Nov. 10, 2005
Volleyball is an explosive sport that incorporates all different types of movements in multiple planes of direction. In order to prepare the athlete for these types of movements, one must train that way. The term "sport specific" is used in describing these training methods. A combination of Olympic/Power lifts, strength lifts, supplemental lifts, plyometrics, core stability, agility, speed development and flexibility are all used in designing a well rounded volleyball specific workout program. To become the best volleyball player possible you must have strength, power, speed, agility and flexibility all working together in one fluid motion. Our primary goal here at the University of Miami - Strength and Conditioning is to keep the athlete injury free by working hand in hand with team doctors, athletic trainers as well as the coaching staff. We do this by designing a sport specific program that encompasses all of these methods of training. The purpose of this article is to give a general idea of what we do here at the University of Miami to help maximize the training of our Women's Volleyball team.
The first thing that needs to be done is Testing. We do this in order to see what deficiencies there are and in what area so we can determine the correct course of action to take in designing a program for that particular individual. The tests used are: Bench, Hang Clean, Squat, Pull-ups, Dips, Reach, Vertical jump (standing), Vertical jump (2 hands/block), Vertical jump (Max - with approach), T-Test, 300 yard shuttle, Abdominal test and Flexibility test. This might seem like a lot of things to test for but the more information that we can gather the more specific the workout programs can get for each individual athlete.
In my opinion, the most important types of training needed for a volleyball athlete are Power and Core Strength. The game of volleyball is highly explosive so one must train that way. Power involves the simultaneous reaction of the hips, knees and ankles while the abdominals and low back are used for support. The lifts we use to train for power are: Hang Cleans, Push Press/Jerks, High Pulls, Power Shrugs along with plyometrics depending on what part of the season we are in. These exercises include jumps, hops, bounds, etc.
Core Strength utilizes the hips, abdominals and low back. The ability to stabilize your body in different planes of direction is a major factor in the game of volleyball. These muscles are important to every phase of the game such as jumping, landing, diving, changing direction, hitting, passing, and controlling your body while in the air. Exercises that we do to strengthen this area are: Various floor abdominal routines, Medicine ball work, Rotational movements, Hyperextensions, Reverse hyperextensions, Supermans, Stability Ball exercises, etc.
In order to maximize your potential as a volleyball player you must have Strength. In order to move your body or body parts from point A to point B you must have the strength to do so. Whether you are going up for a kill or block, diving on the floor, or running down an errant pass you must have control of your body. Here at the University of Miami, we begin our training with functional strength also referred to as a physical fitness phase of training. This includes numerous body weight exercises that are performed in order to strengthen the muscles and tendons. It would be a big mistake to start training with weight if the ligaments and tendons can't support it. These exercises include: Push-ups, Power Push-ups, Power Line Push-ups, Push-ups with rotation, Body weight squats, Medicine Ball Squats, Stability Ball Squats, Pull-ups, Dips and lower back work mentioned above.
After a certain strength level has been achieved we then progress to exercises such as: Lower Body - Squats, Front Squats, Single Leg Squats, Safety Bar Squats, Step-ups and Lunges. Upper Body - Bench Press, Dumbbell Bench Press, Dumbbell Incline Bench Press, Lat Pull Down, Seated Rows, Bent Over Rows, Dumbbell Rows, Shoulder Press, Side lateral raises, Bent lateral raises and various tricep and bicep work. Techniques on these particular lifts are crucial so supervision is always needed.
Agility or the ability to change direction quickly has a vital role in determining a good volleyball team from a great team. You might have the best jumpers in the country but if they can't move from one spot on the court to the next, they are not that beneficial. At this level of play, there is not a lot of one and done. Most matches that are played encompass long rallies and scrambling around, not side out after side out. So in order to be a great team you must have the ability to change directions at any given movement. We work on this aspect of training using multiple cone drills, ladder drills, and reaction drills. We are lucky enough here at Miami to have access to a sand pit so we do this type of training on the court and in the sand.
The least emphasized component of training that is worked on is Speed. In the game of "team" volleyball there is not a lot of running. The running that is done is for short quick bursts usually to track down a ball. We spend some time on teaching running technique, stride length and frequency but the majority of the running we do is to maintain a level of fitness to carry us through out the long matches and the game five situations.
Flexibility is of great importance at the University of Miami. With all the work that is being done in the weight room and court the last thing you want is an injured player. Incorporating a flexibility routine into your program will not only decrease the chances of injury but will also serve as a good warm up / cool down and provide the body an opportunity to release lactic acid which will in turn decrease soreness levels.
The last component of training that is often not discussed in depth is what I like to call the "X - FACTOR" in college athletics: Nutrition! At this time almost everyone in college athletics has a strength coach that will be making them lift and run etc. but not everyone has the access to the knowledge of proper eating habits. The body needs the correct foods at the correct time in order to perform at an optimal level. The University of Miami has a licensed nutritionist that works with our athletic trainers and strength coaches in order for us to maintain one of the best, if not the best all around athletic programs in the country. In conclusion, I hope you found this article informative and interesting to read. I have tried to explain the general training principles that I use for the University of Miami Volleyball team. These training philosophies are what I feel work best in developing the athletic ability of every volleyball player out there with emphasis on the collegiate and professional player.