I’m a volleyball player. I’m also a Certified Strength Coach(CSCS) and I like to lift heavy weights. There is still a stigma in the volleyball community that these two activities don't normally go together. I’m here today to talk about how they can co-exist and help volleyball players get to the next level in their play.
I started lifting weights seriously in college, while playing for a top level College Club Team (Volleyball is still growing in the NCAA space). Proper weight lifting helped me be able to compete with the taller, stronger players around the country I had to go up against.
The game of volleyball is an explosive game. It requires big jumps to block, an aggressive approach to attack and quick reactions in the back court on defense. Strength training happens to train your body and muscles in the same manner. Strength is defined by “the maximal force that a muscle or muscle group can generate at a specified velocity”* . Power is defined as “time rate of doing work”*. By this conclusion, explosive movements on the volleyball court are generated by increasing power. Power comes from strength and the stronger you are the more powerful you are. By strength training, this translates to a higher blocking jump, higher approach and an even quicker “push-off” to go get a ball on defense. The ability to generate power in a fast motion is what people refer to as “quickness”.
Now, how does strength training really transfer to the court? Let’s take a squat - one of the first exercise people think of when they think of training for volleyball (I’d argue it’s the deadlift that gets you higher off the ground but that’s another article topic). Getting stronger through a Goblet Dumbbell Squat (see the video below) will teach your body to transform power to be used on the court.
The heavier the dumbbell, the more your body has to create drive downward into the ground to finish the squat motion. The stronger you get, the more “power” you can push down into the ground to lift your body (plus the dumbbell) up to the end position. This new “power” drive can now translate into a higher vertical jump and, even more importantly, a more efficient jump. You will be able to jump more times without tiring due to your increase in strength. Strength is what makes you able to last and keep jumping as high during the 3rd, 4th, 5th sets, not “cardio” or conditioning.
The next volleyball and strength blog will focus on the best bang for your buck exercises to increase your vertical.
* Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning