As volleyball players, there is probably nothing we want more than to be able to jump out the roof, get our chest above the net, and to fly high. Whether it be to bounce the ball ten foot line or to make huge blocks, it’s something we want and work for.
Here are my Top 5 Exercises to help improve your vertical jump for volleyball performance..
This one is probably a pretty obvious choice. You want to improve leg strength and capacity? Squat, squat, squat!!!
Squats hit a lot of muscles, from your quads in the front to your glutes, hamstrings, and even your calves, in the back.
When performing squats a question I often get asked is squat depth and how deep should I go? Do I need to go all the way down or “a%# to grass”? That’s a topic we can discuss for a while and people may have varying opinions on, but if your goals are to build strength to jump higher, I say squat at least below parallel. This does not mean you should not have the ability to squat to depth though.
2) Trap Bar Deadlift
While other deadlifting variations (conventional, sumo, snatch grip, and others) are not bad, I specifically like the trap bar deadlift to improve vertical jump. The set up and movement pattern of a trap bar deadlift is very similar to that of the vertical jump. The weight is centered when using the trap bar, which allows your torso to stay more up right like it would be when performing a vertical jump. The way the weight sits also reduces stress on the lower back. Also, using the trap bar, there’s greater quad activation, a muscle group crucial to jumping higher.
From a coaching stand point it’s an easier exercise to learn and coach. This will allow for increased proficiency, safety, and greater load relatively quickly.
3) Squat to Press a.k.a. Thrusters
These are an excellent exercise to help train your vertical for volleyball, specifically as a blocker. If you haven't done these before, this is a squat to a pressing motion, which is just like your two step or side step block. Not only are you adding load to the arms and working on arm strength/movement, but you’re also incorporating footwork and training the pattern as a whole.
There are many different variations in terms of equipment that you can perform these with. You'll see in the videos below I use kettlebells, dumbbells, and a band.
I really love the bands because of the way the loading and tension is with them. Also, because of the hip resistance and activation when performing the sidestep blocking footwork. When doing the side stepping, keep the bend in the knees and stay in a bit of a partial squat.
4) Depth Jumps
These are a form of plyometrics that when performed and programmed correctly can really help you boost your vertical. The greatest benefit of depth jumps or plyometric activities in general, is that they help train the body, beyond the aspect of just strength.
Depth jumps are considered a reactive ability exercise and teaches the body how to absorb energy and then immediately transfer that energy. The recipe for a strong vertical is not only strength, but speed as well. You have to be able to generate a lot of force, but just as importantly, you have to do it quickly.
When performing these you do not want to spend a lot of time on the ground or loading into a full squat before jumping up. Think of the ground as a “hot skillet” or “lava”. Be quick! Don’t let your feet get burned!.
5) Hang Power Clean
The hang power clean is an Olympic weightlifting movement that requires a lot of force, speed, and power, all the things a great vertical jump requires. It’s one of the best ways to take and convert all the strength you developed, from your squats and deadlifts, into power.
This is definitely a more advanced movement though and takes proper coaching and practice. If you are more of a beginner lifter, take your time to get coached on and to learn this movement before loading up. An alternative for you until could be the Overhead Medicine Ball Throw
The Overhead Medicine Ball Throw allows for a lot of explosiveness and power just like the hang power clean, but it is much easier to coach and to execute. Another perk of it is that since you are allowed to release the medicine ball, you will feel comfortable really exploding and driving all the way through with all your power.
I really think these are great exercises to improve your vertical jump, but obviously there are a lot more out there. You can make an argument for different ones and I definitely had trouble even narrowing it down to these five.
I want to highlight and mention that there is a lot more to improving your vertical jump than just doing these five exercises. There are a lot of different factors to take into account, like what type of jumper you are, your skill level with training/jumping, and how to program these or other exercises to get you the best results, both safely and efficiently.
Stay tuned for other posts in the future, where we will discuss more about these other factors.