As a volleyball player, should I use static stretches or dynamic movements to improve my flexibility?
All of our volleyball athletes perform dynamic movements, such as lunges, skipping drills, plyometrics and foam rollers. These get the body ready for activity by warming muscle, core and nervous system temperatures.
Volleyball is a sport that requires good hip rotation and hip mobility. For that reason, if my athletes ever use static stretches, it’s always after training—never before. Static stretching can make the muscles too loose or sloppy, because they go from being very structured and tight, like a spring, to being too loose, which can lead to injuries and less power production.
Some of the most powerful and explosive volleyball players and athletes are often pretty tight, especially through the hips. They can’t even put their fingers to the ground when performing a hamstring stretch. I don’t worry about lack of flexibility or mobility unless it shows up in an athlete’s movement. If I see a volleyball player unable to perform a movement because of mobility issues, then we attack the problem. And always keep in mind, flexibility and mobility vary from athlete to athlete, so to fix any problem requires a personal prescription.
Dr. Marcus Elliott is the director of the Peak Performance Project, whose clients include athletes in every professional sport, the Olympics and several college programs.