Whether you’re a member of a competitive volleyball team or you just play for fun -- but still want to win -- you better do a good warm-up before you hit the court. Warming up helps loosen your muscles so you can play your best and avoid injuries. To really get the most out of your talent, though, don’t wait until the day of a match to prepare. Work out regularly to improve your strength and conditioning, and help lead your team to victory.
Immediately before a game or practice, raise your core temperature by jogging or doing jumping jacks for about five minutes, then perform dynamic stretches. iSport.com recommends stretches such as the ankle flip, in which you stand on the balls of your feet with your knees locked, then propel yourself forward by pushing off the floor with one foot at a time. Do Russian kicks to loosen your hips and core, by standing straight, then kicking with one leg until it’s horizontal and extended in front of you, while simultaneously trying to touch your raised foot with the opposite hand. Target your lower back, hip flexors and glutes with the scorpion stretch. Lie face down with your arms extended in front of you and your toes touching the floor. Lift your right foot, cross it over your left leg and move your foot as close as you can to your left hand. Repeat the stretch with your opposite leg.
Teams commonly use pepper drills as warm-ups before a match or practice. Common pepper involves two players on the same side of the net hitting the ball back and forth, using different techniques. For example, one player may set the ball to her partner. The second player hits it back to the first, who digs the ball to her partner. The second player then sets to the first and the pattern continues. You can also do solo pepper drills by hitting the ball straight up using a variety of one- and two-hand digs and sets.
Jumping ability is a key to volleyball success, especially when you’re in the front row. An improved vertical leap can mean the difference between a winning spike and a ball hit into the net. Improve your leaping ability by performing stair jumps, which is the best overall exercise for a volleyball player, according to coach and Olympic gold medalist Pat Powers. Use a staircase with at least 45 steps. Jog up the stairs a few times to loosen up, then jump up the stairs, three steps at a time. Work up to 10 sets. Powers suggests walking down the stairs sideways between sets to help protect your knees.
Strength training can improve your vertical leap, help put more zip in your attacking shots and give you more stamina so you can remain at your best late in the match. Try Powers’ No. 2 exercise for volleyball players, hill running, by running up a 100-yard-long hill 10 to 12 times. Powers also recommends circuit training. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, take a 60-second rest, then move on to the next activity. For a total-body workout, do military and bench presses, lat pulldowns, pushups, situps, squats, lunges and toe raises.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.