Volleyball players must have a big vert. Jumping high helps you deliver ferocious spikes and be a defensive force on the court. And the best way to improve this skill is with plyometrics—but not everyone understands this type of exercise.
Technically, a true plyometric exercise is one that promotes the stretch-shortening cycle, as when you lower before a jump, then explode up. Your muscles store elastic energy and then release it in a powerful and explosive manner. A plyo doesn't have to be a jump, but it must include a stretch-shortening component. (Learn about the basics of plyometric exercises.)
There are a plethora of plyos out there, but I recommend the following three for taking your volleyball game to the next level. Start with the first drill and advance to the next two as you progress. Increase your volleyball vert by performing each plyo drill two times per week (except Depth Jumps to Box)—immediately following your dynamic warm-up.
Before you can increase the upward part of your jump, your muscles have to learn to absorb force. Many programs put athletes at risk by skipping force absorption training and moving right to Depth Jumps and other high-intensity exercises. This is like having a young athlete who can hardly perform a Bodyweight Squat attempt to squat hundreds of pounds.
Ninja Landings improve your ability to absorb and store force when landing. They will increase the amount of power you can generate during the upward phase of the jump, and also prevent injury.
Increase box height by four inches every two weeks until you reach 36-40 inches.
Once you can handle force absorption, it's time to get vertical. Box Jumps and Stair Jumps improve your ability to jump up while reducing landing impact. It's best to use a box that is only as high as your max jump performed with a perfect landing. Using a taller box can cause missed jumps, poor technique and bloody shins.
Now it's time to put both exercises together. This one teaches you to absorb force and then transfer it into an explosive upward movement. This is the quintessential plyometric exercise, which closely mimics how your muscles work during a game.
Check out this full off-season volleyball workout in STACK's Summer Training Guide.
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