School’s out. Time to get a job, socialize, hit the beach, or do anything else to take your mind off the monotony of the school year. If that’s your summer philosophy, you’ve got a problem. Those are the priorities of an Average Joe, not a STACK Athlete.
Summer is your time to improve.
And you’re lucky—we’ve done the research for you, so you’ll know exactly what and how you should be training during your time off. All you need is to muster up the motivation to get it done. For advice and a training plan, we hit up Chip Harrison and Kirk Adams, head and assistant strength and conditioning coaches, respectively, of Penn State volleyball, the three-time defending national champs.
Harrison and Adams have helped produce dozens of elite athletes, two NCAA titles and 10 Big Ten wins for the Nittany Lions. Needless to say, they understand the advantages of summer training. “The summer is absolutely a wonderful time to be training, because you have a lot less to worry about, so you can focus on training,” Harrison says. “The other thing, particular to sports like volleyball, is that summer training is crucial because you start your season when school begins.”
Harrison points out that just because you know you need to train doesn’t mean you know how to do it right. He says, “The summer presents two types of athletes: those who do too much and those who don’t do enough. You need to find the right balance.”
To help you find that balance, the two coaches created an eight-week plan, specifically designed to prepare high school volleyball players as they head into the season. “This eight-week workout is to get you as prepared as you can be for the season,” Adams says.
The plan centers on increasing your power in a feasible way. “To get a high school athlete to go through five or six days a week of training for eight weeks can be hard,” Adams says. “So we tailored it down to four [days].” Harrison adds, “If you’re taking care of other aspects of training, like recovery and nutrition, you should improve both your upper- and lower-body strength.”
Throughout the summer, as you dedicate yourself to improving, make sure you don’t do too much. Otherwise, your body will be tired when the season starts, and you won’t be able to display your skills for the varsity coach, college scouts or your archrivals. Adams says, “The chart is designed so that Weeks 1 through 3 and 5 through 7 are build-up weeks, and Weeks 4 and 8 are down weeks. Having your eighth week as a down week is important, because it is right before preseason. You need recovery before stressful camp practices start.”
To help you hit new heights at the net, Harrison and Adams have also compiled an eight-week Jump Training Plan, which coincides with and complements their strength plan, Weeks 4 and 8 being down weeks. “It’s absolutely imperative to incorporate jump training when you’re weight training,” Adams says. Using both schedules throughout the summer will make you an explosive powerhouse.
Both coaches stress the importance of training like you play and with proper technique. “You need to train the way you play the game,” Adams says, “and volleyball incorporates explosive and vertical movements.”
Harrison advises, “[During your jump training], keep your landings soft and jumps quick. Aim for every jump to be a quality jump, including how you impact the ground.”
If you think you’re ready to follow the Nittany Lions’ path to greatness, follow Harrison’s and Adams’ eight week training plan. It takes dedication, but nobody said being great was easy. Just ask the defending national champs.