By: Steve Yahns, MS, CSCS, NASM-PESAssistant Director of Performance, Lead Methodology EducatorSpectrum Sports Performance
As in most sports, power is an extremely large component of volleyball. As discussed in previous blogs, it takes power to run, jump, dive, and change direction. In addition, it takes substantial power to dig, set, hit, and block. In our “Plyo” blog article we focused on lower body power. The focus of this week’s blog is to discuss upper body power, rotational power, and total body power, and how volleyball players can improve overall power.
Upper Body Power:Exercise #1: MedBall Overhead SlamFor hitters, and blockers, a good portion of the game is played with arms overhead. Many players lack overhead power and especially overhead stability. The aim of the Overhead Slam is to address both. In addition, the aim is to disassociate the overhead action and power of the arms in relation to the lower body. If an athlete has a stable base to the ground, and is actively engaging glutes, mid-section, and scaps (shoulder blades), they are most likely going to be able to produce more overhead power. During this MedBall exercise the athlete must maintain a stable base position, and raise arms overhead with Ball in hand. While trying to keep the elbows straight, the athlete will slam the ball into the wall and then return to the overhead position. The goal is to gain as much range of motion in the overhead position as possible, avoid shrugging the shoulder upwards, and avoid moving throughout the mid-section and lower body while slamming the ball. Typically 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps are recommended.
Rotational Power:Exercise #2: MedBall Parallel Rotational ThrowGood portions of most sports take place in a rotational plane of motion. Think about cutting, hitting, swinging, etc. Volleyball is no different in its demands of rotational power. Rotational power is needed in every dig, kill, block, and set. As in the previous exercise, a strong stable base is necessary to produce significant amounts of power. When performing the Parallel Rotational Throw, the athlete starts in a strong base, with the hips properly loaded, and the athlete will be parallel or facing the wall. The ball will be placed on the outside of the hip with both arms straight. An overly rotated upper body is a common compensation with this exercise. We want to make sure we keep good kinetic chain alignment while in this base position, so the athlete should have their chest, shoulders and eyes facing straight ahead. The power should be generated from the ground, transfer through the hips, and then through the arms, through the ball, and into the wall. To start the exercise, the athlete should begin to move through the lower body, standing up, and then quickly throwing the ball off the hip. If the movement originates from the arms, we are not truly utilizing our hips, and our power output decreases greatly. Typically 2-3 sets of 4-8 throws per side are performed.
Total Body Power:Exercise #3: Barbell Push Press As mentioned in exercise #1, a lot of the game for volleyball players takes place overhead. The push press is a great example of an exercise that transfers force from the ground, through the legs and hips, through the torso, and up through the arms. The biggest obstacle when performing a push press is to make sure you maintain good alignment in the body so force transfers properly. It starts with a good base position, with feet shoulder width apart, hips back, and knees back behind the toes. The bar starts resting on the upper chest, just underneath the collarbone, with the hands about shoulder width apart. The athlete will start in a standing position, load the hips into a base position, and then actually jump in the air, quickly press the bar overhead, while quickly landing back into a stable base. It is important that the athlete land into a stable base to absorb impact properly, and eventually allow for more weight to be lifted. The ideal position in the arms would be a locked out position, directly over the crown of the head. Once again, the push press is a great exercise to teach the athlete the use the entire body as a functional, powerful unit, while also addressing shoulder strength, mobility, and stability.
Here are three good exercises for developing volleyball athletes. I would recommend laying a foundation of general strength before doing too much explosive lifting — especially the push press.