With volleyball season quickly approaching, you only have a few more weeks to relax before gearing up and getting in shape, right? Absolutely wrong – when you’re training to be the best, the “off-season” is the key to improving your game. Off the mark speed, endurance, strength – these are all qualities of a truly exemplary player, and can be honed well before your first practice. Let’s break down the five keys to successful volleyball training to guarantee you’re winning from game one.

The first skill that often comes to mind is agility. Volleyball doesn’t necessitate running for long distances. Any player can get a leg up by running volleyball drills to improve their off the mark speed. To improve your agility, incorporate several agility drills into your workout routine. The key is variety – beyond basic sprints, also master exercises like ladder drills to improve coordination and leg speed, and exercises utilizing resistance parachutes to overcome inertia. I know it looks silly! But you’ll thank us when you’re dashing to the net before your opponents even have time to shift their weight.

Obviously, another key factor in destroying the competition is strength. All the legwork in the world can’t properly counteract a crushing serve. To unlock your strength, hold yourself accountable to go to the gym at least 3 times per week. Off-season workouts should focus on dumbbell-assisted squats, bench presses, lunges, pullovers, and lateral raises. While machines can be great, relying on dumbbell exercises and free weights forces you to focus on form, improving coordination and control as you beef up for the season.

Third, your endurance must be exercised. Speed and power can’t do you much good if you’re huffing and puffing ten minutes into the game. For the best volleyball training results you should run a steady amount of endurance exercises one after the other to work different areas of your body. Try a 75-minute workout of running, biking, swimming, jogging, and rowing for 15 minutes each. You’ll hate it then, but you’ll love it when you win on game day.

There’s also an intense psychological factor that comes into play with volleyball. Staying sharp when you’re uncomfortable and exhausted may seem all mental, but there a ton of ways to increase your “psychological” edge as well. First, crank up the heat! Try a cardio workout in a room heated to 90+ degrees. In addition, if you have key exercises that you can’t stand – wall sits, for example – include drills that require you to do them over and over, and hold them much longer than usual. With responsible care (don’t overdo it, you have to be alive for volleyball season) these exercises will increase your willpower.

Last but not least, be sure to include aerobic and stretching workouts to keep your muscles activated. Doing yoga over the summer and including stretch-only workouts helps prevent injuries and keeps you flexible in games. With these tips, you’re sure to slay this volleyball season, and every one after that.

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