Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Training: Got Sand?

Training tips to help with your game

I am often asked three questions about training during the volleyball offseason:

“How do I jump higher?”
“How do I get to more digs?”
“How do I hit the ball harder?”

My answer: “Get sandy!”

I have done research and have many ideas but the one common denominator I have for all of these questions is to just go play beach volleyball! Playing in the sand is the answer for almost every off-season question. Playing in the sand has provided plyometric, cross training and cross fit benefits long before these training techniques were in vogue.

The best volleyball team in the world for the past twenty five years has been the Brazilian National Teams. For the first week of every season, their mastermind coach has his team play 6v6 sand volleyball using an indoor ball. He runs the same technical and fast paced offense in the sand as he does on the hardwood. He believes the sand cures volleyball athletes of all ailments from playing a nine month season on terrible hard floors in pro leagues.

I don’t think the beach can cure everything, but aside from an occasional sunburn, there are relatively few negative side effects to playing sand volleyball. When athletes do get hurt in the sand, the injury is usually easily treated and just as preventable as a sun burn. As my PT buddy explains, “Playing volleyball on sand improves joint proprioception.” In layman’s terms, playing sand volleyball is like playing on a giant Bosu Ball! Since sand is not a controlled environment, every jump and landing will be different which results in essentric and concentric contractions. As a result, the body adapts to this plyometric environment with huge improvement in strength to the muscles that support the joints. Athletes get stronger in the sand with every dig, block and spike since the brain and spinal column has to fire more sensory information (proprioception) to the ligaments, tendons and muscles in a joint. Playing on the sand creates a dynamic stability issue—but with a soft landing!

To read the rest of this article, check out the Spring 2014 issue in High School Illustrated – South Orange County for iPad, completely free on the App Store.

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