Warming up for volleyball used to be so simple. Jog a few laps, stretch for a bit, or vice versa, then get into it. This is definitely not the ideal warm up. Research has shown that static stretching can reduce the amount of power and force the stretched muscles can generate. This is discussed in the post Static Stretching in the Warm Up.
So if static stretching is not the way to go, then what is the best way to warm up for a game or training? The answer is a dynamic warm up.
What is a dynamic warm up?
A dynamic warm up is a series of movement drills and mobility drills performed in a sequence, designed to prepare athletes for training or games.
A dynamic warm up can be structured in different ways, and there is a huge variety of drills and exercises that can be used, so there is right or wrong way to do it.
It will typically start with a light cardiovascular warm up, such as jogging or skipping and various running variations like backwards jogging, sidesteps, ground touches and so forth. Some dynamic flexibility usually follows with exercises such as leg swings, arm swings, inchworms, backrolls etc. Sprint drills and agility drills are also common in a dynamic warm up and of course there is some room for some volleyball specific defensive moves, dives, and spike approaches.
Some jump work should also be done with some hopscotch drills, or line drills. These are basically small jumps building up to bigger jumps that you will do in training or games.
Defining the terms
A dynamic warm up can also go by the name of active warm up. Some coaches call it athletic movement training, or movement preparation. They all mean the same thing.
The other term you will hear in the same sentence as dynamic warm up is mobility or dynamic mobility. Mobility is the range of motion your joints can go through when your own muscles are doing the work. An example of a dynamic mobility exercise is a leg swing, where you are taking your hip through a range of motion and stretching the surrounding muscles but you are using the momentum of the leg and work from other muscles to get this stretching effect.
Benefits of a dynamic warm up
There are many benefits of a dynamic warm up.
- Decreased risk of muscle strains and tears.
- Increases range of motion for the upcoming training.
- Fires up the nervous system, making it ready for rapid neural firing.
- Increases body temperature, and it is maintained because there is no prolonged period of static stretching.
- Enhances coordination and motor ability (some footwork drills that will get you moving more effectively once mastered).
- Some conditioning benefits. Lots of lunges and squats and similar movement that have a conditioning effect.
- Mentally gets players involved in training, as there is no sitting around doing static stretches for prolonged periods.
The best way to understand the exercises is to see them. Check out this you tube clip. This is just one example, have a look here for some more examples.
Here is another link with a few exercises you can check out here.
Finally one more link to some video on Mike Boyle’s website.
Applying the dynamic warm up
As with a lot of the principles and concepts in strength and conditioning, the key is how you apply it. There is no particular warm up that is the best warm up for volleyball, and you should vary the warm up according to the situation, your needs, and what you want to get out of it.
In some trainings there may be a focus on getting some aerobic conditioning out of the warm up. In this instance drills could be done continuously. A warm up in 40 degree heat will be different to one in normal conditions, the warm up in a tournament situation may be different to the warm up for a single game. Manipulating exercise selection, duration and the intensity of the warm up can ensure different needs are met in each situation.
Hopefully this gives you some general information on dynamic warm ups. Keep an eye out for an actual sample of a dynamic warm up for volleyball coming at some stage. In the meantime, this post should give you an idea of some of the things you should be doing in a dynamic warm up.