We’re all out there looking hard, trying to find the holy grail in our sport. It’s there somewhere, hidden under the ball cart or in the lost and found in the changing rooms, or somewhere! In volleyball, our holy grail is the answer to the simple question: How can I jump higher?
If this simple question had a simple answer, we would all have a huge vertical leap and probably be a starting player on our national team. But unfortunately, most of us don’t. And most of us aren’t. However hard we try, it seems those hands never get any higher over the net.
One stop on this journey that we travel to find an answer for this increasingly convoluted question, is plyometric training. This specific kind of training involves rebounding from one jump (or any kind of movement) to another with the shortest possible time in contact with the ground. In theory, the time taken to change from eccentric muscle contraction (lengthening) to concentric muscle contraction (shortening) must be below 250 milliseconds to be classed as plyometric, so it’s pretty fast!
Ideally, this style of training should increase strength and improve the efficiency of the stretch-shortening cycle. With that, we must take another step further down the rabbit hole and dive deeper into our journey by asking…
What is the Stretch-Shortening Cycle?
It is an active stretch (eccentric contraction) of a muscle followed by an immediate shortening (concentric contraction) of the same muscle. This action takes advantage of the elastic component of the muscle fibres, allowing you to apply more force to the floor and jump higher. So, for a movement to be plyometric, the time taken to change from eccentric to concentric muscle contraction needs to be fast, resulting in a rapid ground contact time.
Now we’ve drawn out answers to these fundamental questions, we start getting onto the trail for our holy grail! Are volleyball jumps plyometric?! Are they important in our sport? In short, yes! And plyometric training has been shown in recent research to significantly improve jump height, over a period as short as 3 weeks. The main questions are:
What effect will this have on myself or athletes?
How will this effect on-court training?
How much do I need to do to get results?
How do I measure the results?
Will this put me or the athletes I work with at risk of injury OR will it help prevent injury?
My quest to find this holy grail, as these journeys tend to, started with a question. A seemingly simple question, which I will endeavour to answer over several upcoming articles. This is just the first in a series discussing plyometric training and how we can utilise this modality of training to improve our jump performance, with the ultimate goal to better our volleyball performance and increase court time.
Hoping to guide you through the journey with a helping hand from VS to provide support and information to the volleyball family
Alex is currently the 1st team setter for Vingåker Volleyball Klubb, as well as the strength and conditioning coach for the club. This gives him a great insight into the requirements of the sport of volleyball and how to train to improve around these requirements. Find him on Instagram @vvkstrengthcoach
Finding out more about how to grow your VERTICAL JUMP with PBJUMPS and pre-register for to receive hints and tips on increasing your height over the net!