Cure Your Game

Add some medicine (ball) to your training regimen

Royce Deguzman
Establish more powerful use of your arms when you swing using the backward blast.

When volleyball athletes hit the gym or train for their sport, there is often a disconnect between the exercises they do and the movements they make on the court. Sure, we have all heard it is great for volleyball players to do pull ups or box jumps, but why? Which volleyball skills will you develop from which exercises?

When we design programs for Sara Hughes, John Mayer, and other athletes at Body Dynamix, we focus on how the movements performed and the muscles utilized during training will directly translate to the muscles and movements used on the court. With beach season well underway, we figured it would be fun and useful to learn some exercises to do with simply one 8-15 pound medicine ball and some sand. Each of these moves directly applies to a facet of your beach volleyball game. So catch some sun, get in beach shape, and take your skills to the next level this season!

Backward Overhead Blast

Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 blasts.

Starting Position

With the medicine ball between your feet, get into a deep squat position. Focus on keeping your chest up, feet shoulder-width apart, and your weight on your heels. (A)
Grip the ball and get ready to push.

Movement

Driving with force through your hips, push as hard as you can off the ground, and release the ball backward over your head. This motion should be as powerful as possible. (B)

Keep your core activated and strong, and try to generate as much force as you can in the least amount of time.

Chase the ball down, reset in starting position, and go again.

Effect on your game

Driving force through your hips to push off the ground will help you jump properly and efficiently when you hit or block. The swing and release with your arms will establish better, more powerful use of your arms when you jump to hit.

Tick-Tick-Boom Throw

Perform 2-3 sets of 5-6 throws from each side of your body.

Starting Position

Stand with your feet staggered, one in front of the other, and knees bent in a half squat. (C)

Holding the medicine ball with both hands, twist your body in the direction of your back leg.

Movement

In one motion, torque your body forward, and push through the medicine ball with both hands as hard as you can. (D)

Upon release of the ball, sprint hard to chase after it.

When you get to the ball, pick it up and restart, staggering your feet and twisting your body in the opposite direction.

Effect on your game

Stop-to-go quickness is one of the most important elements of volleyball, especially when waiting and reacting on backcourt defense. This exercise will help you explode powerfully out of a fully-stopped position.

Thurpee (Burpee with Throw)

Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 thurpees.

Starting Position

Get into a plank position with the medicine ball between your hands. Concentrate on keeping your core tight, back flat, and shoulders directly over your hands. (E)

Movement A

Keeping your core tight, pop your legs forward so that you land in a squat position with feet shoulder-width apart, back straight, weight on heels, and hands on the ball. (F)

Holding this deep squat position, quickly bring the ball up to your chest and get ready to push.

Movement B

Pushing with your hips, blast up hard, throwing the ball out from your chest. This movement, like the backward overhead throw, should be as explosive and powerful as possible, transferring force from your legs through your arms. (G)

Chase the ball, reset, and repeat. For an extra challenge, try adding a push up into the mix.

Effect on your game
No matter what position you play, you will inevitably end up on your stomach in the sand, needing to get up and move quickly at multiple points during a volleyball match. This exercise will help you to quickly transfer energy from the ground all the way into an upright and moving position so that you can get to balls faster. The explosive push off the ground will help your jumping ability too.

Tornado Toss

Perform 2-3 sets of 5-6 tosses from each side.

Starting Position

Get into a squat position with the ball just outside one of your feet.

Get down low and twist your upper body so that your hands are gripping the ball. (H)

Movement

In one powerful motion, blast up while twisting 180 degrees and release the ball directly behind you. (I)

Continue to twist your body so that you can turn and sprint hard after the ball. (J)

Get the ball, bring it back to the net, and repeat, twisting in the opposite direction.

Effect on your game

This fast turn and sprint off the net will really benefit blockers when pulling off the net in the event of a broken play or off set from the other team. If you are an indoor volleyballer, this motion will help you to transition off the net and prep to hit efficiently.

>> Check out more workouts from the Body Dynamix team!

Originally published in July 2013

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