February 13, 2012

Physical Training for pre-High School age players

Hey Coach,
It`s been a few months since I first e-mailed you about making club playing decisions for our daughter.  We decided to play our daughter up a year in 15`s for this club season. It`s been mostly good so far however our daughter is having to adjust to not being the big fish on the court.  
My question that I have now is in regards to appropriate volleyball work load for a 14 year old girl.  There are team practices 2-3 times a week plus recommended (voluntary) strength and conditioning another 1-2 times per week.  Also, individual skill training available another one time per week. A lot of this training I feel is a bit much but I see other girls her age doing it so part of me feels that my daughter will be left behind if we don`t do it all. I want to prepare my daughter for high school varsity next fall but I also want to manage her time to where she is not in the gym 6 days a week.  Also, please specifically advise me on what types of physical strength and conditioning training you feel is appropriate for a 14 year old girl and how often? 
As always, thanks for your insight.

That can be a big Volleyball adjustment; training with and playing against athletes one year older!  I think the two biggest physical jumps for a Volleyball player are Freshman to Sophomore year in High school and Freshman to Sophomore year in College.



When they Volleyball practice.

Those are my specific answers for appropriate lifting, conditioning and when for 14 year old players.

Because of Football, we are a Lift Happy athletic society.  Everyone thinks we have got to start lifting early and often, and then if we are not lifting we should be doing some type of cardio/speed system that the US Navy Seals use.

I make this argument because of all the countries that I have had the pleasure of experiencing Volleyball (Brazil, Puerto Rico (well, kinda its own country), Switzerland, Serbia, Romania, Japan, etc), then don't lift young, and sometimes not at all.  I used to have Brazilian players come into my College Volleyball program who could not even lift the bar in bench press, but they were light years ahead of my DI American players in ability, ball control, understanding of the game, passion, etc.

Also, I am see more cases of young players having shin splints, stress fractures, aching backs, etc. than I can ever remember and I absolutely believe this is because young bodies are being pushed too hard too soon.

At her age, the best thing she can do is focus upon skill development; the physical improvements will come just as her body naturally matures.  What you don't want to create is a stud 15 year old, and a chronically kinda hurt 17 year old, because this will result in a non-college playing 18 year old.

If she is having good practices 2 to 3 times a week (and I mean a solid practice, at a good tempo, with plenty of touches on the ball), then I would not do anything more more.  If the practice sessions are 1 good and 2 marginal, then maybe consider an additional skill training segment.

But, no lifting/conditioning, as she should be getting this in the practice sessions.  What you don't want is your pre-PSA (not yet a 9th grader) in the gym 5 days a week, and then competition on the weekend.  This is the perfect recipe for later club and high school Volleyball burnout.  

Take the Brazilian path to her Volleyball development - Be in the gym a few days a week, getting quality touches and having a balanced life.


  1. Coach, thank you for the post from the SJ family. Want to thank you even more for your responses. Over training is everywhere for young kids who hasn't start high school yet. Very grateful to your site. Thanks a million.

  2. I would suggest to start working on CORE strength...

    al she needs right now is to do push-ups & crunches, planks, agility & footwork stuff etc..


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