Increase Your Vert for Volleyball With 3 Plyos | STACK

G.R. Hoff
- G.R. Hoff is the owner and head sports performance coach at Dungeon Strength & Conditioning in Shoreview, Minn. He specializes in helping young athletes using...

Increase Your Vert for Volleyball With 3 Plyos

December 12, 2012 | G.R. Hoff

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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.

Depth Drops or "Ninja Landings"

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.

  • Assume athletic position on 10- to 12-inch box or bench
  • Step off box or bench with both feet
  • Land softly in quarter-squat position; minimize noise with feet
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 8-10x3-4

Increase box height by four inches every two weeks until you reach 36-40 inches.

Box Jumps or Stair Jumps

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.

  • Assume athletic stance about an arm's length away from plyo box
  • Lower into quarter-squat, then explode through hips, knees and ankles to jump for maximum height
  • Land softly with bent knees on top of plyo box
  • Step down slowly
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 8-10x3-5

Depth Jumps to Box

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.

  • Assume athletic stance on edge of plyo box with box of same height about five feet in front
  • Hop forward off box and land softly on ground halfway to second box
  • Immediately explode up and onto second box
  • Land softly with bent knees
  • Slowly step off box and return to start
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 8-10x3-4

Check out this full off-season volleyball workout in STACK's Summer Training Guide.

G.R. Hoff
- G.R. Hoff is the owner and head sports performance coach at Dungeon Strength & Conditioning in Shoreview, Minn. He specializes in helping young athletes using...