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How to Warm Up For Volleyball

What is the purpose of a warm-up? The answer is, “To prepare for competition or training.” It’s pretty simple, but sometimes that gets forgotten. With this idea in mind we can rephrase the concept of the title of this article to something like “How to Get Ready to Play Volleyball”. It doesn’t roll off the tongue as smoothly, but it makes the point.

So, having recast our subject, let me ask another question. Does jog-and-stretch get you ready for playing volleyball?

If you don’t know the answer to that, it’s a resounding “NO!” There are two reasons for this.

First, jogging plays absolutely no part in volleyball, so running a few laps around the court isn’t going to get you ready to play in any meaningful fashion. Sure, if you do it enough your legs will get warm, but not in a way that supports the type of explosive action you’ll be performing when the whistle blows. Let’s not even get into the fact that it does nothing for key parts of the body like the shoulders and core.

“But that’s where the stretching part comes in”, you may be thinking.

Hate to burst your bubble, but the second issue with jog-and-stretch is static stretching of the sort we most often see serves little purpose before competition or training. Research has found no evidence that it helps prevent injury. In fact, there are some suggestions it could actually reduce performance temporarily by forcing muscles to relax. Static stretching is good for developing flexibility once your muscles are already well warmed-up, but that’s about it.

So what’s the alternative?

Dynamic warm-ups have become common practice at nearly all levels of play in recent years. A quick search on Google or YouTube will lead you to plenty of examples of these types of routines. They are favored because they put muscles and joints through active range-of-motion movements, increasing blood flow in a way which is closer to the way the body will be used in competition.

Or you could just do volleyball stuff.

If you really want to get ready to play volleyball, do what’s involved in playing volleyball. There is a reason why pepper is so commonly part of pre-match and pre-training routines. It includes most of the skills one is getting ready to use, and if done properly, can do a great job of warming up the muscles and joints.

This is not me suggesting the only thing a player should do to warm-up is pass-set-hit with a partner, though. I’m just making the point that preparing to play may be best done by performing volleyball skills and movements in a lower intensity fashion. That way, not only does your body getted warmed-up, so does your brain, which is at least equally important.

John H Forman