Every sport needs its own unique way of practising. In volleyball we have to focus on our training. Let´s look at the specificity of the volleyball practise.



With the words “functional training” being spread around like wildfire buzzwords across the fitness community, it has inevitably leaked into the sporting world, as well. This is unfortunate. In fact, it should be a fundamental thought that all training that is done should actually be functional to the demands that the sport will place on the body of the athlete. Yet, it’s not uncommon to see coaches prescribe things like fat-burning interval circuits, stability balls, or standing on a balance board on one leg with your eyes closed. Some of these exercise prescriptions may have their time and place when it comes to the training of those in the general public. But when it comes to training for the sport of volleyball, these things lack functionality and should be kept as far away as possible!

Therefore, we know that we need to really start to look at where the rubber meets the road when it comes to the characteristics that are unique to the game of volleyball. When training, we have to account for each of these circumstances and attempt to replicate it as closely as possible.

These unique variables include, but are not limited to: predominant movement actions/motor patterns, muscle contraction behavior, time demands, speeds of contraction, range of motion and work vs. rest ratios. No matter if the program is designed right or wrong, the body will react with changes/adaptations resembling the demands that you are placing it under. This is called the SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands). You will always play the way that you have trained. Thus, do you want to train your athletes to be like race horses or plow horses?

The age old cliché, “speed kills”, is an accurate one for us to remember in the training of our athletes. Volleyball movements and actions are fast and ballistic. This means that if you want to perform optimally and injury-free, you better be training in that same ballistic manner. There is no exception. The speeds replicated in training movements and positions need to resemble those that occur in competition. During the sport, force is applied for a very limited time and distance, so sport success is determined in mere fractions of seconds. In contrast, many coaches spend a high amount of training time without any regard to speeds/velocities of their prescribed movements. Why would one spend a majority of time teaching our body (namely the nervous system) that it’s perfectly fine to go slower to apply our force? I don’t believe that there are usually any good answers to that question!

In addition, bodies on a volleyball court are all initially started in motion by force being applied to the ground (i.e. not on weight machines or apparatus that lock us into a specific range of motion or the balance board I mentioned above!). In addition to this thought, the body must move in a synergistic manner, at all times. Thus, it is not usually advisable to attempt to isolate muscle groups (this includes abdominal work, as well!) in an attempt to “work” a given area of the body. Rather, we should try to enable the body to move holistically. This is why ground-based movements that are of a closed-chain kinetic manner are more of a premium in successfully designed programs than their open-chain counterparts.

Author: Shawn Myszka, avca.org