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Volleyball Advisors - Best Volleyball Training Tips, Issue #002 -- Safe Training and Med Ball Tips
January 17, 2008


Volleyball Advisors’ Newsletter - Best Volleyball Training Tips, Issue #002


In this issue:

1) More about conditioning

2) And more about safety!

3) Running vs. Squatting

4) Tips about safe squatting

5) Our medicine ball secret – one of the best exercises for a volleyball player

  • What is a medicine ball and medicine ball training?
  • One of our medicine ball training secrets



We thank you for the feedback. Conditioning seems to interest volleyball coaches and players at this time, probably due to starting club volleyball season in US, therefore we’ll continue about the topic a little bit more.

In our previous newsletter we talked about powerful hip extension and the tips we received from experienced European conditioning expert. If hip extension is unclear terminology to you, make sure to check more information about hip extension by following the link or coping and pasting the link below into your browser:

As mentioned in the webpage, an explosive hip extension is involved in several weight lifting exercises. For example clean (power clean, hang clean) is a great exercise when training for explosive power.

We are in the process to create a members section just for our newsletter Volleyball Training Tips subscribers. This section will include videos and articles that are not available anywhere else on the site. We will add instructional videos to the section to demonstrate how to perform an explosive clean and some other exercises mentioned in this newsletter.


And one more time about the safety! When talking about weight lifting, we can’t repeat enough, how important the techniques are.

The writer of this article just got very upset; I noticed popular broadcast yourself portrait has several videos in which young (as well as older) athletes are performing lifts with horrible techniques and trying to lift record lifts as the rest of the team is cheering them.

It hurts my heart seeing that so many athletes are risking their health by lifting maximum weights with techniques below grading scales. All the coaches, trainers and athletes be responsible and focus on the techniques first! Weight lifting is absolutely as safe as any other training method, when executed with proper techniques.

When starting weight training athlete should train few months focusing on techniques until they are learned properly. Beginners and younger athletes need to do weight lifting with lower loads (for example 0 – 30% of 1 RM, 1 RM=the maximum weight you can lift), just learning the techniques first and gradually increasing the loads.


We recently read an article in which one respected international volleyball coach mentioned “there is no need to go to the gym at all and do thousands of squatting repetitions; he prefers some other training methods, like running.” Ouch! Thousands of squatting repetitions?! Running?! With all the respect - we hope the coach was overstating or he was not referred correctly.

When talking about squatting, when performing other leg exercises one squat workout per week is enough. When on the maximum training season, an athlete may take up to 15 total repetitions of squatting during that one workout (plus 2-4 sets of other leg exercise). When working with lower loads total reps are higher but really faraway from the numbers mentioned.

And couple of words about the running as conditioning method: there is no need for traditional cardio training (for example running long distance, biking etc) in volleyball conditioning. The reason is that the match can be long, but the play is interrupted and not constant.

Endurance needs to be developed, but for a volleyball player best workouts to develop volleyball endurance are short sprints, agility drills, or weight training (especially when done as circuit training).

The point we are trying to make is: if weight lifting techniques are learned correctly, it sounds pretty safe training method to perform for example 15 repetitions of squatting a week, which could be enough on maximum training season. We are very positive more injuries happen if big volleyball players have been conditioned by running versus taking them to the gym to strengthen their muscles and joints to absorb all the jumps during the season.


Since squatting is probably one of the first exercises a volleyball player will learn and major exercise when developing pure strength with heavy loads, we want to provide some safe squatting tips.

  • When volleyball player is doing back or front squats and performing with maximum weights we recommend not to go lower than 90 degree knee angle.
  • Volleyball player should use approximately the same knee angles in weight lifting than they are using when they jump, therefore there is no need to go lower angles than 90 degrees. Higher knee angles are good because:

    1. For volleyball player, the purpose is to produce the power on those high knee angles. There is no sense to work lifting lots of weights all the way from the ground because athlete does not start the jump from a low position.
    2. It is safer to your ligaments and joints not to go all the way down with heavy loads.

  • We do know there is some conditioning specialists who prefer low squats, but we do not - just for the safety.

    For safety - we do not recommend doing squats in which you lower your hips all the way down, or even deeper than 90 degree knee angle. We just had a talk with an experienced physical therapist who verified our belief to stay away from low squats. He demonstrated that only a little foot misplacement combined with a squat which goes all the way down can damage meniscus, which is a very common problem for the volleyball players.

    If an athlete wants to ignore our recommendation and absolutely insists to include lower squats to the program, those could be used for warm ups or during the periods when lifting weights with lighter loads.

    Many of you might have done low squats without any problems and think we exaggerate, but we just want to maximize the safety. Or you might have seen Olympic weight lifters going all the way down on their lifts – just remember they are real professionals in lifting – and you should leave it for them.

  • “The knee angle rule” applies in jump training and medicine ball throws also; athlete should mainly work out on the same angles, they use in jumping.
  • When doing squats, it is recommended to use a bench or similar under your hips, which lets you lower yourself only to the certain point, to the knee angles you are training. To exaggerate: you sit to the bench and lift yourself up again. In reality athlete can start resisting the movement when getting close to the bench and just lightly touch it, or lifting yourself up before even touching the bench. The bench is down there just for the safety.
  • Also it is recommended to have two people as spotters in the both end of the bar in case the athlete is not able to lift the weight up by themselves.
  • If not having spotters, another good option is to do squats in a rack (with a free weights, free bar) which allows athlete to set up the bar safely on it, in case an athlete could not lift the weight up. It is extremely important to have a rack there, which allows an athlete push themselves to the point of fatigue without worries.
  • Finally if nobody is there to spot and there is no rack to set up the free weight bar, athlete could use a squat rack in which the bar is attached to the rack. However, free weight lifting is absolutely recommended instead of machines because they force you to stabilize your core and help to strengthen it.

By the way, the bench which you are using for support when doing squats is a good helpful aid also when doing explosive squats (executed with significantly less loads to be explosive). Athlete sits on the edge of bench and performs an explosive lift up to the standing position by straightening the legs and extending the hips, then sits back again to repeat the next lift up.


What Is a Medicine Ball and Medicine Ball Training?

Medicine ball training is used to create strength and power, particularly in sports which require explosive power and involve explosive movements.

Medicine ball is a weighted ball, which is used also in rehabilitation. There are different sizes of medicine balls; we prefer using the diameter which is approximately the size of a volleyball or basketball.

The ball should be made for throwing, therefore the material should be rubber, soft synthetic or similar; material that allows the ball to bounce because it will be constantly throwed to the ground or wall. It should not be confused to inflatable much larger Swiss ball.

One of Our Medicine Ball Training Secrets

One of the best exercises which include hip extension is medicine ball throwing - particularly "a medicine ball scoop". In medicine ball scoop you hold the ball with two hands, take the ball low between your legs with your fully straightened arms by bending your knees approximately to 90 degree knee angle and leaning your torso forward - before explosively lifting up with legs, hip extension and arms to release the ball.

A ball could be thrown and released straight up, forward or even backwards, whatever is your preference. Writer of this article prefers when the ball is thrown straight up. This exercise very closely mirrors the volleyball jump.

When doing the medicine ball scoop and throwing the ball an athlete should

  1. Focus on the powerful lift up with arms. This exercise is one of the few exercises that volleyball player is able to do to improve the arm lift up.
  2. Having a proper knee angle; “jumping knee angle” or lower knee angle depending of the training season.
  3. And of course performing a powerful hip extension.

Ok, that’s enough about hip extension. You must have got our point already, it is VERY important for the volleyball jump. To give you a better idea about the exercises - we are working on putting up some video clips about medicine ball scoop and other exercises to members section.

I was planning to write about adding power to volleyball spike with medicine ball training, but I have to leave it for the next time because this letter is already too long, so until next time…

Keep the Ball Flying,

P.S. Feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends, they can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here or copying and pasting the link below into their browser:



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