Shoulder exercises to help every beach volleyball player hit harder


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Beach volleyball coaches and players everywhere use the word ‘shoulder’ pretty loosely. Nine muscles are responsible for the movement of your upper arm. That movement is controlled at the shoulder joint.

If you play volleyball, chances are you’ve experienced some version of soreness or tightness in your shoulder region. If you want to last as a volleyball player and you want to learn how to hit harder, you have to learn how to strengthen and protect your shoulder joint and all of the muscles around it.

In your body, your shoulder joint has the biggest range of movement across the most planes. This means that it’s versatile but since there are so many moving parts, there is a lot that can go wrong, which makes shoulder pain and problems very hard to diagnose.

A sound volleyball workout program should address every plane of movement with a lot of different shoulder exercises.

To help you understand the different exercises necessary for volleyball as you are reading, put your arm straight up above your head. If you put your hand to your side and lifted your hand sideways or you used a pressing motion, you moved along the frontal plane. If you lifted your hand in front of you, you utilized the sagittal plane. From above your head, keep your arm straight but bring your hand to your opposite pants pocket. This movement (like swiveling in an office chair) gets you moving along the transverse or rotational plane. 

The double arm lift utilized for jumping high in beach volleyball means that you are performing a shoulder raise all the way to the point of an I-hold.

As soon as you cock your elbow back to load for a spike you’ve rotated it AND opened it, adding two more planes. When you spike, your elbow rotates forward and up, followed by your hand and during your follow through, you have to decelerate all of that force safely.



All of this requires an incredibly diverse set of movements and muscles. True volleyball workouts address all of these so you can hit harder for longer. There are a lot of beach volleyball exercises for shoulders that you can use. Here are a couple of our favorites. Our 60 Day Beach Volleyball Workout Program guaranteed to help you jump higher, hit hard and move faster is packed shoulder exercises for volleyball. It also gets you on a schedule which is paramount to success and longevity in the sport.

Shoulder Endurance for beach volleyball

How do you get shoulder endurance?

Having shoulder endurance means that your muscles can last through fatigue while keeping your shoulder in a healthy position through thousands of swings.

When you’re tired, do you maintain good form and technique?

Because the muscles around the shoulder joint are both plentiful and small in size, it can be hard to know if they become fatigued. When your muscles fatigue, other pathways take over and often, they are not the best/healthiest pathways. That can lead to injury because more pressure or use is put on muscles that aren’t supposed to be supporting certain movements. 

Do you need weights?

There are so many shoulder workouts that don't require any weights. Many of the problems associated with beach volleyball injuries come from a lack of range of motion.

When you do shoulder exercises for volleyball you have three goals. The first goal is to stabilize your shoulder so that it is strong throughout its entire range of motion. You don't want your bones or tendons to rub each other the wrong way and that will happen when things aren't moving properly.  The extra rubbing causes inflammation and oftentimes that can lead to tears and surgeries. A stable shoulder usually means that you can move your arm the way it was designed to move without pain or micro-injury.

The second goal is to expand your range of motion. You can have the strongest shoulders in the world where every muscle of your rotator cuff glistens in the sun but if you can't open your chest and get your elbow back with your hand high, you'll never be able to transition this strength and stability in a way that helps you spike better in volleyball. 

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The third goal is to add strength piece by piece. Strong isn't necessarily what's going to get you hitting hard.

Elasticity, a big hitting window, and speed are what really count when it comes to the best volleyball spikes.

Strength helps because it plays a big role in moving something quickly but there are certain types of strength that slow you down. As always, when training for beach volleyball, make sure that when you're performing your strength moves you are doing it with speed so that you can translate your workouts to the court and become a better attacker as well as improve your serving. 

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Why would you need shoulder endurance for beach volleyball?

The endurance of our stabilizer muscles often gets masked because we use fast, powerful bursts of movement. The larger muscles take over during that time and because they take over the energy requirements of most movements, it takes a sidelining injury to realize how weak you are in certain ranges of movement.

A stronger, more stabilized shoulder girdle equates to harder hits and the absence of injury.

Holding a position for an extended period of time or doing very light weight for high reps will help you realize where you run out of gas first. Sometimes your big muscles are still good to go but the stabilizers and supporter muscles can’t handle the load.

Again this leads to poor swing mechanics and an injury prone career.

Does shoulder endurance require extra work?

Volleyball players need to spend a significant amount of time preparing their shoulders for battle. In beach volleyball specifically, if you suffer a shoulder injury, you are essentially useless.

For indoor volleyball, you might be able to move to libero or setter. Your team might be able to “hide” you. That will certainly get exposed on the beach but let’s just say no matter the sport, you want your shoulders to be healthy.

Because volleyball players spend so much time swinging forward, our anterior muscles get over developed which can lead to tightening, hunched posture and an increased rate of injury. If you are a volleyball player and you aren’t spending a significant amount of time on one light weight rotator cuff and shoulder endurance exercises, you are setting yourself up for disaster. 

Get some really light weights or even just water bottles and try some of these exercises. Remember that these are not one time fixes. You have to pay attention to and maintain your rotator cuff muscles and stabilizers every other workout, at minimum.

If you want to play this sport injury free for years to come and you want to hit harder in volleyball, you have to invest in a great workout program that provides a great range of shoulder exercises specific to the volleyball athlete.

When your shoulders are able to move through a fluid range with a stabilized scapula, your ability to spike with more power will be at another level.

If those benefits weren’t enough, I have one more. If you want to last through a 2 hour beach volleyball practice plan, those shoulders had better keep up.

Imagine you came to Better at Beach in Hermosa Beach, CA or Salt Lake City, Utah for a private lesson on attacking. If we are working on swing mechanics for volleyball, you are going to need to take a lot of swings to correct your patterns and then groove them.

If you want to learn how to get better at spiking, you’ll need the endurance to handle a lot of reps in a short period of time without getting hurt. If you don’t train your shoulder stability and endurance, you simply will not be able to maintain a top level of performance throughout a lesson or a tournament.

The worst part of this is that it will hide itself. You’ll be left wondering why you can’t spike with any power. You’ll hit balls out of bounds and serve into the net and you’ll find something to blame when I know that the only thing to blame is a  workout program that ISN'T CATERED TO VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS.

Take care of your rotator cuff and your shoulders. Do the annoying exercises with tiny weights or no weight at all. They can feel like a nuisance but they are crucial to your success. No more volleyball injuries under my watch!


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