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Functional Strength

posted Feb 4, 2015, 4:50 PM by Debbie Sokol   [ updated Feb 5, 2015, 8:30 AM by David Hawes ]
One of the most common questions I get from parents and players centers around strength building and how to get stronger, quicker, more agile. As an athlete matures, so does her body. There are a plethora of sports performance studios in Houston, as in most major cities. Every high school program has its own version in the way of spring training, off season training and summer weight programs. But what about the beginner, the 10 year old. These kids are too young for weights and plyometric jumping. Their bodies are not developed enough to handle the stress on the joints and ligaments, and they can get injured. For youngsters, and even older players, I recommend some simple bodyweight exercises that will enhance your strength, stability and confidence. I see a lot of younger players who lack the necessary strength to hold a low body position for even 5 or 10 seconds. As you know, that position is very important in volleyball, for digging, passing and jumping. Try adding these exercises into your workout routine.
  • Bodyweight Squats – Put your hands on your hips, feet about shoulder width apart. Bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor or a little lower and then jump. Do 10-12 of these, rest a minute and then do two more sets 

  • Side Lunges – Again, your feet are shoulder width apart. Step sideways so the leg that you are stepping with ends up bent at about 90 degrees and your opposite leg is straight. Then push back to your starting position. Go the other way to complete a full rep. Do two or three sets of 10-12 reps. To make it volleyball specific, hold your arms out in a passing platform while you perform your lunges

  • Forward Lunges – With your feet together, step forward with one leg until the thigh of that leg is parallel to the ground. Push off with that leg and return to your starting position. Switch to the other leg to complete a rep. Do two or three sets of 8-10 reps. You can make this one volleyball specific too by holding a passing platform out in front of you when you are doing each step 

  • Push-ups – Depending on your level of strength, you can either start with regular pushups or you can do half push-ups, where you have your knees on the ground instead of your feet. If you find that even a half pushup is too difficult, try pushing off a wall while standing up. Your feet should be about two feet away from the wall when you begin. Try sets of 5 and increase reps per set as you get stronger

  • Planks – This exercise starts similar to push-up position except you rest on your elbows and forearms with your elbows under your shoulders. Hold this position for a minute. As you get stronger, strive for two minutes. This is a great way to strengthen your core. If you want a greater challenge, start in standard push-up position and then rotate your body so one arm remains on the ground and the other points straight up toward the sky. This is called a lateral plank. There are many variations. You can even try lifting one leg off the floor alternately
For more of a challenge, you can always add dumbbells to these routines, and stand on a Bosu or Airex Balance Pad. Whatever you choose, commit to a routine and get stronger - you'll love the impact it has on your game!