Strong Volleyball Core without Crunches

Ed Chan
Swiss ball supermans, D

With athletic training quickly advancing, crunches are rapidly becoming extinct for athletes wanting to improve performance. Feeling a burn in the abdominals is no longer satisfactory as training the nervous system properly is the ultimate to unlocking your potential.

Volleyball players have to consider more than just core strength and stability when designing a training regime. Properly assessing how your body moves during a match is also important to training your core properly. This also means understanding that your core is not just your rectus abdominals or visual “six pack.” Our obliques, transverse abdominals, and all of the muscles extending up to our mid-back are some of the many groups that work together as our core stabilizers.

Keys to Core Training and the Relation to Volleyball Performance

STRENGTH Spiking and holding firm blocks both involve an element of core strength.
STABILITY Balancing while executing fine motor skills, such as passing and spiking, is critical to success.
POWER A player’s ability to generate a large force over a short period of time is what makes great spikers in volleyball.
FUNCTIONAL Having a strong core is useless in volleyball if you cannot translate that strength into skill development via functional movements.

3 Key Moves to Core Activation

Controlled Tuck Jumps

Set up Start standing with feet shoulder width apart, chest up with arms ready to help explode upward. (A)
Execution


  • Quickly lower yourself to a spike approach depth while extending your arms behind the hips. (B)

  • Explode upward, raising both knees to hip height. (C)

  • Concentrate on balancing each landing before initiating another repetition.

Tip Try progressing to repeated tuck jumps, quickly bounding back into the air for multiple repetitions.

SETS: 3
REPS: 10
REST: 60 seconds

Alternating Swiss Ball Supermans

Set up Hold a prone (plank) position with a Swiss ball balanced underneath your lower abdominals. Your hands and toes should be touching the ground.
Execution


  • Simultaneously raise your left arm (thumb pointing vertically) and right leg toward the sky. (D)

  • Pause for three seconds at peak contraction.

  • Repeat movement with opposite arm and leg. (E)

Tip Maintain a neutral spine by keeping your eyes focused on the space between your hands. Do not look up into the distance or tuck your chin into your chest. (F)

SETS: 4
REPS: 10 per side
REST: 60 seconds

Press + T-Rotation

Set up Hold a prone (plank) position with a neutral spine, arms straight and eyes looking between the hands. (G)
Execution


  • Descend into a pushup position and then simultaneously press upward while rotating your left extended arm through a large semicircular arc with the right arm supporting your body weight. (H)

  • Pause and briefly hold this “T” position (right arm extended supporting body, left arm extended horizontally, eyes looking left). (I)

  • Trace your left arm through the arc, returning to the original prone plank position.

  • Repeat the movement, this time rotating to the right with left arm extended supporting the body and right arm moving through a large arc to finish facing your right.

Tip If you are finding the rotation portion of this movement difficult, try narrowing your stance in the original plank position.

SETS: 3
REPS: 8 per side
REST: 60 seconds

Fitness model is Monica Malosky of San Diego. All apparel worn in this shoot was generously donated by Under Armour. Catalyst short-sleeve T, $30; ColdGear Fierce Tight, $60; Tepin Training Shoes, $80, ua.com

Originally published in March/April 2012

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