July 15, 2010

Volleyball Pre-Season Practice Preparation

OK - Say that title 5 times as fast as you can!!!

The start of College and High School Volleyball season practice is less than 3 weeks away. What should you be doing as a player? Glad you asked!:

College Player - You need to be working out HARD right now. You should have been working out all summer, but if that kinda did not happen, then you need to get yourself into shape starting right now (seriously, if you are a College Volleyball player, then I want you to stop reading this right now and go for a run). College Volleyball players don't have the luxury of getting into shape after they arrive onto campus - Like soccer players, Volleyball players must arrive in shape or it is too late. If you think you can practice into shape, then you are opening yourself up to repetitive stress injuries and not giving your best volleyball self to the program. It does not matter if you are on a full or partial scholarship or a walk on player - As a member of a College Volleyball team you have the responsibility to represent yourself and your school at the highest level of ability. If you have made the mistake of blowing off the lifting and conditioning program provided to you, then the best thing you can do (RIGHT NOW) is focus during these last few weeks on cardio training. It is better to arrive to campus in proper aerobic condition, than it is to arrive strong. It looks great to squat your aunt and uncle from Walla Walla, Washington, but if you can't run 10 laps around the court without sucking in air like a old AC unit, then you are in trouble. Showing up to practice in poor physical condition is guaranteed to make your coach beyond angry (clinical term for extreme displeasure directed towards you); it is disrespectful to the staff and your team mates. Volleyball is a slam season - Tournaments are 3 and 4 matches over two days which can add up to 15 to 20 games within 36 hours - Are you ready to play 20 games in 36 hours? If not, then it is time to get ready.

High School Player just finishing Club - If you just finished your Club Volleyball season with one of the 3 major national champions (AAU's, USA Volleyball or Volleyball Festival), then you should be resting right now. Odds are that you have just completed a Volleyball season which ran from Thanksgiving to near July 4th. That is a lot of pounding on cement convention center courts and a gazillion jumps including practice. Don't start right in with your high school conditioning/lifting program, do not start doing plyometric jump training - This is the recipe for stress fractures and severe tendinitis. Your body needs to rest; you won't get drastically out of shape by taking two to three weeks off after the conclusion of the Club Volleyball season - If your high school coach goes ballistic, tell the coach to contact me and I will take the blame for you staying healthy and sane. About a week before you are scheduled to begin gym practice (that means touching a volleyball), then you should start doing some moderate distance running and a bit of sprinting; nothing crazy, just enough to get the muscles used to exerting some force and your cardio up a bit. Compared to those players who finished club in May or did not play club, your Volleyball skill sets and latent physicality from the Club season will put you ahead of your team mates. This is not The Coach's excuse (which is me, not anyone else who currently or previously coaches you - unless of course you happen to be one of my former players - would be crazy to think one of my former players is reading this blog not knowing I am their former coach!!!) to NOT do anything until practice; but rather this is a prescription to rest your body, then start to ramp it back up a week before starting the high school season.

High School Player with no Club Volleyball (or it ended way back in the spring) - You need to be working out now, with a focus on cardio and touching the Volleyball. It is amazing how good things happen when a Volleyball player actually touches a Volleyball between the end of one season and the start of another - It can be as simple as grabbing team mate and playing pepper for 30 minutes; no court needed, no net, no trainer, no water bottle from Mom, no shagging from Dad, no extra money from Grandpa on the sideline (which by the way, is one of my favorite visuals at Club Volleyball tournaments - Mom and Dad say good job, and Grandpa slips the grand daughter some cash so she can get something from the more expensive than an airport snack bar - priceless!). Just think about it - If you arrive to practice in good physical condition and having touched a volleyball in some capacity (camp, summer league, open gym at the school/church/ywca/ymca/ beach court) then you will be able to play better sooner and make a positive impression upon your coach which will translate into more playing time or playing at a higher level. I don't suggest you train as hard as the college volleyball player (who should not be back from the run I just sent them out for because they have been working on their tan instead of their explosive ability!), but get yourself into a condition where you can finish any practice drills or cardio work without gasping for air (Quick Tip, never bend over to breath, no matter how tired you are or how hard you are trying to catch your breath after the over under upside down ladder Tarantula sprint series - when you stand tall, you give the impression that you are ok, when you bend over to suck in air, you give the impression you are out of shape).

Lastly, if you are playing for a Chunky Monkey coach (great Ben and Jerry's flavor - I miss the retired Cool Britannia, but the Chubby Hubby calls me back like a Siren's Song), then send them the mental voice mail to get in shape. Vastly out of shape coaches (nice way of saying heck and gone from being lean) reflect poorly upon any sport and it is no different for volleyball - We all have a responsibility to represent our sport in the highest manner, especially when we are considered token by all too many others.

Now that I have made everyone feel guilty about themselves, including me, I am going to go work out!

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