Whether you are a defensive specialist, a setter, or an attacker, increasing your vertical and jump height will help you in your volleyball skills.
While playing the game over and over through practice will help fundamental skills, putting time in at the gym or track will increase your strength, speed, core, and vertical.
As a volleyball player, increasing your vertical can improve numerous volleyball skills including attacking, blocking, serving, and even defense.
Here are ten tips and workouts to increase your vertical, and a lot of them will contain what it takes to get that vertical up: jumping. Some people will already have a high vertical, and for others more work can be put in to create a higher jump.
1) Know Where You're Starting
The first tip to increase your vertical is to have a gauge of it. You need to know what your vertical is in order to increase it.
To do this, you can start off by standing next to a tall wall with a Post-It in your hand. Jump as high as you can and try to stick the Post-It at the highest point your hand can reach. Retest every two weeks or whatever increment you like and see if your vertical has increased.
There are many ways to test your vertical but having a number to start with will give you motivation to increase it and it will be a good test week by week to see how your jump is increasing.
2) Use A Jump Rope Often
While jumping rope isn't as fun as playing volleyball or doing fun challenges like 'box jumps', it is an effective way to increase your calf muscles while also working on cardio.
Jumping rope also increases your ankle and foot muscles, preventing the chance of sprain or injuries in the future as well. Constantly jumping will help get your body in the rhythm that it means to be jumping all the time, which is what front row players do in volleyball.
Watch the video above to learn about different ways to jump rope to increase your vertical jump.
3) Increase Explosiveness With Plyometrics
Increasing your explosiveness is key when trying to increase your vertical because explosiveness is all about exerting as much force as possible, very quickly. A routine of quick, forceful jumping movements called plyometrics is designed to increase your explosiveness, which will increase the height of your jump.
Plyometrics, a form of 'jump training', can include:
- Lateral Jumps (pushing off each leg as you jump from side to side)
- Single-Leg Bounds (jumping upwards with one leg)
- Squat Jumps
- Tuck Jumps
- Depth Jumps
- Split-Squat Jumps
- Broad Jumps
- Box Jumps
- Attack Jumps
- And a few others...
These jumping movements will, in time, create an explosiveness that will enable you to literally reach above your opponents. The more and more you jump, the higher you will be reaching.
It is also important to note that a volleyball approach jump is different than a block jump. Plyometrics can help you develop both of these skills as they are slightly different jumps in how you start and finish.
Continue to change up your jumps and routines to gain full reach, while also developing unique muscles to increase your longevity on the court.
4) Don't Forget To Bulk Up Your Lower Body
Plyometrics are not the only exercise needed to increase your vertical jump. Strength training, weightlifting, and resistance training are also invaluable ways to develop your leg muscles.
Gaining muscle in your lower body will enable you to be more powerful, move quicker across the court, and increase your endurance as you jump and shift for five sets.
Strength exercises like dead lifts and squats are controlled movements that will build power in your legs. To really add inches to your vertical, you will need to have a good balance of different types of training for the entirety of your volleyball career.
5) Fall In Love With Burpees
Even though they have one of the worst reputations, Burpees are another great way to help increase your vertical leap.
Long considered one of the most demanding resistance exercises, Burpees are among the most natural ways to teach athletes how to get into a position and explode into a leap using one swift motion. A favorite of Crossfit athletes who make them an essential part of most WODs, Burpees will also increase your endurance and help develop your upper body and core.
Working on all of these muscle groups will help your explosiveness and increase your vertical, while also helping you get more comfortable with other plyometric exercises.
6) Never. Ever. Forget To Stretch.
Exercise and strength training are not the only way to increase your vertical jump. Another great way to add some inches to your jumps is increasing your flexibility.
Flexibility does play a role in your vertical jump, and by becoming more limber, you'll be able to reach your highest range every time.
Three easy stretches you can do in every gymnasium are the:
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sit on the floor with both legs stretch flat against the surface. Tuck one foot into the inside knee of the other leg, while keeping that leg straight. Keep your toes flexed backward, aiming them at your torso. Hold the pose and reach both hands toward your foot and feel the burn.
Stair Calf Stretch
Find a step on the bleachers or somewhere outside of the court, place the ball of one or both of your feet on the edge so the rest of your foot is hanging in the air. Release your ankles towards the floor and you'll feel the stretch in your calves and the back of your thighs.
If you're stretching only one leg, lightly rest the other on the surface of the same step for balance, or rest it on the calf you are stretching as you bend your knee.
Seated Cross Stretch
Take one foot and cross it on top of the opposite leg, resting your ankle just above the knee.With the leg still firmly on the ground, start lowering your butt slowly towards the floor. As you sit down, you’ll feel your glutes expanding and relief in your IT band.
Stretching muscles that become tight and tense enables your muscles to avoid become restricted, and will help you to avoid cramps before, during, and after a long match on the sand or an indoor court.
7) A Solid Core Isn't Just For Beach Players
Other sports sometimes have a focus on the physical look of athletes due to physical contact being involved in the sport. Many people think height is the only metric college coaches look for in recruiting, but shorter hitters can make huge impacts if they have a great vertical reach after leaving the ground.
Because volleyball is not a contact sport, there is an even higher emphasis on what athletes can do in the open area. Like what you feel when you do Burpees, jumping and stability starts in your abdomens and your core.
Strengthening your core with ab workouts, planks, sit-ups, v-ups, and others will increase your stability and also help to increase your vertical.
Get jumping! The higher your vertical gets, the easier it will be to hit around or over the opponent's blockers, to block other hitters, to hit the ball downwards and achieve kills, and impact serves and back row attack capabilities.
Rebekah Morris is a contributing writer and former D-III volleyball player at Minnesota-Morris, with over a decade of experience at the club, high school, and collegiate levels. She currently serves as head coach at her former high school in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.