One of the most overlooked, and unappreciated components of volleyball training is the warm up strategy before practice sessions. We prepare practice plans, game plans, etc. but often leave the warm up to the individual. If you practice 3x per week, and you set aside 20 minutes for warm up, that amounts to an extra hour of training per week (around 35 hours of training during the club season!). Coaches, what could you accomplish if you had an extra 35 hours a season with your players?
We have implemented a model that uses this time to progress the players through a developmental plan to build better movement, reduce injuries, and improve technique and focus. This program outlines a plan to set the player up for success from the moment they walk in the door. Here is an example:
November: Simple, Stability Movements
Focus on gaining mobility & stability in simple volleyball movements. This would entail some muscle activation type stretches, followed by some focused balance (hip and glute stability) type drills. Then would progress to some simple core work and/or shoulder stability (using bands and light weights – less than 5 lbs). And finally, get the heart rate up with some skipping, shuffling, carioca and basic jump landing work.
December: Adding Quickness
At this point they should be stable, have optimal mobility, and be very rhythmic and confident in their movements. It is now time to add speed to these movements. Start by doing a walking activation type warm up (walking leg swings, lunges with a reaching twist, etc). This will reduce the boredom and increase focus in the drills. From her progress to some dynamic squats, jump squats, split squats and ankling (ankle bounces or jump rope). Next start to work on more skipping for height and for distance (driving out without losing rhythm). Also start to incorporate the shuffle to block, and crossover to block at the net.
January: Decrease Ground Contact Time (GCT) and Increase Force Production
Now we have them players moving well, with a great base of body control, conditioning and stability. So now we will progress to more of a plyometric warm up. Go back to the muscle activation type stretches you did over the first month, and then progress quickly through the quick squatting and jumping drills from our jumping and landing program. Next, put your players at the net and have them focus on the shuffle to block, crossover to block and approach to transition type movements with an emphasis on maximum speed and height off the ground. Have them moving in a circuit across the net, back across the 10 ft line and then jogging or shuffling in a defensive position to the back line and up to the net to do it again.
By changing the warm up you have added some focus on stability, technique power and reaction. This also will be progressing them towards a peak by the start of major qualifiers of the Club Season.
February – April: Maintenance through the Club season
At this point you want to maintain your gains in conditioning, stability, functional strength and power as long as you can so you will want to incorporate some creative higher volume days (more reps, longer times) with some quicker days (focused on power and speed with short duration drills), and days of stability (focused on recovery, after tournaments). This will give the players the variety they are looking for while continuing to target each essential area to keep it sharp!
As you go through the intense part of the Club Season we want to be able to balance the warm up protocol to achieve the goals we have set for our teams.
- Post Tournament Practice – RECOVERY BASED
- Pre-Tournament Practice – QUALITY BASED, TECHNICAL EFFICIENCY
- Intra-Tournament Practice – CONDITIONING AND REPETITION