb. or 10 lb. plate or medicine ball. Do 5 lunges on one side, then 5 with the other leg.

From a standing position with the ball or plate close to the chest, quickly lunge laterally to one side, simultaneously pressing the plate or ball out.

The side lunge and press out at upper chest level mimics various volleyball-related lateral movements and overhead drills.

3. Squat and overhead press with plate. Squat to parallel with plate at shoulder level, pause two seconds at the bottom, then explosively rise and press the plate overhead. Repeat 10 times.

4. Jump squat as high as possible 10 times. Jump and touch ground with hand, then immediately jump again (no pause between jumps as soon as athlete lands). Jumping movements are pivotal in spiking during volleyball games.

5. One-legged cross rows with plate or dumbbell. With one foot off the floor, bring plate or dumbbell across opposite foot towards ankle for 8 reps, and then repeat with other foot. This is an excellent movement for volleyball players who have to reach across or dive for a ball to prevent it from hitting the ground.

6. Walking lunge and twist. Lunge forward and twist the plate, ball or dumbbell above the lunging leg in a sweeping motion. Repeat with the other lunging leg, advancing forward several feet. Repeat the movement by walk-lunging in reverse (lunge backward and twist the weight) for several feet.

7. After a brief water break, perform an exercise called the woodchopper and twist with a plate. Raise a plate, dumbbell or medicine ball above the head, then bend at the knees with back straight in a natural arch (no rounding of the back that will place too much stress on the lower back) and bring the object through both legs (almost like hiking a football), then stand up and hold the object with outstretched arms at chest level and twist from left to right. Repeat the movement 8 times.

8. Side chops to ankle. With weighted object above the head, lunge sideways while simultaneously bringing weight across the body to outer ankle. Swing the weight back to standing original position above head and repeat. Do 8 reps for one ankle, and then 8 side chops to the opposite ankle.

9. Mountain climbers/pushups. This is one of those muscular endurance movements that prepare you for a long, grueling volleyball match. Do the climbs and pushups non-stop. No rest break between exercises.

Get into a pushup position and quickly bring each leg forward. It's like climbing steps, only from a prone position. Repeat for 5 movements, and then perform 5 pushups. Then do 4 mountain climbs, 4 pushups, 3 climbs, 3 pushups, 2 of each, and 1 each.

10. Inch worms. This movement promotes greater flexibility in the hamstrings and hips. Get into a pushup position. With legs straight, tiptoe toward the hands, coming as close to the hands as your flexibility allows. The hips will be raised high at this point. Next, move the hands forward, inching out to the original pushup position. Repeat feet-to-hands movement a few times. Then reverse the process to the original starting line, bringing hands to the feet and then inching the feet out and continuing.

11. One-legged squats. A balancing move to enhance stability during volleyball. Hold the weight with outstretched arms either at chest level or above the head and squat on one leg 10 times. Repeat with the other leg. Try to squat at or near parallel and keep the other foot elevated without touching the ground.

12. Cross-reach to object on ground (to improve balance), Place a ball, plate, or dumbbell about 6 inches in front of the athlete. With one foot kept off the ground, try to touch the object with the opposite hand.

Hold for 2 seconds, then come back (foot remains elevated) and raise hand above head. Repeat 8 times, then switch legs and do 8 more reps with the other hand.

13. Wall squats. With back straight against a wall, squat against wall until legs are parallel. Hold position for 30 seconds, then stand up and repeat 3 to 5 times.

Wall squats, regular squats, jump squats, and lunges all strengthen quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles--the key muscles used in vertical jumps when the athlete is preparing to spike the ball.

14. After a water break, do leg kickbacks from a pushup position with both hands on the floor or on the sides of a medicine ball (more difficult version). Then bring one leg off the ground towards the hands and then kick it back and upward above the hips. Repeat 8 times, and then switch legs.

15. Lie on back with legs bent and hold a weight. Next bring the legs straight up above chest. Bring the weight (i.e. ball or plate) with arms extended behind the head and then raise it toward the feet as the shoulders are raised off the mat.

Come as high as flexibility allows toward the feet and hold the position for 5 seconds while tightening the abdominal muscles. Then lower both legs and shoulders to the mat and repeat 10 times. Strong abdominal and lower back muscles (core muscles) are vital in any sport.

16. Bicycle kicks/leg raises. While athlete lies on back, raise legs to chest level and pretend pedaling a bicycle for 30 seconds. Stop and lower legs halfway and back up 8 times and repeat bicycle pedaling or kicks for another 30 seconds.

17. Sometimes called windshield wipers, pendulums, or Russian twists. For the lower body: while supine, raise legs to chest level. Keep both legs straight and close together. With arms straight at sides, slowly swing legs laterally a few inches to one side, then the other. Lower legs halfway each side several times.

Advanced version: Hold a medicine ball between the ankles or knees while moving legs side to side.

For the upper body, keep either the feet raised straight above chest (advanced version) or with bent knees and feet on the floor while holding the weight with arms extended above the chest.

Slowly twist the upper body (shoulders, arms) to one side, bringing the object across the floor to the other side.

Repeat to the other side and perform it several times.

18. Squat thrusts/pushups. Same as mountain climbers/pushups using 5-4-3-2-1 rep format with no rest between exercises. With squat thrusts, while in a pushup position, quickly thrust both feet forward towards hands, and then kick legs back to pushup position. Do 5 squat thrusts, then 5 pushups, then 4, etc.

19. Seated ball or plate twists. While sitting on a mat, raise feet a few inches while holding a ball or plate a few inches from waist. Rapidly twist, bringing weighted object from side to side several times.

20. Planks or bridges. This is another core-strengthening movement. Get into a pushup position, hands on the floor (or holding sides of a medicine ball for advanced version). Keep back straight and abdominal muscles tight. Bend arms slightly and hold the position aiming for one minute.

Try not to let the lower back sag. It would prevent the core muscles from fully strengthening. As in all exercises, the athletes should breathe regularly.

The athletes should then get water, walk around a few minutes and cool down, performing both standing upper and lower body stretches or seated or supine stretches.

By Jim Carpentier, C.S.C.S.

Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Personal Trainer Morris Center YMCA, Cedar Knolls, NJ
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Title Annotation:VOLLEYBALL
Author:Carpentier, Jim
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Previous Article:High school and middle school athletics: now is the time!
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