Vertical Jump

Volleyball Performance Training: The Other Skillz

Following the loose theme we've had this month of volleyball training (but really, let's be honest, all of this can apply to most sports), I thought it would be beneficial to highlight a few other athletic skills/movements that are woefully under-trained in volleyball players. It's all about the vertical!

But not really.

It drives me nutso that coaches and parents and the players focus singularly on improving the vertical jump. Yes, it's important, but how does one get to the net to jump? How does one move fast enough to get behind the ball to pass it well?

I've worked with dozens and dozens of volleyball players and I've seen terrible movement quality all the other planes of motion. Great volleyball players are more than their vertical jump heights! (tweet that) I've listed a handful of movements that would behoove any volleyball player, and coaches, to implement in a regular training rotation.

Side Shuffle

I can, without exaggeration, tell you that I've seen volleyball players side shuffle with the grace of a new-born giraffe. How in the world can a volleyball player move around the court while keeping their eyes on the game, without side shuffling? Answer: Not possible. Side shuffling is the most efficient and most strategic way to move around the court.

Transitional Movements

Above are just a few examples of transitional movement drills. Along with side shuffling, there are times when players need to sprint forward or backpedal quickly and then run in a completely different direction. The ability to change directions rapidly is essential in volleyball, especially if there's a wild pass or tip off the net.

Heidens

Yes, I know volleyball consists of jumping up and down, and not side-to-side, but reinforcing lateral movements is a boon for volleyball. Heidens also teach force absorption and production in the frontal (lateral) plane. Most of volleyball consists of lateral movements, so if a player is strong side-to-side, not only will it reduce injury risk but she will be more confident moving sideways and will thus do it more.

Rolls

There are a lot of opportunities to dive, roll, and fall on the ground in volleyball. Learning how to do so safely is imperative. Learning how to pop back up again after a quick "hello" to the floor is vital for scoring points. Because rolling and tumbling is not a part of our everyday lives (at least, most of us) the vestibular system might be a bit slow in re-orienting. However, if you train rolls, you're also training the vestibular system and strengthening its ability to readjust quickly.

Add these into your training arsenal and there will be a guaranteed bump in performance.

5 Tips for the Vertical Jump

As mentioned a bunch of times by now, our theme for this month on the blog is Training for Overhead Athletes. The holy grail of performance indicators for volleyball players is, without doubt, the VERTICAL JUMP and with good reason, the sport is won or lost in the air, so an athlete will clearly have the advantage the longer they can stay in the air to execute their portion of the play. Stevo did a great job talking about the pros and cons of the vertical jump as a test itself back in January 2012. You should check it out.

Now, if you read that post, you will clearly understand the limits of the test, but you may still be wondering "Okay, okay, Stevo... I get it. But can you PLEASE give me some tips on how to jump higher. I promise I won't vert test every day, nor will I ever allow my knees to cave!" Okay, since you've promised not to break the golden rules, I'll go ahead and give you my top 5 for improving your vertical jump. Please note, they are in order of basic to advanced:

  1. Get Stronger - you're entire body needs to be stronger to jump higher, but obviously some heavy emphasis on the lower body is required. And, NO, it's NOT your calf training routine that will make the difference. Think hips and hamstrings. You can pretty much read any other post on this site to learn how to do that.
  2. Try - yes, I'm throwing this out there: to jump higher, you must commit to doing so and that involves actually trying to achieve #1. Focus on it, embrace it, and it will happen.
  3. Practice Jumping Variations - Not just vertical jumping, but jumping in all planes of motion with as many variances as you can think of. And, for the love of your joints, please don't execute these with poor form and at 100% intensity/effort. You must be smart and your body will get much more from refining and perfecting technique than from being a hard-headed fool.
  4. Short Sprints - running is a plyometric activity, so add in some very short, high-intensity sprints.
  5. Consider Re-Working your Genetics - this is the "advanced" tip... what do I mean? At some point, you may need to acknowledge that your vertical jump dreams may not be achieved in 12-weeks and sadly (believe me, I know from personal experience) there's no amount of training that will fix the genes you were dealt. Once you realize it will be a tough road, go ahead and start back at #1.