5 Exercises to Become a Better Volleyball Player
Volleyball is a popular sport that can definitely test your agility and strength. It’s also a full-body workout that calls on your legs, arms, shoulders and core muscles to complete many of its key movements.
Though the summer is a popular time for volleyball, athletes in the sport work year-round to stay on top of their game. If you’re a regular player — or even if you only play every so often — there are simple but effective ways to improve your volleyball skills. To get started, try these five powerful exercises that’ll help you become a better volleyball player on the court.
Having an explosive jump is vital in volleyball. Working on broad jumps can improve your hitting power and direction and make it harder for your opponent to defend against your hits. The exercise could also mean less shoulder and back strain because it trains your body to rely on your legs, not only your upper body, to generate much of your jumping power.
To develop your broad jump, get situated in a space that provides plenty of room to jump forward. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Your arms should be positioned at the side of your body. Keeping your feet parallel, carefully squat down and then jump forward as far as you can, swinging your arms for momentum. Both of your feet should hit the ground at the same time.
Repeat this exercise 10 times for a set, performing four to six sets for maximum effect. Developing your broad jump can help make you a better overall player on the court.
Developing a stronger core (your body’s midsection) can make a world of difference in your performance as a volleyball player, particularly with blocking, passing and attacking. “The more you develop your core, the stronger you’ll be with all volleyball movements, especially those when your arms and hands are outside of your body line,” says pro beach volleyball player John Hyden. A strong core also helps to protect your back and spine — spots many players end up injuring.
Planks are a simple but powerful exercise to strengthen your core. Begin in a push-up position, facing forward, with your elbows at 90-degree angles and your forearms touching the floor. Make sure to keep your head, back and legs in a straight line rather than raising your body too high in the air. That way, the plank actually works your muscles. Hold the plank for at least 30 to 45 seconds.
If you need to make the workout a little easier, you can remain on your knees. If you need more of a challenge, increase the length of time you hold the plank or lift one leg up during the plank.
Lateral Shoulder Lift-to-Press
Volleyball players are prone to shoulder injuries due to arm swings when attacking and serving the ball. Targeting your shoulders during a workout can help to lessen or prevent the likelihood of developing those injuries. One effective shoulder exercise to try is the lateral shoulder lift-to-press. You’ll need a set of dumbbells for this.
Using low-weight dumbbells, start with your arms slightly bent and lift both weights until your elbows are even with your shoulders. Then, move your arms from a vertical position into a lateral one with your fists upright towards the ceiling. Push the dumbbells into the air and then reverse the motion, bringing your arms back to the position where you first started. Be cautious of your form throughout this exercise. Regularly doing three sets of 10 repetitions will help strengthen your shoulders over time.
Again, being able to jump is highly beneficial when playing volleyball, whether you’re on offense or defense on the court. Developing that agility is key, and ski jumps are another great exercise that can help. With ski jumps, you want to give yourself plenty of room — you might even head to a field or a court with a line to jump over or use some kind of marker to track your progress.
Start by standing on the balls of your feet with both feet touching. Carefully (but powerfully) jump from side to side over your line or marker while keeping your feet together. You can, again, use your arms for momentum, pulling them back as you jump from side to side. This creates the illusion that you’re skiing down slopes — hence the name of the workout.
For more of a challenge, you can also jump forwards and backwards or jump on one foot. You can start off with three sets of 15 repetitions and work your way up to doing more — you might even challenge yourself to see how many you can complete in one minute.
Completing full burpees can be tough, but it’s worth doing if you’re a volleyball player. This workout is one that strengthens your legs, core, arms and chest muscles. “Even though I hate them, burpees are one of the greatest full-body workouts. You’ll be breathing hard in no time, and working almost every muscle in your body,” 2012 volleyball Olympian April Ross shared with Men’s Health.
To do a burpee, start by standing upright and then drop your body into a squat. Put your hands on the floor and quickly kick your legs out behind you until you’re in a plank position. You can either bring your legs back up together in that motion or do a push-up beforehand. Then, spring up into a jump. Repeat the entire sequence without stopping. Aim to get to the point where you can do five sets of 10 repetitions. If doing burpees becomes easy for you, increase your reps per set.