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  • Writer's pictureMichael Richards

In-Season training for Volleyball athletes

Updated: Sep 8, 2019

Michael Richards

ISSA Certified Strength and Conditiong Coach

Owner: Elite Athletic Performance LLC

18 years of experience training athletes


Published Author:

Your Student Athlete; Should Do, Must Do, and Don’t

Every year about this time I’m reminded of two things.

First is How much I love training volleyball players. Never has there been a sport more exactly in my wheelhouse than Volleyball.

No coordinating throwing programs with strength training and balancing time spent in the cage versus weight room versus arm care program. Just Jump higher, hit harder, win more.


Freaking awesome.

Second, is the uptick in emails and texts I’m going to get from parents inquiring about Volleyball training.

The conversations go something similar to this.

Parent: Hi!

When do your volleyball specific workouts start? My daughter needs to increase her vertical jump.

Me: Well they technically never end. We just adjust the training program schedule for our volleyball crew depending on what their current competitive schedule looks like(we do this for every sport).

We can’t really do a ton of traditional things that “look” like vertical jump training inseason. The last thing you want to do is add more jumping when they’re already doing so much in practice and games. But I’d be willing to bet we can make substantial gains simply by helping your daughter gain strength.

7 out of 10 parents: 🦗🦗🦗’s

2 out of 10 parents: Really?! I had no idea! Sounds good.

1 out of 10: Whatever. Just make her jump higher.

🛑In-season Plyometric work🛑

Plyometrics, also known as jump training or plyos, are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed-Strength)

Look plyos are great, when used properly. But in-season for an athlete that plays a sport that inherently involves a ton of jumping and cutting and sudden bursts of movement, ain’t the time.

Plyos are great for inseason baseball guys, to maintain Explosiveness because baseball doesn’t require that kind of movement on a large scale. This is why inseason our guys hit as much from their non-dominant side as they do their dominant. Everything needs balance.

Jumping 200 times in a game, then 200 more times at practice and 150 times at a workout the next day is not exactly balanced.(I have no idea a reasonable number of Jumps)

You’ve got to look at jumping similar to how we look at pitch counts in baseball.

The body can only take so much.

Funny part is, in many cases, the jumping isn’t the problem, LANDING is the issue.


The vast majority of HS kids ESPECIALLY female athletes are not strong enough to withstand the repeated blows to their body caused when landing back on the ground after jumping.

In layman terms, An athlete that doesn’t have baseline adequate general strength levels are not strong enough to keep their joints in place, or in line. However you want to think of it. Joints that aren’t “in place” either lead to, or are in and of themselves, injuries.

Always remember, in God’s grand design, our muscles are an intricate system of movable casts for our bones and joints. Performance is the least of your problems if you can’t keep your bones in place, orthopedically speaking.

When I say “baseline” I mean this is a minimum, not a stopping point.

When I say “adequate” I’m talking about

Bench Press 125% (of body weight for one rep)

Squat 175%

Deadlift 225-250%

Reverse Lunge 135-150%

Chin-ups 200lb total for one rep (body weight + weight added to reach 200)

When I say “General Strength” I’m talking about being strong from toenails to hairline.

Why do chin-up and bench press numbers matter when talking about jumping? Because landing on the ground sends a shockwave up the body. A shockwave that is basically looking for weak links to exploit. If the lower body is strong, and the upper isn’t, pain and injury will simply manifest in the upper extremities rather than lower.

Gravity, is a psychopathic, workaholic with sadist tendencies. It doesn’t stop trying to hurt you if the lower half of your body is strong enough to resist its efforts.

Gravity will hurt you at every chance it is given.

Being weak, focusing on performance training before being adequately strong enough to withstand it, is a feeding frenzy for this maniac.

I actually catch a ton of flack because I have said before I’m not a big fan of the Vertimax for HS athletes.

*I have literally been offered a fist fight for having this opinion before. If you’re that guy,or girl. Chill out.*

Not because it doesn’t “work”(Work is such a relative term btw).

I’ve never said it won’t provide a training effect but keep this quote in mind when considering this topic.

“Everything works. Some things work better than others. Nothing works forever.”

-Mark Rippetoe

Author of

Starting Strength (this is the first prerequisite for people wanting to train athletes)

Practical Programming for Strength Training

Mean Ol’ Mr. Gravity

Strong Enough???

Basic Barbell Training Log

Here‘s my deal, for how long?

Athletic development is a long term endeavor.

When using a Vertimax, eventually you run out tension in the bungee chords used to resist the athlete.

Strength coaches have been using bands and chains to do this for years. It’s called accommodating resistance. It was popularized by Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell in like the 80’s.

Full disclosure: I was dazzled by the Vertimax the first time I saw one too.

But, over time observing its use first hand, I was reminded of one of the first laws you learn with regard to training the human body. It is called the

General Adaptation Syndrome(GAS).

No real surprise here but the body adapts to stress it’s put under so it won’t be as stressful the next time it encounters said stress.

This is literally the foundation of training.

-Create stress in a controlled and planned training environment

-The body adapts to said stress in order to make it less stressful the next time it encounters said stress

-Recover from the stress event

-Rinse and repeat with a slightly larger amount of stress.

This is how we keep the GAINZ TRAIN on its tracks ya digg!

Eventually, when the chord tension on a Vertimax runs out, you have no more stress left to add to the athlete’s training regiment.

Show me an athlete that doesn’t get a steady dosage of NEW stress in their training program and I will show you an athlete that has not progressed.

So if there is no new stress, what is being accomplished?

BUT, having said all of that,

I’m a libertarian,

I believe in intervening only when I can help someone avoid physical harm. Wasting time, is not physically harming so I’m good.

Knee Valgus

Where I really run into a problem with the Vertimax is athletes who are weak, and present with clear knee valgus indicators, being allowed to train using a Vertimax.

What is Knee Valgus?

Look at Comment 1 below. Wix is being annoying and not letting me add pictures to my blog.

Remember what I said earlier regarding athletes not being strong enough to “control” their joints.

This is more complex than that. Knee Valgus can easily be worsened by lifting weights if the coach in charge of the weight room doesn’t know exactly what they’re looking for.

Long story short, every Squat,Deadlift,power clean,push press, hang clean,Lateral jump, quarter jump, full jump,box jump and lunge, among other things the athlete performs without correcting a pattern of knee Valgus is another bit of confirmation to the athlete’s brain that this is the proper way for them to move, when in fact, it’s a very detrimental way to move.

I’ve often said, we obviously have no “Crystal Ball” with regard to injury and predicting it, but knee valgus is about as close as it gets. An athlete presenting with knee Valgus that plays and practices a sports is pretty much a ticking time bomb.

Our knees simply just don’t go that way. The knee is what is called a Hinge Joint. It swings two directions, forward and back. Knee valgus is like trying to move a door in your house by grabbing the corner and pushing or pulling up or down.

Females are much more prone to knee valgus than males. Especially the ones with long femurs.

However, the most high profile knee valgus case you might be familiar with was actually a male, a very popular college and NFL Quarterback named Robert Griffin the 3rd. You might remember him as “RG3”.

In his sophomore year at Baylor and again his rookie year with the Washington Redskins he tore his ACL. The latter, being more like, destroyed/obliterated his ACL along with his LCL and Meniscus.

This guy remains one of my favorite athletes. It breaks my heart for him. He was mishandled in Washington and he never has gotten back on track. If you aren’t familiar with him, YouTube some his highlights from college. Absolutely electric athlete.

There is a very clear photo from the NFL combine of him performing the broad jump test with the clearest presentation of Knee Valgus you could possibly ask for(see below)

Look at comment 2 thanks a lot Wix

How no one in Washington’s medical department didn’t catch this is baffling. How Baylor’s strength staff didn’t catch it is even more baffling. We correct this all the time. It’s simple to spot and not really that hard to fix. It just takes time and a coach that cares enough to keep a watchful eye on it.

So what should volleyball players be doing in season?

First let me give a brief explanation of the speed strength continuum.

Look at comment 3 because Wix is stupid today

In all continuum’s, at least the ones regarding athletic performance, whether it be flexibility versus stiffness, speed versus strength, or whatever else you want to compare, the athlete needs to be in the middle of the continual for best results. Practices and games pull the athlete way over onto the speed side of the continuum. For the sake of the athletes health and performance they need to be pulled back to the center of the continuum with general strength training movements. For the record, if you listen to me talk or read my blogs very often you hear that term a lot and are probably sick of it, well let me tell you, you are no more sick of it than I am. I get sick of saying it it feels like I’m a broken record but it is absolutely the missing link in 99 out of 100 College age and below athletes that I see. And that is why I am constantly repeating it.

With regard to the volleyball player, you have to be careful to not overload them the other direction as well, obviously. Each athlete has a “training dollar” to spend each day. All these plyometrics in practices and games are using the majority of that dollar but we have to use the last dime that is left there basically to maintain their strength levels. I always tell are in season athletes we are making sure that their brain and their muscles are communicating as well as they possibly can. As an athlete gets weaker, that communication line starts to frey.

This is why I am always hounding our in season athletes to finish or begin their sessions in one of our recovery methods like the Rapid Reboots, MarcPro EStim(Not a TENs Unit), Vibration Ball, Body Tempering, etc. these recovery modalities actually earn back a small portion of that dollar.

Hopefully this has helped you understand What you need to be doing while your competitive season is going on. If you are a parent, maybe it shed some light on why I am such a stickler for the boring stuff such as proper squat technique, hip hinging, push-ups, benchpress, chin-ups, and lunging.

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out.

Thank you for reading!

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Your Student Athlete; Must Do, Should Do, and Don’t

The “Owner’s Manual” for parents to maximize their kid’s time, help them perform better, and avoid injury

255 views3 comments


Michael Richards
Michael Richards
Sep 06, 2019

Comment 3 Speed/Strength Continuum


Michael Richards
Michael Richards
Sep 06, 2019

Comment 2 RG3


Michael Richards
Michael Richards
Sep 06, 2019

Comment 1 Knee Valgus

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