Volleyball practice can often feel limited when you don’t have much time with your players. College and professional programs often have the advantage of spending much more time with their team and can afford to use a good portion of that time on conditioning. When you only have a 2-hour practice, you need to get creative to incorporate this essential component of an athlete’s training.
Volleyball strength workouts to try during practice
In the above video, Juliann Faucette-Johnson — former athlete with the Women's U.S National Team — demonstrates several volleyball strength workouts that you can use to increase your players' speed, conditioning and strength.
The video covers:
- 0:01 - 0:45 Introduction
- 0:45 - 2:25 Ladders
- 2:25 - 4:50 Hurdles
- 4:50 - Glute Exercises
1. Exercises using ladders
Speed exercises for volleyball come in many forms, but it’s easy to see why ladders are a popular choice. The following ladder exercises focus on precise footwork, quickness and the ability to change direction quickly.
Coach Faucette-Johnson first instructs her players to use “Quick Feet” to step through, placing one foot in each hole as they make their way from one end of the ladder to the next.
To return to their initial starting point, they must step through and place both feet in each hole. Ramping things up even further, the next pass is to be done by stepping three times in each hole.
Once players are warmed up, you can proceed to Ickey Shuffles (at 1:24 of the video), which are to be done forward and backward. These exercises are great for building “brain-eye” coordination as they force players to think about the cadence of the pattern in order to complete it properly.
Next, players perform Side-Shuffles in a similar method to the first ladder exercise, only they do them sideways.
Ladders are versatile, affordable and highly effective pieces of training equipment — perfect for developing speed.
2. Exercises using hurdles
Hurdles are great for developing quick-twitch muscle movements and different jumping patterns like single-leg, forward, backward and lateral patterns.
High knee step-overs
The first exercise follows a series of 1, 2 and 3 steps between each hurdle — much like the first Ladder drill. The key to doing these well is to drive the knees up to get power from the hips.
The second exercise is a sideways maneuver, and players must place both feet down in between each hurdle. Instruct your team to complete this in both directions before moving on to the next drill — one-foot hops.
One foot hops are done first on one leg and then the other. Players can use a swinging motion in their arms to help them achieve the height needed to clear each hurdle.
Weaves and shuffles
Weaves are typically done with cones to help players hone their agility skills, but hurdles can be used to the same purpose. Have your players weave through the hurdles using short-quick movements. Afterward, stagger the hurdles to create a variation of the same exercise to help boost the heart rate and create a more challenging drill. Perform these exercises forward and backward.
3. Glute exercises using bands
If used properly, bands can help players warm-up for more rigorous exercise, recover from injury as a form of physical therapy or get a full-body workout. Coach Faucette-Johnson has her players demonstrate the following exercises using bands.
Banded walks under tension allow the glutes to be heavily activated and can be done forward, backward and laterally. By increasing the tension level of the band, these exercises can go from being warm-ups to being sweat-worthy strength drills.
When it comes to banded squats, players should place the band so that it rests just above the knees. Squats that use this additional resistance activate more stabilizing muscles and help build strength that protects the knees from injury.
Glute bridges are excellent for targeting the glutes and helping players build the strong foundation necessary for powerful jumps. For this drill, have players lie down on the ground with their knees bent and feet flat on the ground. They should then push their butt into the air and do one hip abduction before returning to the ground.
Glute bridges can also be performed with one leg in the air (knees should remain parallel) to increase the difficulty. In this version, you would exclude the hip abduction.
This common exercise becomes more difficult with the addition of a resistance band. Players must simply lie on their side and lift their upper knee up and down to mimic the opening and closing of a clam.
4. Arm and shoulder exercises using bands
Athletes can use bands for a variety of different shoulder exercises, including external and internal rotations. Coach Faucette-Johnson emphasizes that volleyball hitters need to do shoulder exercises frequently as a form of preventive care for their muscles.
The following exercises are good examples of arm and shoulder workouts using resistance bands.
Forward and lateral arm raises
While stepping on the band with one or both feet, players should lift the band to shoulder level from a variety of angles to work different muscle groups. Have your team perform 10 to 15 repetitions on each arm.
Rotator cuff exercises
The final arm exercise requires a partner who will hold the other end of the band securely while the other person pulls the band in an inward and outward motion. This exercise strengthens the muscles of the shoulder and improves mobility in the rotator cuff.
Learn more with the Art of Coaching
Volleyball strength training is an essential part of becoming a strong volleyball player or building a great team. Use these workout drills before your next practice session to get your team warmed up and to help build strength and resilience over time. You can also check out our online library of videos and blog posts on volleyball strength and conditioning for more performance training resources.