STACK's 8-Week Workout, developed with Premier Volleyball Academy, will refine your training and your game.
What to do: Build jumping power, agility and athleticism.
1. Jumping Power for Slaps and Slams. The need for explosive power, whether for a jump serve, block or spike, is fundamental. Working to gradually develop this power during the off-season, using a plyometric or jump training program with a proper progression, can produce tremendous results. Xplosive Edge strength and conditioning coach Gibbie Duval, of Omaha, Neb., prescribes explosive and multi joint movements as well as Olympic weightlifting variations to improve power output. He says, "Multiple joint exercises will improve coordination while improving your ability to apply explosive power against the ground."
2. Mobility in Small Spaces. In a fast-paced game, with the ball moving at high speeds, volleyball players must have the ability to quickly react and move to the right position to make the play. "We want to be as quick as possible with our first three steps in volleyball," says Jamie Yanchar, a former strength coach for the USC women's volleyball team (now on the strength staff of the Seattle Seahawks). "Our main thing is improving how quickly we react and how much ground we can cover with those three steps." Agility, quickness, reaction and speed drills are must-haves for any summer volleyball program.
3. Ability to Change Levels of Play and Center of Mass Control. With the need to play above the net one second and on the floor the next, you must have good biomotor skills—body control, flexibility and mobility. You must also be able to deliver power out of a variety of positions and at different heights to generate the force and speed needed, whether you're over the net or on the ground. Patrick Borkowski, former strength and conditioning coach for the U.S. Women's Volleyball team, suggests, "Keep your weight on the balls of your feet with a bend in the knees and your hips rotated back. Maintain a tight lower back and loose shoulders with your arms in front, read to make a play."
4. Repeat Power. Volleyball players don't have the luxury of training to improve their one-jump or one-hit ability. For success, they must be able to rapidly repeat those actions, each time generating the same force and velocity to produce the same level of power. Strength coach Devan McConnell of Stanford University explains how he trains for repeat power: "The ability to create force (into the ground) sets apart the great from the good," he says. "Plyometrics are a great tool to increase that ability, because it teaches the body to rapidly put force into the ground, resulting in a quicker, more powerful movement, whether vertical, lateral, forward or backward."
What to Avoid:
1. Improper Landing Mechanics. Though it sounds simple, properly landing after a powerful jump takes practice. Improper landing causes the majority of non contact knee injuries, so perfecting this skill is vital. Athletes who've learned how to properly land and completed a targeted strength-training program see a decrease of 88 percent in non-contact knee injuries. Always land with your knees slightly bent and behind your toes. Do not allow them to cave inward.
2. Going Faster Than You Can Control. When volleyball players work on agility and change of direction—including acceleration, deceleration, stopping, starting and changing body position in space — they can only go as fast as they can produce force (taking off) and absorb force (slowing down). When you move so fast that you can't control stopping or slowing down, you expose yourself to injury. As you build strength and power, you must also build stability, balance and coordination.
3. Tight Hips and Back. Most athletes are tight in the hip flexors and lower back because they sit so much—in vehicles, at school, in front of the TV. But for volleyball players the stakes are higher. Tight hips and back can hinder your ability to squat or get set in athletic positions that allow you to complete plays. Working to improve hip and back stability, mobility, strength, power and quickness will help in all aspects of the game. Anthony Slater, general manager and director of performance at Core Performance Center (Los Angeles), understands the need for mobility in the hip joints. He says, "Working to stop and reaccelerate puts a huge stress on the groin and hip flexors." Maintaining long and warm hip flexors, groin and back can boost your performance and reduce the chance of injury.
Jodi Schramm Owner/Director and Coach Premier Volleyball Academy
As the head of Premier Volleyball Academy and in her prior 16 years of collegiate- level coaching, Schramm has helped develop more than 230 scholarship athletes and several All-Americans. Under her leadership, the Academy, one of the top three recruiting clubs in the country, won the U.S. National championship in 2004 and is expected to seriously contend for the title again this year. This year's graduates have all received college scholarships. Schramm is certifi ed as a coach and as an official by the United States Volleyball Association.
How It Helps
Premier Academy's Philosophy
The slogan "Teaching Excellence, Inspiring Greatness" forms the basis for the workout philosophy at Premier. The Academy stresses hard work and training, and speaks out against those who promote quick fixes in sports.
Premier's program, which was modeled on the University of Nebraska's, features a complete conditioning routine, an assortment of exercise progressions and a focus on injury prevention.
The strength training program does not incorporate a lot of running. It's built on the specific movement patterns needed for volleyball and the right type of conditioning for quick, explosive movement, from the first serve to the last. Premier implements this philosophy with hard physical training and intense mental preparation, using both team activities and practices and one-on-one sessions. With five phases of training and conditioning in seven months, the ladies have a chance to move up, or down, based on their performance and ability to meet the strict requirements. This process helps each athlete reach the highest level of mental strength and physical ability.