Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

The Importance of Functional Strength

Volleyball players at all levels understand the importance of practice and strength training. However, in our fast-paced lives, many players, both young and old, fall short when it comes to volleyball-specific exercises that improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. One crucial aspect that is often overlooked is functional strength.

Functional strength refers to the ability to hold a low body position, which is vital in volleyball for actions like digging, passing, and jumping. It allows players to cover the court more efficiently and perform key skills, such as retrieving a ball rebounding off the net.

To address this issue, I spoke with Jill Wosmek, a certified athletic trainer for the U.S. Women’s National Team. She recommended five simple exercises that volleyball athletes can incorporate into their training routines:

  1. Body-weight squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then, jump and repeat for 10-12 reps for three sets.

  2. Side lunges: Step sideways, so one leg ends up bent at about a 90-degree angle while the opposite leg remains straight. Return to the starting position and repeat for 10-12 reps on each side for two or three sets. To make it volleyball-specific, hold a passing platform with your arms while performing lunges.

  3. Forward lunges: Step forward with one leg until the thigh is parallel to the ground, then push off and return to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat for 8-10 reps for two or three sets. You can also hold a passing platform in front of you while doing the lunges.

  4. Pushups: Start with regular pushups or modify them by having your knees on the ground. If you find pushups challenging, you can push off a wall while standing with your feet about two feet away. Gradually increase the difficulty as you get stronger.

  5. Planks: Start in a pushup position but rest on your elbows and forearms, with your elbows under your shoulders. Hold this position for one minute and aim for two minutes as you progress. For an added challenge, transition into a lateral plank by rotating your body.

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Allocate a few minutes two or three times a week to incorporate these exercises into your routine. Even if you’re busy, you can multitask by performing lunges and squats while holding a textbook. Remember, these exercises are beneficial for recreational players as well. Playing volleyball regularly helps you stay in shape, reducing the time spent in the gym. Plus, it’s more enjoyable!

So, whether you’re a serious athlete or a recreational player, make functional strength a priority. By focusing on exercises that specifically target volleyball movements, you’ll become a better player while improving your overall fitness. It’s a winning combination!


Q: How often should I do these exercises?
A: It is recommended to incorporate these exercises into your routine two or three times a week for optimal results.

Q: Do I need any equipment for these exercises?
A: No, these exercises can be performed without any weights or equipment. However, if you want to challenge yourself further, you can add dumbbells to some of the exercises.

Q: How long should I hold the plank position?
A: Start by holding the plank position for one minute and gradually increase the duration to two minutes as you build strength.


In volleyball, functional strength is crucial for optimal performance and injury prevention. By incorporating exercises like body-weight squats, side lunges, forward lunges, pushups, and planks into your training routine, you can improve your ability to hold a low body position, which is essential for various volleyball skills. Whether you’re a serious player or enjoy the game recreationally, these exercises will help you become a better player while staying in shape. So, carve out a few minutes a few times a week and focus on functional strength to enhance your game. For more tips and volleyball resources, visit

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