The Blog

The Blog

Off-Season Volleyball Training

By Ryan Rogers

Even though it’s “winter” here in California, that doesn’t mean it’s a chance to sit on the couch and relax until summer returns.  Now is the time to hit the gym and the beach to work on your strength and conditioning to improve your game.  The game of volleyball is a combination of power, strength, and endurance – so make sure you add aspects of all this into your training for optimal improvement.

First off, in order to make an impact on the court, you have to be on the court.  Injuries are an inevitable part of every sport, but if you work on your stabilizer muscles in addition to the prime movers, you will reduce the likelihood of an injury.  You also have to be able to stabilize your joints before you can produce power.  Your rotator cuff is comprised of four small muscles in the shoulder joint that add stability to shoulder movement.  The same is true to a certain extent in your hip joint.  There are small muscles that add stability to your lower body that, when strong, will make your jumping and moving in the sand that much better.  Here are a few of my favorite exercises you can use to train these muscles effectively (videos of all the exercises can be found at :

  1. Dumbbell Travoltas – stand with light dumbbells in your hands and raise your arms straight out to your sides and then bend your elbows up in the air at 90 degrees.  From this position, pinch your shoulder blades together, and then bring one hand down, keeping the arm bent, to your opposite hip, and then return it to the starting position along the same path.  Repeat this with the opposite hand.  Repeat this movement for 2-3 sets of 20-30 reps.
  2. Straight Arm Pushups – assume a correct pushup position on the ground with your arms straight and your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in a straight line.  With your elbows remaining straight, relax your shoulders and upper back so that your shoulder blades drop toward one another, and then push back up, moving your shoulder blades apart.  Your body will only move a few inches up and down during this movement.  Perform one set of 10 with your fingers pointing straight up, one set of 10 with your fingers pointing out (away from your body), and one set of 10 with your fingers pointing in (towards one another).
  3. Dirty Dogs – start off on your hands and knees, with knees under hips and hands under shoulders.  While keeping your hips and shoulders level, raise your left knee straight out to the side of your body.  Make sure to keep your knee and ankle at 90 degrees, and both of your elbows locked out.  Raise the leg as high as flexibility allows, and then bring it back to the starting position.  Do 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps per side.
  4. Lateral Band Walks – stand with a resistance band around your legs one inch above your knee joint (you can also stand on a resistance band, with it under the middle of both feet and holding the handles in each hand).  Bend your knees and hips slightly while keeping you head and chest up.  Keeping your feet parallel to each other, step laterally with one foot as far as you can, and then step the other foot the same direction until your feet are about eight inches apart.  Proceed, stepping laterally for 20 steps, and then come back 20 steps.  Do 1-3 sets in this way.

Another training tip I would give you is to get quality plyometrics into your training program.  The reason I said QUALITY plyometrics is because many people adhere to the more is better philosophy, and this is not ideal when training for explosiveness.  You also want to do your jump training at the beginning of your workout program when you are fresh and fatigue free.  It is best to do your plyometrics right after a good 5-10 minute warm-up and some dynamic stretching.  Another thing to keep in mind is to train not only for vertical height, but also get some lateral explosiveness in the mix.  And remember, if you play your game on the sand, do these exercises in the sand from time to time to get used to producing power where you will use it.  Here are a couple of the best exercises to improve your explosiveness:

  1. Medicine Ball Overhead Throws – stand with your feet hip width apart and hold a light medicine ball (6-12 lbs.) in both hands over your head.  In one quick movement, bring the ball down in front of your body with straight arms as you squat until the ball is about two feet off the ground and your thighs are parallel to the ground.  Then, explosively reverse this movement and jump into the air and release the medicine ball straight up into the air at the top of the jump.  Keep your eye on the ball and let it bounce and then catch the ball and start again.  Do 1-3 sets of 10 throws, resting in between each set long enough to stay fresh.
  2. Skater Plyos – start by leaning forward with your weight on your right foot and your left foot behind and to the outside of your right foot (similar position to a curtsey).  For balance, place your left hand on the ground in front of your body.  Explosively push with your right leg and drive your body laterally to the left as far as you can and land on your left foot, bending your leg to absorb the impact.  Your right foot should be behind and to the outside of your left leg, with your right hand on the ground in front of your body.  Immediately, push laterally to your right as far as you can and land in the starting position.  Perform 1-3 sets of 12-20 reps.

If you have pain with any of these exercises, stop immediately and have a doctor or physical therapist evaluate the problem before continuing.  If you have had any knee, hip, or shoulder problems in the past, ask your doctor if these exercises are appropriate for you before adding them to your workouts.

Ryan Rogers is a strength and conditioning specialist from Colorado Springs, Colorado. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science from Colorado State University and went on to get his Master’s Degree in biomechanics with an emphasis in sports performance from Ball State University. Ryan is currently certified through the NSCA as a strength and conditioning specialist, through USA Weightlifting as a level I club coach, and through EFI Sportsmedicine as a Gravity Instructor.

Similar Posts