Volleyball Conditioning Exercises to Improve Your Game

Read about basic volleyball conditioning exercises. Find out how to improve your volleyball game.

Volleyball Conditioning Exercises – The Basics

Raw strength is not enough to keep the volley going on the court. Volleyball players also need to focus on exercises that quicken footwork, improve timing, agility, endurance, etc.

A fast and controlled turnaround in pace can mean the difference between a pointed return or a ball knocked out of bounds - so be sure to train with plyometrics or ballistics to increase your body’s response time.

Volleyball players should not forget about endurance either - it is important for volleyball players to recover quickly for the next burst of action.

Volleyball Conditioning Exercises - Endurance/Recovery:

Traditional Suicides:
Set apart a distance of 40 - 100 yards with markers, each at a quarter of the total length. Sprint to the first marker, then back to the start, to the second marker, then back to the start, to the third and back, to the fourth and back. Then reverse coming back down until you are sprinting back and forth from the first marker again. Take a 30 - 60 second rest in between each “suicide” for recovery.
Why Suicides:
It is quite possibly the best exercise for quick turnaround training. Unlike a sprint, completing a fast suicide requires that you can not only run quickly but completely change direction quickly as well, a very useful skill to be practiced for competition. 
Volleyball Suicides
Run short sprints between the volleyball court lines. Place a market in the middle of the back line and 10 foot line (10 feet equals 3 meters). Then you have equal distance between each line on the volleyball court.

Run short 10-20 second sprints between those lines. Have a short 8-15 second break after the set before taking another sprint.

This is a great conditioning exercise for the volleyball player since it imitates the rallies and breaks in the match.
Shuffle Between the Lines
One great variation of suicides is shuffling between center line and 10 foot line. Players should use volleyball footwork while shuffling. Shuffling phase should be short, for example around 5-15 seconds. Have a short 8-15 second break between each set.
Off the Floor:
Line up the team at the back end of the court with each player lying on his or her front side. When the coach blows the whistle, have each player, one by one, leap up from the ground to the net and spike a ball thrown by the coach.  Alternatively players can dive or roll in the defensive position before getting up and performing a spike.

This exercise is good for recovery training. It helps players to recover after a short burst of action and also helps them get up quickly. It’s a bad habit for a player who just dove deep for a bump to stay on the ground too long - the volley may come his or her way again. Running this drill will help reduce that time and increase responsiveness after recovery.

Volleyball Conditioning Exercises - Plyometrics:

Anything related to plyometrics makes for excellent volleyball conditioning. Plyometrics typically involve quick shifting of stance in a lateral or rotational motion to generate power and core stability.

Here are a few examples of plyometrics exercises that will help boost footwork and agility:
Lateral Leap Frog Squats:
Get in a squat position with your legs in a wide stance and your toes pointed outward. Keep your arms forward for stability. Side step to the right by bringing your left leg in first, then your right leg out. Sidestep back to center by bringing your right leg in first, then putting your left leg out.
Lateral Lunges
Stand up in volleyball player's "ready position". Step your right leg out to the side as far as you can and bend the knee until you are in a low lateral lunge. Push back to center and repeat on the opposite side.
Medicine Ball Plyo Push Up
Place a medicine ball or other suitable object for balance work in front of your chest as you prepare for a push-up. Walk your hands to the left and place your right hand on the medicine ball, descending downward into the push. Walk your hands to the opposite side and repeat with the left hand on the medicine ball. Each of these exercises should typically be done in a circuit with a minimum of 15 - 30 repetitions per set, 30 seconds rest and 5 - 10 different exercises in the circuit. It’s usually optimal to alternate upper and lower plyometrics exercises to allow muscle recovery while a particular group is not being used, but not necessary.

Volleyball Conditioning Exercises - Ballistics:

A similar genre of fitness as plyometrics, ballistics is a term that refers generically to anything of a projectile nature.

In other words, as soon as something leaves the ground or the object supporting it to the ground, it’s now a part of a ballistic exercise. This may mean throwing a medicine ball, a lightly loaded barbell, or even your own body weight. These exercises are essential to increasing your vertical jump height.
Here are a few examples about Ballistics:
Squat with Medicine Ball Throw
Squat down with a medicine ball in your hands. As you come back up, throw the medicine ball directly overhead as high as you can. Catch and repeat.

This is a great exercise for improving your leg strength and core stability.  It is obvious the strong push with the legs and arms increases your vertical jump, but it also strengthens your bump stance. Your legs, core and hands in the squat imitates the bump stance almost exactly but using extra resistance with the medicine ball. You can also throw the ball towards a wall or back and forth with a partner.
Overhead Medicine Ball Throw with Twist
Grab a partner and a medicine ball and face each other. Have the first person twist backwards with the medicine ball in hand, then throw it overhand to the other person, who catches the ball and does the same. Repeat on both sides for 8 - 30 repetitions per set - depending on intensity and weight.

This is a great exercise for core stability and can help increase the power of your spike. The overhand throw motion imitates the spike using extra resistance from the medicine ball.
Squat Jump
Place yourself in a standard squat position. When you rise up, jump so that your feet leave the ground by a foot or two.

This is an essential volleyball conditioning exercise for increasing the height of your vertical jump. For extra resistance, place a lightly loaded barbell on your back.

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