Saturday, 20 Jul 2024

Injury Prevention Through Reading

Volleyball is an exciting and dynamic sport that combines both random and patterned movements. It requires players to react instinctively to the ball’s trajectory while also executing consistent and repetitive skills. However, the emphasis on strength training alone may not be sufficient in preventing injuries caused by poor positioning during patterned movements.

In this article, we explore the often-overlooked aspect of judgment skills in volleyball, specifically the ability to anticipate, read, and react to the flow of the game. By developing these skills, players can not only enhance their performance but also reduce the risk of injuries.

The Importance of Anticipation and Reaction Skills

While technique and physical conditioning play a vital role in volleyball, coaches should not overlook the importance of teaching players how to anticipate the ball’s movement. Many athletes struggle to get to the ball because they lack the ability to predict its trajectory accurately. This deficiency affects every aspect of the game.

In the fast-paced nature of volleyball, players have limited time to react to the ball’s movement. Lack of proper anticipation can lead to injury. It is crucial to guide young athletes in developing good judgment skills to ensure their safety on the court. By training them to understand and adjust to misjudgments, coaches can help prevent potential problems and reduce the risk of injuries.

Teaching Proper Technique: The Spike

When teaching the spike, coaches traditionally focus on executing the skill near the net. However, a more effective approach is to start with three-meter line attacks, allowing for greater judgment and error margin. This technique encourages hitters to develop better anticipation and technique while maintaining a safe distance from the net. As the players progress, the coach can gradually move the sets closer to the net, enhancing timing and coordination.

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It is essential to address technical errors early on, such as hitting the ball with a bent elbow and a lower extension. Coaches should encourage players to reach for the ball with full extension, ensuring proper form and minimizing the risk of injuries.

How Injuries Occur: Understanding Judgment and Positioning

In spiking, poor judgment often leads to under-running the ball. Unlike other sports, volleyball spikes occur when players are unsupported in the air, adding an extra layer of difficulty. Under-running the ball forces the player to lean back, putting excessive stress on the lower back and potentially causing injury over time.

Additionally, incorrect positioning during hitting can result in knee injuries. For example, when the ball drifts past the hitter’s shoulder to their left side, they may attempt to hit it by landing on one leg over their left knee. This imbalanced position puts significant strain on the knee joint, increasing the likelihood of injury.

Developing Proper Technique and Awareness

To address these issues, coaches can use video analysis to help players understand their positioning during spiking. By reviewing the footage, athletes can visually assess their technique and identify areas for improvement. Reinforcing proper positioning through exaggerated movements and drills can also enhance kinesthetic awareness and help players recognize the right spot to jump.

In game situations, the ability to read the ball, move towards it, and judge its trajectory is crucial for making accurate decisions. Players often face the dilemma of choosing between proper technique or reaching out to hit the ball despite being off-balance. Coaches should emphasize the importance of good judgment and technique, guiding players to make the best possible play in challenging situations.

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Preventing Injuries through Balanced Training

Teaching non-dominant hand skills can contribute to a more balanced and less injury-prone volleyball player. Incorporating non-dominant hand play into warm-up routines helps players develop better balance and stability. It allows them to make safe plays and avoid unnecessary strain on the knee and back when they find themselves out of position.

Flexibility training should focus on the muscles rather than the joints to ensure stability and joint integrity. Exercises that stretch the muscles of the thigh, such as toe-curling rather than foot-flared stretches, promote proper form and minimize the risk of joint instability.

Maximizing Development through Small-Sided Play

Playing small-sided games, such as 1v1, 2v2, or 1v2, can significantly enhance judgment and reading skills in realistic game scenarios. These games provide players with more opportunities to move, react, and read the ball, leading to improved performance and decision-making on the court. Coaches can also introduce variations, such as quick push-ups or 360-degree turns between sets, to add randomness and challenge players’ judgment skills.

By utilizing small-sided play and maximizing training time on the net, coaches can further develop players’ reading and hitting skills. Incorporating coed games or playing against more skilled opponents can also create an overload effect, pushing players to adapt and improve their performance.


Q: How can reading skills prevent injuries in volleyball?
A: Developing reading skills, including anticipation and reaction, helps players position themselves correctly to avoid injury-causing movements and reduce the risk of accidents on the court.

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Q: Why is teaching non-dominant hand skills important?
A: Practicing non-dominant hand skills can create a more balanced and versatile player, capable of making safe plays even when out of position. It enhances overall stability and reduces the strain on specific body parts.

Q: How can small-sided play enhance players’ judgment skills?
A: Small-sided games create realistic game scenarios, forcing players to read and react quickly to the ball’s movement. It improves decision-making, performance, and overall understanding of the game.


Injury prevention in volleyball requires a holistic approach that goes beyond technique and physical conditioning. By emphasizing the development of anticipation, reading, and reaction skills, coaches can help players enhance their performance while reducing the risk of injuries caused by poor positioning and judgment.

Teaching proper technique, promoting balanced training, and incorporating small-sided play are essential elements in building skilled and injury-resistant volleyball players. By focusing on these aspects, athletes can enjoy the game to its fullest potential while staying safe on the court.

Remember, injury prevention involves continuous learning and improvement. Coaches and players should stay informed, practice proper judgment, and prioritize safety in every aspect of the game.

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