Volleyball jump training is a huge part of improving a player’s game. Hitters, blockers and setters all benefit significantly from increasing their vertical jump through smart strength training. But remember, learning to jump higher is only half the goal. The other half – and a very important half – is for players to learn how to land with proper technique so they stay healthy.
In this video, DePaul coach Marie Zidek, a certified strength trainer, shows you how to come down from your jump in a safe, balanced way that serves two purposes:
- Minimizing injury risk.
- Leaving the player ready to make the next play.
Over the course of a long season, players use their vertical jump countless times, so all teams should regularly incorporate jump training exercises into practice and/or workout sessions.
Tip # 1 – Volleyball jump training begins with teaching safe two-foot landings
Start off by talking about good technique, then demonstrate a landing using a box that’s no more than two feet off the floor. Cover the following points:
- When landing, players need to absorb the shock to their lower body and back by bending their knees.
- The final body posture after landing should be similar to a sitting position or a jump squat; knees should be bent at about 90 degrees.
- Thigh muscles and glutes do the “heavy lifting” of absorbing body weight, not the feet, knees or back.
- The proper technique reduces wear and tear on the body and helps reduce injury risk.
Tip # 2 – Teach single-leg landings after athletes master two-foot landings
Explain that two-foot landings are optimal but that single-foot landings are inevitable from time to time in volleyball, so it’s important to train for them. Emphasize these teaching points:
- Safe, single-foot landings require similar shock absorption to two-foot landings – knees bent at about 90 degrees at the finish. The second foot comes down as soon as possible for support.
- When practicing one-foot landings, add a single-foot hop after the landing to help build coordination. Zidek demonstrates two follow-up hops in the video.
Tip # 3 – Explain why staying injury free isn’t about building big muscles
As Zidek mentions, preventing jump-related injuries isn’t about “muscles or size” but, rather, about how well athletes’ “nervous systems are trained to fire the muscles that need to be fired” to keep them in a safe position. Once this has been ingrained through multiple reps and targeted training, the chance of stumbling awkwardly – and thus increasing injury risk – is greatly reduced.
Make time to teach the “other” part of jumping
Training a volleyball team isn’t easy. Budgeting practice time in a way that checks all the boxes necessary to get players competing at the highest level of their abilities is challenging. Because of this, coaches often don’t make time for enough jump-training instruction. But it’s important that you do make time. The health of your players is directly related to the strength of your team. And learning how to land is a skill they’ll use as long as they’re playing volleyball.