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Can a strong core increase your vertical jump for beach volleyball? Absolutely! Let me tell you why.
Do you know those wacky inflatable flailing arm guys that used car dealerships use? The plastic ones that are just big tubes of flowing air. Imagine one of those guys trying to jump.Their top side would topple and flop because nothing in the midsection is holding anything stable. If your core can’t stabilize your spine so that your upper body and lower body sync up, you cannot be powerful.
Your body has to learn to stabilize itself so you can stop, start, and change directions on a dime. When you don’t train to brace your spine and keep your core rigid, you go through tiny “lag” periods where your body has to reset its alignment to catch up with the direction you want it to move in.
If your volleyball workouts aren’t training you to stabilize your core, EVERYTHING will be slower and weaker. This is very different from just training your abs. Because in beach volleyball you need to be upright more often than not. Your muscles have to learn how to keep your spine straighter during athletic movements. A good core workout for volleyball players has a combination of both lying, kneeling and standing core exercises because we find ourselves in these different positions when we are digging on defense and when we are serving or spiking.
In beach volleyball, not only do you need a strong core but you need it to last! We’ve all seen those long AVP and FIVB rallies where it looks like the players are getting floppier as the point goes on. It looks like everyone’s torso becomes so heavy compared to their legs as they reach exhaustion. Players even start leaning on their legs instead of holding themselves upright.
Why do you think you bend over and lean on your knees when you're physically exhausted? It requires a lot of energy to stabilize your spine and keep you upright! If the muscles and stabilizers around your hips, low back, abs and spine give out, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. Everything will be weak and slow. Your core has to be the absolute last thing to fatigue. Everyone who wants to jump higher has to do workouts with exercises that keep your core engaged.
Everyone wants to know how to jump higher and hit harder when they learn how to spike a volleyball but very few recognize the importance of the core's ability to sustain and generate massive power. We’ve written about why core endurance is crucial but core power is what helps us be explosive!
You have to stabilize your spine and engage your core to move fast but you also have to withstand a ton of force. If you train to hold a plank for 5 minutes, you will have plenty of endurance for that body weight specific exercise but will you be able to stay in control and strong when you're crawling and laying out in sand at full speed. When your knee hits the ground while your arm is outstretched for a dig, can your core muscles keep you rigid enough to finish the dig, lift the ball, pop to your feet and seal the deal?
Think about the stress put on your midsection when you’re coming from a stretched, rotated position and you are about to hit a spike as hard as you can from a fully extended position.
That plank might have been easy from your elbows but what if you laid on your stomach and extended your arms straight above your head? Do you have the core power to hold a plank using just your outstretched palms and your feet? That’s the type of force your body will experience during a spike.
Remember that power includes the ability to control deceleration AND acceleration. Your body needs that decelerating version of core power to keep you stable while landing from jumps and crawling or diving for digs. It needs the accelerating core power for first step quickness on defense, the take off for jumps, and of course, attacking.
Check out one of our favorite core power exercises from Jump Higher, Hit Harder and Move Faster: The 60 Day Strength and Conditioning Plan for Beach Volleyball
Volleyball, beach volleyball and all throwing/swinging sports require an immense amount of rotational power. Your hips, and torso need to work with each other to generate torque or power that comes from a twisting motion. When you jump high and need to spike hard, you are going to rotate your shoulders separately from your hips. After you stretch those obliques in the air, your muscles are going to snap back to place and that’s what generates power. However, your body only has a certain amount of time and space to slow down all the acceleration that was built up. We have to train our bodies to both generate and resist torque if we want to be complete volleyball athletes. You have to generate torque to spike harder and you have to resist it to change directions on the ground and to control your body after a swing. Transverse Core Endurance allows you to stay healthy because you can stop your hips, torso and arms from twisting exactly when you need them to which protects your spine and your muscles at the ends of their ranges of motion. Of course, if you have a greater range of motion like we’ve written about before, you can couple that with the ability to keep yourself aligned for long bouts of exercise which leads to better practices and longer tournaments.
The ability to generate torque quickly and powerfully is key to getting better at beach volleyball and maintaining top level performance. Torque is required in almost all sports yet a disappointingly small number of volleyball workout programs focus on this universally crucial element.
Rotational power and elasticity are the key elements in helping players learn how to hit harder in volleyball. If you’ve spent more time doing pushups or bench press than you have scoop-launching medicine balls, you have wasted that time. There are only two valid arguments to be made for chest exercises. One is that defenders need to control their descent when diving and they have to popup quickly so some pushing power is required. The only other chest exercise a volleyball player should consider is the fly which simulates a swing pattern considerably more than a bench press.
If you want to jump higher and then hit harder, your body has to be great at producing and controlling rotational power. Here is an exercise that might help.
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Included are diagrams and written explanations of the most important exercises that EVERY pro player does or has done at one point or another.
The five skill sections covered are:
Serve Receive & Passing
Ball Control And Emergency Technique