To watch a beach volleyball player warm up is to watch a menagerie of exercises, stretches, and odd rituals of varying use. Some of these are critical. Some are useful. Some are, well, some are just odd and could be downright harmful to any volleyball player and athlete.
Which is why we brought in Doctor Domenic Fraboni, a doctor of physical therapy and lifestyle consultant who was kind enough to walk us through three essential stretches for beach volleyball players.
Dr. Dom is one of a number of experts we've had featured on Better at Beach, and we've compiled a 60-day course to have you jumping higher, hitting harder, and powering through the sand.
Enter Dr. Dom.
This video on Three Essential Stretches for Beach Volleyball features Domenic Fraboni or, @DrDomPT if you're looking for a good follow on Instagram. Hunt him down because he gives great information about how to optimize your body and make a more successful, healthier athlete all around.
We had a question for Domenic Fraboni: For all volleyball players, especially jumping athletes, what are the three most important stretches for a volleyball player?
Beach volleyball stretch for hitting better. No. 1: Chest
Domenic Fraboni: Places that we really need mobility, especially with overhead athletes, specifically volleyball players, are through the chest and through the back. We also need good mobility through the hips. I'm going to run you through a couple of things that we can do for that.
So, first, I want you to use this pole and all I'm going to have you do is grab your arm here, like this. A lot of people will do a chest stretch, but they'll just kind of throw their arm forward and you see, you feel how your shoulder rotates forward like that kind of going down.
I want you to lock that shoulder blade down and back and almost step one foot forward. And just kind of lightly lunge into that and you feel how quickly that comes in some of the chest through here rather than letting our shoulder kind of roll forward. As we step through we want to keep that shoulder blade rooted down in back and this can be a great one to do with the arm straight out to the side and also the arm a little bit higher cause then we're going to stretch a slightly different portion of the pec.
So you can even bring your elbow in like this depth, that one forward, get that shoulder down and back. Breathing is important because that's how we actually teach our body that this is a good thing for us and that we can let those muscles take to less tension and this is going to help me hit harder a lot longer.
I'm going to give you the range you need through your shoulders to feel like you don't need to get it through your low back and prevent us again from maybe getting some of that low back pain.
Beach volleyball stretch No. 2: Hips
Everyone, when they do a lunge, people will just come forward, arch through the back. A really simple tip: Start here by locking the ribs down, squeezing through that, so it's going to be this side, squeeze this cheek and you already feel that stretch in the front there a little bit, right? And then just let those hips translate forward a tiny bit without losing that squeeze and without losing this engagement yet. Because then again, we're not getting that extension through the hip. We're getting it through the low back. Squeeze in here, solid here. And the thing that you can start trying to do is lift that heel up towards that butt and back down. That's going to maybe bring it more down into the quad, activating through that extended range where our hip feels a little bit in danger.
To prevent that, we breathe. Tell the body that this is for your own good. So yeah, even in an elite player here like Mark, some small changes can give him a lot more advantage on the corner.
Beach volleyball stretch for hitting No. 3: Thoracic rotation
We’re again getting the rotation where it's meant not compensating through the back to get that powerful strike leg forward pinned to the ground here. This one straight, both your hands are going to be forward. I want you to just press that knee to the ground like you're going to stick it there and then open up the book. Follow that hand back with your eyes. Good. You might feel a little quick and crackling that upper back. That's us gaining that motion safely or your body's now feeling comfortable to go sound like a broken record, but breathe into it.
More breath is good. Another way you can do it, I call it the around the world is bringing this arm up and around so then we're working a little bit more shoulder and pec mobility as well while we go through that range. Slightly different angles because as athletes, every time we have to train slightly differently to play slightly differently. I can totally see that opening up big hitting windows, being able to stretch back here.
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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