Written By Dave
What should you do in the weight room for volleyball? There is such a range of exercises and different training techniques out there it’s hard to know where to start. Well here is one principle that will give you a starting point as far a weight training for volleyball goes. Do the opposite of what the players do on the court. Let me explain this.
Do the Opposite
I was listening to a strength training podcast the other day. This site, StrengthCoach Podcast has some very interesting information on strength and conditioning. There was an interview with a U.S. College strength and conditioning coach, and they were asking her what sort of things she was doing with her players inseason. She said she had been going to their trainings to get a good idea of what stresses their bodies were under from volleyball, and then basically trying to do the opposite in the gym.
Applying this principle to volleyball
For example, in volleyball training and games players spend a lot of time in a quarter squat position. Think of a middle blocker starting in a quarter squat stance ready to block a quick. The countermovement jump for spike and block is often only quarter squat depth. Defense, freeball reception, and serve reception is often only quarter squat depth. This puts a lot of stress on the quads. A quarter squat is a quad dominant movement.
To counter this in the gym, players were doing full range squats, making sure they were squatting all the way down. A lot of work was done on the posterior chain. The posterior chain is the muscles linking along your undercarriage, such as glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Basically because the quads are dominant during volleyball training, this is balanced out by trying to work the glutes and hamstrings more in the gym. This helps keep more balance between muscle groups which is key in preventing injuries.
What about the upper body?
The same is true for the upper body. In volleyball training players are spiking and serving the ball, which is working the internal rotators and anterior muscles of the shoulder (muscles at the front of the shoulder). Muscles such as the pecs and lats are two of the strongest internal rotators. To counter this in the gym players should have an emphasis on external rotation and the posterior muscles of the shoulder (the muscles behind the shoulder). These muscles work to decelerate the arm after a serve or spike and work to keep the shoulder in its socket.
But it isn’t specific to volleyball
The argument against this philosophy of doing the opposite movements to the sport, is that it doesn’t equate to great increases in power, and isn’t specific to the sport. Yes, a quarter squat may be a volleyball specific knee angle, but I see no harm in having strength through a full range of motion. Players can load up the bar and push a lot of weight, and while this has its place in a program, it is accentuating the quad dominance that already exists from playing volleyball. Same with the bench press, it plays an important role and improving your bench is likely to improve your spiking power, but you must balance this with exercises for opposing muscle groups, with lots of rowing exercises (seated row, dumbbell row etc). You can’t only perform sport specific movements in the weight room, that work to enhance the movement patterns of volleyball. You must work on the opposite movements and muscle groups in order to maintain some balance in the body and prevent injuries.
Most training methods and exercises have their place within a program. Keep in mind the stresses and imbalances that volleyball training can cause. A good starting point for equalising some of these imbalances is to do the opposite in the gym to what players to on the court.
Whilst one train of thought thinks that what you do in the gym should mimick as closely as possible what you do on the court, it is interesting to hear a strength and conditioning coach with the contrasting view, of doing the opposite. This ensures you maintain some balance between muscle groups helping you to stay injury free.