Volleyball is a popular competitive sport that requires a high level of agility, coordination, and strength. Players need to do cross-functional training to build and maintain their physical fitness. This includes aerobic exercise for stamina, calisthenics for well-rounded strength, and stretching for flexibility and mobility. Among the various exercises known and used to enhance athletic performance for playing volleyball, squats are highly recommended as a compound workout that engages different parts of the body.
Muscle Groups Targeted by Squats
In combination with other training techniques, squats target muscles in the lower and upper halves of the body that enable powerful movement, support core strength. and improve posture and balance.
The lower muscles that squats target are:
- Hamstrings (thighs)
- Hip flexors
- Gluteus maximus, minimus and medius (buttocks)
- Abductor (groin)
In the upper body, squats improve core and back strength, which includes:
- Rectus abdominis
- Transverse abdominis
- Erector spinae
How to Maximize Your Squats
For professional athletes, or those who want to step up their at-home workout routines, there are various pieces of fitness equipment that will bring your squat exercises to a whole different level. One of the most popular types is a power rack. Similar to a squat rack, this resembles a steel cage and works out the entire body. It comes with more customizable options, more versatility and better safety features. When choosing the best power racks for your purposes, consider your budget, available space, weight lifting range, and accessories for additional functionality. Investing in a power rack is a great way to increase your strength and endurance for better performance in your volleyball game.
The most basic squatting technique is the air squat, which uses your body weight as resistance. This simple exercise can be done anywhere on a limited time budget, you just need the proper space for the range of movement per rep. Doing it correctly is important for maximum effect. Here are some easy steps to help you do squats correctly:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-length apart.
- On an inhale, start engaging your core, your abdominals, and your back.
- Start to lower your hips with your arms outstretched and your back straight.
- Continue lowering until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor.
- Breathe and hold this position for as long as you can.
- Make sure you’re feeling the burn in your legs. You should especially feel it in the thighs.
- Keep your knees fully bent while you hold the position, hovering above but no further than your toes.
- On an exhale, slowly start lifting back up to standing position, with your muscles still engaged.
- Repeat this rep as many times as you can comfortably do.
If you’re looking for ways to diversify your workouts, there are several squat variations to try that are especially beneficial to volleyball players. Each one is unique in the way it applies resistance to different areas and muscles and, when done in combination and repetitiously, it compounds the benefits for your overall strength.
- Back squats improve jumping performance.
- Split squats are similar to lunges and are good for balance and hip strength.
- Step ups are good for single leg training, especially for players with hip and knee problems.
- Cossack squats improve hip, knee, and ankle mobility.
How Squats Improve Your Performance
With increased strength, you mitigate the risk of getting injured when playing volleyball as a recreational or professional sport. Not all injuries can be prevented, but some can with proper training for the lower body. Knee injuries are quite common among volleyball players. They can occur when there is physical imbalance in a player’s strength and with the heavy impact the sport has on the knee.
Jumper’s knee, or patellar tendinitis, is inflammation of the knee cap. Staying in shape with strengthening exercises won’t entirely prevent injuries from happening, but it can help your knees sustain the stress and impact from bending, jumping, and landing on hard, compact surfaces. Building your lower body strength with squats also improves your total physical coordination and helps you be lighter on your feet and knees.
One of the greatest things about squats is that you don’t need any expensive fitness gear, and you can do them at home, or really anywhere that you have adequate space. Some people like to ramp up their squat workout with weights or straps for extra resistance and assistance, but the basic technique only requires your own body weight. And remember, however you decide to train to improve your performance on the volleyball court, be conscious of any past injuries and listen to your body’s signals.