If you watched the coverage of the 2008 Olympic beach volleyball games, you probably thought, “What’s with that tape on Kerri Walsh’s shoulder?” You weren’t alone. Turns out it’s a special athletic tape to help keep her shoulder healthy. Want to avoid this type of injury? Then you’ve got to take time to warm up.
Reminder: I’m not a medical professional. This information is based on my own personal experience.
Phase 1: Increase blood flow.
To stretch effectively you need to have some blood flowing already, so we need to get our heart rates up a little without overdoing it. Three to five minutes on a stationary bike or a few laps around the gym at an easy pace will do the trick. You should be breathing heavier than when you started but certainly not out of breath.
Phase 2: Stretch. Stretch. Stretch.
You do a lot of explosive movements in volleyball, so it’s important for your muscles to be stretched out before hand. Focus on your shoulders, quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves, as these will be your primary muscle groups for most volleyball movements.
For a good guide to basic stretches, check out Active.com’s 10 Muscle Groups Every Volleyball Player Must Stretch.
Phase 3: Volleyball Skill Warmup
Once your muscles are warm and stretched, it’s time to get them ready to play volleyball. Start by standing 15 feet away from a partner or a wall, and throw the ball back and forth. Use both arms, and throw the volleyball straight to your partner 5-10 times and then bounce it on the ground between you 5-10 times. Now use both arms to throw, again a few times straight to your partner and a few times bouncing the ball on the ground between you.
You can also throw the ball up in the air and hit it down between you and your partner to simulate a volleyball attack swing, just keep it under control or you’ll spend your whole warm up time chasing the ball.
Finally, start passing, setting and hitting the ball with your partner. Your goal should be a continuous “rally” between the two of you, also called “peppering.” This means you toss the ball to your partner, who passes it back to you; then you set the ball to your partner, and finally they attack the volleyball with a controlled hit right to you. You pass the ball to your partner and the sequence begins again.
Phase 4: Hitting Lines and Serving Practice
Most volleyball games or drop in sessions will begin with hitting lines, which means a setter stands in the target position on each side of the net with hitters lined up in the outside hitter position. The hitters toss the volleyball to the setter, who then sets for hitter. Teams usually stay on their side of the net but can share balls, and liberos may practice digging rather than hitting.
After about 5 minutes of hitting practice you should warm up serving for 1-2 minutes. This lets you get a feel for the gym as well as finish getting your shoulder prepared to serve the volleyball during a game.
It’s important to warm up before all types of games, even if they’re just casual. You don’t want to end up with an injury that could take you out of volleyball for weeks, so take the time to warm up correctly!
Have any favorite stretches or volleyball warm up drills? Share them in the comments!