If you look at summer as a chance to lounge poolside sipping lemonade, texting uncontrollably and getting a Hollywood tan, you have the wrong recipe for becoming a dominating volleyball player—and you should stop reading. But if you’re willing to commit your summer to using the following info, you’ll take your game higher than the season’s temperature.
Thanks to Jim Liston, founder and president of CATZ [Competitive Athlete Training Zone], STACK presents an eight-week training plan to boost all aspects of your game—whether you’re male or female. Since 2006, CATZ has been the official sports performance and physical therapy provider to the USA Men’s National Volleyball Team, which won gold for the first time in 20 years at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Also preparing for the 2008 Games at CATZ was Misty May, who scored gold in the women’s beach volleyball competition.
CATZ’s clientele, which also includes high school ballers, makes Liston the perfect provider of a no-nonsense summer training plan. He understands what young volleyball players crave training-wise to reach Olympic standards. “Summer is an opportune time to advance your athleticism, your agility, your jumping ability and your entire athletic development,” Liston says, “because you have a lot more time than you do during the school year.”
He warns, however, that you can’t expect to become an athletic freak just by working out during time away from the schoolyard. You have to look at the big picture and understand that training helps build a base to advance you athletically throughout your career. “High school kids are still growing, and it’s important to develop a foundation,” Liston says. “I think their biggest mistake is misunderstanding the word ‘development.’ Development doesn’t mean three months or one year; it’s the lifetime of an athlete. And if a kid is serious about playing in college, there has to be a sense of patience with training, and the kids and coaches need to look at it long term.”
Patience is difficult for some athletes when it comes to training. Stay focused by reminding yourself that you’re on a journey, and do not expect instant gratification. Both thoughts will go a long way to helping you reach your training goals. “You need patience and perseverance to be successful, and too often it’s train hard and not smart. That will cause you problems,” Liston says.
This summer plan won’t morph you into Misty May or Tom Lloyd, but it will develop a rock-solid foundation for you to build on for years to come.
Liston: It’s all about total development and less about isolation. Since the demands of the sport involve a lot of hitting and jumping, we don’t want to incorporate too much of those things into the program, [because that] would make them vulnerable to overuse injuries. We see a lot of kids with knee, low back and shoulder problems; this plan strengthens and adds mobility in those areas. You also get some agility work in there, because you need the ability to react and change direction quickly to get in position to make plays on the ball. This program is both safe and effective.
Liston: [Athletes who do this training plan] will jump higher, be less prone to injury, quicker and stronger, and more powerful, mobile and flexible.
Liston: Typically, you work on volleyball skills a couple of days a week, so this plan should be performed on the two days of the week you’re not practicing. In no way, shape, or form is this program detrimental to your practice.
Liston: For the first few weeks, I want you to do one set of everything. As you become more comfortable with the program and with the technique of the exercises, you can perform two sets. Towards the end of the program, you can go up to three sets if you feel you can handle that workload. It’s all about being safe and performing all the exercises with proper technique.
Liston: If you can, find a coach who has solid credentials and who understands the energy systems required to enhance strength and power. It’s important to train the correct way, because if you don’t, you will do more harm than good, which leads to injuries. That’s something a coach can help with. The second piece of advice I offer to young athletes is to be patient with your skills and training. I can’t stress that enough; when you’re young, it’s difficult to understand that you develop over time. It won’t come right away.