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Vertical Jumping For Volleyball

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When many people watch a volleyball game, they are impressed by the powerful athletes who get up above the net and spike the ball with fury toward their opponent. Most people fail to see there are many components to making an efficient volleyball jump and how to prepare for it. Many will use a vertimax or other elastic band devices to help build jumping power, but are there other factors we should be looking at?

First, we need to address that most volleyball players don’t use a “Vertical Jump” in the game. A standard vertical jump would be standing still and usually employing a countermovement to accelerate the vertical motion. In volleyball, it is rare to see an athlete standing in position, but instead we usually see them take a step approach of 3-4 steps loading the hips and then going up toward the net. This is not to say vertical jump training isn't important to volleyball players, but we do need to acknowledge that a vertical jump and an approach jump are two different movements. The positive of acknowledging that these are separate movements is we can measure both a vertical jump and an approach jump, and design a plan for the athletes around what they need.  If an athlete has a low vertical, we could work on increasing their absolute strength and explosive power through exercises like squats, deadlifts, and loaded jumps on to a box. If an athlete isn't achieving a high approach jump, we could focus on more dynamic activities like box squats with accommodating resistance paired with depth jumps, hurdle jumps or other jump/med ball variations that are challenging the ground contact time and forcing the athlete to quickly reverse their movement.

Things to worry about prior to increasing vertical jump could be what is holding the athlete back from jumping higher or hitting harder. Think of it this way: if you were to put a bigger motor in your car, but had the same brakes, suspension and other support parts, would it be helpful? It would only lead to more issues created by the power output of the motor. The first thing we worry about with our volleyball players is their core stability. When many people hear the word “core” they think the rectus abdomens muscles that are highlighted by fitness models. When we say core stability, we are referencing the stomach muscles in 360 degrees, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Without having strength and proper firing patterns, it doesn't matter how high we jump because it will just be compounding dysfunctional movement.

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Here are some ab exercises we use with volleyball players:

Static:

  • Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Push Up Plank
  • Pallof Hold

Flexion:

  • Sit Up
  • Wide Leg Sit Up
  • V Up

Anti Rotation:

  • Pallof Hold
  • Pallof Press
  • Pallof Raise

Glute Exercises:

  • Glute Ham Bridge+Abduction w/Mini Band
  • Clams
  • Side Lying Hip Abduction Hold
  • Glute Ham Raise
  • Back Extension

Hamstring:

  • Reverse Hyper
  • RDL
  • Band Leg Curl
  • DB Leg Curl

 Cross Stabilization:

  • Bird Dogs
  • 1/2 kneeling Band Woodchop
  • 1/2 Kneeling Band Rotation

These are a few of the exercises that we will use either in warm up, commitments pre or post-workout, or at the end of a circuit in training. The reps, resistance, and difficulty level can all be scaled up or down based on level of preparedness of each individual athlete.

Once we have better core stability, we can now focus on landing mechanics. Most female ACL tears are non-contact because of the inability to sustain the landing (eccentric) force. Again, imagine you have a bigger motor, but the same size brake pads. It will only lead to bigger issues. Here is some simple landing drills we will work on with our volleyball players:

A1) Snap Downs 2-3 sets 3-5 reps 1-5 sec hold

A2) Snap Down into Vertical Jump- 2-3 sets 3-5 reps- 1-5 sec hold

A3) Rapid Vertical Jumps- 2-3 sets 3-5 reps-holding last landing 3-5 seconds

B1) Depth Landing 2-3 sets 3-5 reps 1-5 second hold

B2) Depth Landing into Vertical Jump 2-3 sets 3-5 reps 1-5 second hold

B3) Depth Jump into Box Jump 2-3 sets 3-5 reps 1-5 second hold

C1) Single Leg Snap Down 2-3 sets 2-4 reps 1-5 second hold

C2) Single Leg Snap Down Into Vertical Jump Double Leg Landing 2-3 sets 2-4 reps 1-5 sec hold

C3) Single Leg Snap Down Into Single Leg Landing 2-3 sets 2-4 reps 1-5 sec hold

We usually pick one of those series of landing drills and base the volume or intensity off the athletes we are working with. The more advanced athlete can handle more jumps, higher drops etc. Don’t force more of these once fatigue has set in and technique breakdown happens.

While we need to address the jumping ability of an athlete, we need to quit focusing on the vertical jump itself. We need a larger base for healthier athletes to jump off of (acceleration) and land onto (deceleration). Once that is established strength work on compound movements like squats and deadlifts (both in a dynamic and maximum effort fashion) complemented with jumps or medicine ball throws you will elicit a much larger positive response and have healthier athletes while doing so.

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Nick Showman

Showtime Strength & Performance

www.showtimestrength.com

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