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Beach volleyball and indoor volleyball are both highly dynamic uni-lateral sports. That means that a lot of the actions we perform are one-sided. When you take an approach, the majority of the force is stopped and redirected by one leg. When you go up to serve or hit a volleyball, you use one side. That means you are constantly training a stretch and fire program for one side of your body.
Our bodies have to get better and more efficient at these one-sided moves but we also have to prevent imbalances from hurting us. Allow me to explain that a little further. If you are a right-handed hitter for indoor volleyball and you take an approach, your footwork should follow the right-left-right-left pattern. You gather a ton of speed on the ground during your approach and all of that energy is transferred into a vertical jump using the stopping and re-directing energy in your left leg. Your left leg should get really efficient handling force. You might even find that you can balance better on that foot.
Once you leave the ground, your right arm and upper body start rotating backwards as your hips start rotating forward generating a big stretch in your obliques. That thoracic (upper torso) opening lets you to whip forward allowing you to hit a volleyball harder. In the end, the left half of your lower body builds pathways that make lateral stopping and starting more efficient. At the same time your body will start getting a larger range of motion opening your chest to your right side.
Meanwhile, this same pathway won’t exist in reverse. Almost every volleyball player is able to rotate and stretch their upper body in a larger range of motion to their hitting side.
It isn’t a terrible thing to be more mobile or even stronger on one side. That’s the nature of our sport but we can’t let that completely lock the opposite motion. Getting stuck into a single movement pattern means your body gets sticky if you don’t train for more versatile scenarios.
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Every good beach volleyball workout program should include a significant mobility routine so that you can increase your range of motion in the movements you need for the sport. While enhancing the patterns that we use in volleyball, it should also balance out the opposite patterns so that our bodies don’t get locked.
When building or choosing a volleyball workout program, it should 100 percent have a great mobility portion because as athletes, we get into a lot of dynamic positions throughout the match. The more positions you are mobile enough to move into, the more balls you can play efficiently. If your hips aren’t mobile enough to get into a deep squat, passing a ball or digging a ball hit right in front of you is going to be really difficult. When you have more mobility, you have a bigger chance to make great plays from more positions. Most people don’t realize that their lack of mobility costs them thousands of points because they weren’t flexible enough to make an efficient, powerful play.
If your beach volleyball exercises focus on enhancing your range of motion, you will win more points in the game just because of that!
There are a lot of ways to increase your mobility but our 60 Day Strength and Conditioning Program for Volleyball focuses on three routines. We use foam rolling, dynamic range of motion and animal flow to limber up, get balanced and enhance some important patterns without getting bored.
If you have never been in the players’ tent at an AVP Pro Beach Volleyball event, don’t get upset. You aren’t missing much. For the most part it’s just a bunch of lanky people laying around on top of foam rollers in different positions. The players tent is our chance to rest, recover, eat and mobilize. Most people don’t understand what foam rolling does and why it’s such an important part of your volleyball training program.
Foam rolling is essentially giving yourself a massage. The timing of this is very important. When you get a massage or you use a foam roller, your muscles are being told to be less reactive. You are consciously shutting off the receptors that tell your muscle to tighten. This would be a bad thing if we did it immediately before a plyometrics or jump training routine. Massage and foam rolling let your body know that it's OK to get into a larger range of motion but they also make you momentarily less reactive.
Foam rolling by itself won’t do much good if you don’t follow it with a stretching or exercise routine that promotes a greater range of motion.
We recommend foam rolling before you start your routine because it will allow you to be more dynamic but make sure there is enough time (15-20 minutes) between foam rolling and when you need to be your most explosive. Remember that deep massage and foam rolling turn off your muscles reactiveness so if you try to jump higher right away, you’ll be in for a rude awakening. Tell your muscles it's ok to stretch by using a foam roller, then do some exercises that actually move you into a better range of motion but don’t expect to be explosive in the 10-15 minutes after this. As beach volleyball players, this information is crucial to succeeding at tournaments. A foam roll session or deep massage with the wrong timing can really hurt your performance and your explosiveness.
Foam rolling can help volleyball players jump higher when used properly. Remember that we need a great range of motion to be dynamic. If you can’t move smoothly through a deep squat, a double arm lift, and a full body extension, you simply won’t be able to jump at your maximum potential. In our Better at Beach 60 Day Training Program we use foam rolling regularly and follow it with exercises that then promote the additional range.
If you are foam rolling after your volleyball practice or exercise routine, make sure you follow it by an actual stretch session to get the most out of your volleyball conditioning program.
There is another way for us beach volleyball players to enhance our mobility. Our Dynamic Range of Motion routine moves your muscles and joints through as many athletic positions as possible. I can give you one simple example that will show you how lack of mobility and flexibility can destroy your vertical jump. We always use quad stretches and hip flexor stretches in our DROM routine. When you jump, your knees need to straighten and your hips need to fully extend to hit your best vertical leap numbers. If the muscles in your quads and hips are too tight to comfortably move into full extension and beyond, your body will stop you from reaching that range, it won’t push you into your highest height. Most of the time, you won’t even recognize this. Your body is able to shut off movement patterns that could actually help you! Scary but a good beach volleyball workout teaches the muscles in our body to allow us a better range of motion so we can be strong in more positions. Imagine trying to jump without extending your hips. It doesn’t look pretty.
That quadriceps/hip flexor complex is just one example of a muscle group that can give us a higher vertical jump if we maximize its mobility.
A quality dynamic range of motion routine picks the most important positions that allow you to increase your mobility. Each stretch or move only lasts 2-3 seconds. This is another way we tell our body that we WANT it to have greater range.
At our VolleyCamp Hermosa adult classes and training camps in Hermosa Beach, CA, we routinely see people who would be MUCH better volleyball players if they could just get their bodies into better positions. Lack of flexibility and mobility can destroy your potential for success.
Animal flow is a unique style of exercise that combines range of motion with shoulder strength and stability. It might seem strange at first because it literally looks like you’re just crawling around on the floor but when you really explore it, the positions that you flow through are the same positions necessary to being a great power athlete.
During the Animal Flow Routine, you’ll notice elements of yoga but with a much larger focus on shoulder stability and strength. We love this as a beach volleyball warm up routine because it gets your shoulders stronger which helps you hit harder and it opens your chest, shoulders and hips which help you lift weights more efficiently and jump higher.
It looks and feels different but we love it because we love new challenges. We’ve already included a couple of exercises in this post but we don't do the moves justice. Check out the full warm up series below. You don't need all of these moves to warm up for a volleyball tournament or practice but if you explore the fullest range of motion through each part of the movements, not only will your shoulders and arms get an awesome workout but you'll be so much looser. I can always get into a much deeper squat with good technique after using the Animal Flow warm up for my volleyball workouts. The guy in the video makes this volleyball warm up routine look way better than did.
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If you want to increase your vertical in beach volleyball to jump higher, hit harder, and win tournaments. All you have to do is sign up for our Beach Volleyball Mastery. We'll help you build a great foundation that lets you add strength without putting on unnecessary size. We'll also equip you with all of the fitness knowledge and programming you need for everything volleyball.
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