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With men's volleyball coming up in the spring, now is the time to improve your jumping ability with vertical jump training. If you work hard in the next month or two, you could add anywhere from two to four inches to your vertical. (I've seen gains up to eight inches!)
To develop your vertical jump for volleyball, you must do two things: strength training and plyometrics. In this article, we will cover how you can strength train to improve your vertical jump.
Your strength training should be a total body workout program, featuring exercises that involve multiple joints. Specifically, you want to perform exercises involving a triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles—strengthening the muscle groups involved in jumping.
One of the best exercises for this is the Hang Clean. It will develop your fast twitch muscle fibers, which will improve your power and explosiveness off the floor. In fact, the movement of a Hang Clean mimics that of a vertical jump, helping to further improve your jumping ability.
The Hang Clean is an Olympic movement, and it must be performed with proper technique, or you could risk injury. Master the movement with a broomstick before you add weight. I advise you to get feedback from a strength coach to perfect your form.
Exercises to Improve Your Volleyball Vertical Leap
- Assume athletic stance holding bar just above knees with back flat, chest out and shoulders directly above bar
- Explosively extend hips, knees and ankles while simultaneously shrugging with straight arms
- Pull bar up, keeping it close to body
- Drop under bar and catch it across shoulders in athletic stance with knees slightly bent
- Return to start position and repeat for specified reps
The second exercise I recommend is Squats. Volleyball players typically use both feet to jump—a movement that the Squat closely resembles. It specifically strengthens the glutes and quads, two powerful muscle groups that propel you off the floor.
- Assume athletic position with bar on back and feet slightly wider than hip width
- Keeping chest up, core tight and knees behind toes, lower into squat position until tops of thighs are parallel to ground
- Drive up out of squat position
- Repeat for specified reps
After a set of Squats, immediately perform a set of Bodyweight Squat Jumps to maximize your power. This will also develop the endurance you need to last through an entire match. Make sure to rest two to four minutes before your next set of Squats.
Bodyweight Squat Jumps
- Begin with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and hands behind head
- Perform squat and explosively jump as high as possible
- Land softly in squat position and immediately perform again
- Repeat for specified reps
Starting eight weeks before your season, perform these exercises two to three times per week directly following your dynamic warm-up. Follow the progression below to maximize your vertical jump. In Part 2 of this series, I will focus on how to improve your vertical jump with plyometrics.
Photo: USA Volleyball/John Kessel
Adam Kessler is a speed coach. He has worked with state championship teams, as well as athletes in different sports, many of whom have competed in the NBA, NFL and overseas. His company, Fitness Planning Consultants, is based in Columbus, Ohio. He is also the founder of howtorunfasternow.com, a website that covers current trends in speed development, plus what professional athletes are doing to make themselves stronger and faster. Visit his site at facebook.com/adamkesslerfanpage.