For most volleyball players, summer is dedicated to intense training to build strength for the fall season. Once practice begins, the endless hours of preparation over the past few months begin to pay off.
But how do you maintain that strength as you become mentally and physically exhausted with practice and games every day of the week?
Here are four ways to stay strong and keep healthy during the season:
Volleyball Training Tip No.1: Heal
Don't skip the athletic training room. If you have one, use it. Take an extra 30 minutes before and after practice to heat, ice, whirlpool or Stim (Electronic Stimulation) treat your problem areas. Don't let the soccer or football teams intimidate you--shove those guys out of the way and plop yourself into an ice-cold whirlpool for 20 minutes to soothe your sore knees.
If you don't have a training room, try this D.I.Y. solution: fill a one-gallon Ziploc bag with cubed ice and put it on your tender joints every night. Leave on for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off --then repeat 2-3 times.
Or draw a cold bath, add some ice and dive in. The extra time you take to treat your body and help it recover will pay off as you battle your way through the season.
Volleyball Training Tip No.2: Stretch
Incorporate yoga into your routine at least once a week. Whether you are crouched low to dig or arched high to block, volleyball is a game that depends on core strength and balance. Yoga is a low-impact activity that focuses on both balance and flexibility.
It will help you stretch out those sore muscles without straining them, while keeping you light on your feet. There are also the mental benefits of a soothing, calm hour of what many consider a meditative practice.
Volleyball Training Tip No.3: Resist
Forsake the heavy weights for resistance bands. Resistance bands come with various types of tension and can be used in all directions so you can get a 360-degree workout for your muscles.
Do a few sets--with high repetitions--and you will feel the effect, but without the burden of gravity pulling down on you as it would with a squat bar. You can get all the benefits of maintaining strength, via a gentler method for your muscles. The bands are travel-friendly and can be used anywhere-- take them with you to away games or bring them home on weekends.
Volleyball Training Tip No.4: Refuel
You hear it over and over: nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. Sure you get sick of being lectured about it; and when you're tired from practice and don't want to cook, that fast food place on the corner looks awful good.
But the inconvenient truth is eating healthy and drinking lots of water can make a world of difference, both in your energy level during practice or your recovery time afterwards. Drop that chicken nugget and cook up some salmon. It will be worth it the next day when your coach keeps you in a digging drill until you want to pass out.
The goal of every athlete is to improve skills and win games. Take the extra steps you need to keep up your strength during the season. It will pay off by keeping you healthy and on the court!