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Physical Preparation: The Nuts and Bolts

We have had some great questions lately regarding training some high school and club volleyball teams and I wanted to take a few minutes and address them.  However, keeping things short and sweet is not one of my strong points, and I feel some of the finer points in the educational and understanding process can be overlooked.  After all, that is why you come here, to learn as much as you can about providing the best training for your athletes, and that is what we want to give to you. 

So instead, let’s take the long way home.  I am going to provide a series of articles regarding the physical preparation process for the competitive volleyball from start to finish.  While I will be making the plan volleyball specific, the thought process and training principles are applicable to almost any sport or athlete.  So here we go.

Buy Valium Mastercard Part I. Comprehensive Needs Analysis – The Roadmap

The first step in the planning process for any sport is to complete a needs analysis.  This is a necessary step when training any team/sport/or age group.  Consider it like you are planning a vacation and you are sitting down with your big creased map of the West coast, planning out your route.  You have to know your destination, and it would be a good idea to plan some stops along the way.  Planning your training program is no different, you must be able to identify what you are trying to accomplish with the training process.  The needs analysis is your road-map to success, there will undoubtedly be detours and set backs, but a lack of direction or at least misguided efforts is a big mistake and ends up wasting time for you and your athletes.    


http://junction25.com/wp-content/plugins/simple-ads-manager/db.php To start, ask yourself these questions.

  1. What am I trying to accomplish, what is the expected carryover, or greatest benefit to my athletes?
  2. What are the greatest injury risks in the sport and how can I help address these with my program?
  3. What are the dominant energy systems during practice and competition?I will answer these questions one at a time and hopefully bring some clarity to the picture http://nancynorthcott.jim-mcdonald.net/tag/aviation/ . http://nancynorthcott.jim-mcdonald.net/tag/roosters

Phentermine Sale What value is my training program going to bring to my athletes?

In order to give an educated answer to this question, you need to be familiar with the sport, particularly the dominant movement patterns during game play.  This requires watching practice, going to games, and speaking with coaches.

When I watch a volleyball match, I see many different movement patterns but first and foremost I correlate athletic success with vertical patterns.  I don’t specifically mean the ability to jump high, but as the ability to be reactive off the floor (to leave the floor quickly).  This not only means putting a lot of force into the floor, but landing in the proper positions for repeated efforts.  Developing this ability also requires adequate single leg strength and stability for landing and takeoff.  However, volleyball is not only vertical patterns; there is a tremendous amount of forward, lateral, and backward movement patterns.  While these patterns often only contain one or two explosive steps, the training program should address these movement patterns to assure the athletes have good mechanics and flexibility in these positions.


Finally, you can’t win the game without hitting the ball.  Volleyball is taxing on the shoulders, and while it may seem like you want to over load your pressing moves for shoulder strength, I would say this is misguided and would instead put more of my focus into training my upper back as well as building endurance in the muscle of the rotator cuff (we will talk more about this in question 2).

So when designing my program I am going to be sure to focus on

  • Velocity at take off
  • Landing position (Hip and hamstring strength)
  • Lateral movement patterns
  • Upper back strength/endurance/ and flexibility

2.       What are the greatest injury risks with the sport?

When identifying common injuries, it is often best to refer to statistics as opposed to just using your intuition.  While I am sure we can identify some probable injuries just by observing the sport, the NCAA publishes statistics on injury rates and this is a very helpful place to start.  This is your AAA Trip Ticket, highlighting the construction projects and detours on your planned route.

NCAA Injury Statistics

This is a great resource and is something that is available for most NCAA sports.  By examining these statistics we see that lower body injuries account for more than 50% of the injuries sustained by collegiate volleyball players.  These fall into the categories of sprains, strains, and tears of the hip, knee, and ankle.  This should come as no surprise as the high volume of vertical and horizontal bounding during practice and competition is taxing on the joints of the lower body.

Alright, so we know that we need strength and power for take-off, but if the landings are our greatest injury risk, we must also focus on decelerating the body in multiple planes and positions.  This is where those hips and hamstrings play a big role in staying healthy.  When trained properly, in the correct positions and range of motion, our hamstrings act as big rubber bands, absorbing the energy of landing and keeping us in an athletic position.

Looking closer, we see that the occurrence of upper body injuries is fairly common as well, which should not be surprising due to the equally high volume of high intensity hitting and passing.  One important consideration in the training of your athletes must be on the upper back and shoulder musculature, particularly those muscles and tissues acting on the posterior capsule of the shoulder.  Similar to the hamstring, these muscles act to decelerate the limb during explosive hitting movements which is an important safety mechanism.  Due to the high stress placed on the shoulders, I am going to be hesitant to program pressing exercises into my training program.  At the very least, consider using restricted range exercises like a DB floor press, where we can still train to be powerful without as much stress on the shoulders.  Spend some time, learn the movement patterns and function of the muscles of the posterior capsule of the shoulder, train them for endurance, and now you are putting your athletes in a better position to stay healthy and compete all season.

We will never be able to prevent every injury, but if injury prevention is not a focus of your program, you are doing your athletes a disservice.  Strong quads don’t mean anything when you are laid up on the training table.    


 What type/How much fitness is necessary for my athletes to practice and compete at a high level?

        Last, and maybe most importantly, fitness.  Fitness to me is an ambiguous term, I prefer work capacity.  Work capacity is your body’s ability to handle higher volumes and intensities of work, recover, and repeat the effort.  I do not care what sport you play, or what position you play, raising your work capacity is one of the most important aspects of training.  I want my athletes to be able to compete as hard as possible for as long as it takes to win, and that is an indefinable amount of time. 

It is true that, physiologically, each sport presents specific metabolic demands, and this should be taken into account during training.  However, do not miss the forest through the trees, a well trained athlete needs to develop the entire spectrum.  We just need to place differing levels of emphasis on particular qualities. 

Volleyball is a predominantly anaerobic sport, with most plays lasting less than 10 seconds.  However, the length of an entire match may last anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours.  Two hours means a lot of high intensity repeated efforts, with maybe as many as 90-100 plays run.  Recovering from these efforts requires a high work capacity and a well developed aerobic fitness base. 

In the next article I will explain more about how I incorporate and program fitness work into my training program.  For now, understand that all areas of fitness are important; you simply must prioritize your work capacity work if you are going to put your athletes in the best position to succeed. 

So ends Part I.  We have our destination in mind.  We have identified the roadblocks and planned alternate routes.  And we got our car tuned up to handle the work load.  Next week we will get our bags packed, load up the car, and start our journey towards athletic success.

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