Volleyball is a physically intense sport - front row attackers can take up to 50 swings per match and close to 100 block jumps. Back row players spend the better part of the 2-3 hour match in a low, mobile defensive stance. With more than 30 matches in a high school season – and an infinite number of repetitions in practice – it’s important for players to recuperate in the off-season, avoid burnout and build strength to facilitate those repetitions all season long.
In the off-season, have players lift weight to build lean muscles and do plyometrics to increase vertical jump and explosive movements. These off-court exercises are vital to keeping players healthy and leveling up their game next season.
But how do you get from your last match of the season to the weight room? We have your answer in five steps.
1. Evaluate your players’ physical capabilities.
Your team’s first training day should be about understanding your baseline – this is also how you’ll measure growth throughout offseason. Understanding where individual players are regarding conditioning, agility and strength will help you better understand the areas to focus on improving this offseason.
2. Design workouts tailored to your returning players.
Successful offseason volleyball workouts help a player develop strength and technique, acting as a springboard for their development during season. Once you understand where your team is at – and what mix of strength/plyos will take them to the next level – it’s time to start designing your workouts and getting players in the gym. Players should focus on using the right form and technique during offseason training, to build muscle and avoid injuries during season. Give them goals to work toward that you check in with on a regular basis.
3. Get in the gym.
Each day in the gym should have a set schedule that includes time for stretching, warm up and cool down. Targeting specific muscle groups per day will drive the purpose of that workout, and help players feel results – those workouts should be focused on their position on the court and areas they need to improve on.
For instance, incorporate fingertip push-ups and seated medicine ball catch-and-release drills into your setter’s workout for wrist strength. For middle and outside hitters, plyometrics (such as ice skaters and box jumps) help them work on explosive lateral and vertical movement.
There are also a handful of agility drills that can help the entire team, like cone drills for heightened spatial awareness and movement. Create patterns with cones on a court for players to jump over, shuffle between, and sprint to.
Don’t forget to keep a careful eye on players’ form – if their form is off, make changes until they’re getting the basics right.
4. Track the team’s progress.
Have players track their improvements throughout the offseason by reporting back to you at predetermined checkpoints. Document individual performance for each test, and analyze gains to measure progress. Measure progress every two weeks, and adjust training according to areas the individual needs to improve on. If players are gaining strength but endurance has plateaued, add more cardio into their workouts schedule. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for overtraining – if players are maxing out in the gym, but results aren’t showing up on the tests, this increases the risk of injury.
5. Transition seamlessly into preseason.
When you get closer to preseason in August, the focus of training should be on specific volleyball movements, so that the endurance and strength gains from offseason training translate easily into volleyball activity. Consider heading to the court for cardio and plyometric workouts, so that players can translate speed, agility and form into game-like situations.
Strength and conditioning is vital to keeping players healthy and leveling up their game next season. Follow our five tips to get started building and implementing your program, and you’ll be ready to dominate in August.