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Pre Season Training Programs Designing a Volleyball Preseason Training Program

Volleyball preseason training can start any time of year, depending on where you are in the world. In the past, it was thought preseason training should include large amounts of long distance running. Recently however, elite clubs have found it's more beneficial to concentrate on aerobic and anaerobic cardiovascular interval training to build cardiovascular fitness, while focusing on volleyball-specific cardio requirements such as repeat effort running to improve lactate systems. More about this later.

Skill drills should be dispersed amongst the cardio activity drills. There will generally also be a focus on creating a strong core and strengthening injury-prone areas for players with a history of specific types of injuries.

Your volleyball preseason program should include - at minimum - some basic fitness testing, ball work, repeat effort running, core strengthening, and adequate recovery.

Fitness Testing

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Fitness testing helps coaches determine the amount of additional work individual players must do to bring them to the desired level of fitness to run out a full game of volleyball. At elite level (Olympics), fitness testing would include a mid-distance time trial (3km), weight lifting tests, skin fold tests, beep tests and personal diaries.

At amateur level, skinfold and beep tests are simple ways to determine body fat percentage and cardio fitness. The timing should be:

  • Just prior to a seasonal break.
  • When pre-season commences.

Designing an volleyball Preseason Training Program

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Main group Sessions

Should always include the items in bold, plus 1 or 2 non-bold items below. Alternate ball work with body work to practice skills at varying levels of fatigue. Make sure to vary the content of sessions to keep them interesting.

  • Warm Up
  • Shuttle runs
  • Boxing circuits
  • Squats and lunges
  • Ball work
  • Repeat effort running
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Core strengthening
  • Warm-down and recovery

Away-from-group Sessions

For individuals or small groups

  • Warm Up
  • Weights
  • Repeat effort running
  • Core Training

Repeat Effort Running

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The pattern of high intensity sprinting, slowing to a jog, returning to a sprint, and so on. The sprinting period should be varied to simulate the length of sustained effort required by a player.

The body has three main energy systems - an aerobic system, an anaerobic system and a lactate system.

  • The anaerobic system : Lasts around 5-10 seconds before depleting but produces the most power
  • The lactate system: Lasts around 50-90 seconds but produces less power than the anaerobic system.
  • The aerobic system: Last over a prolonged period of time, producing the least power.

Repeat effort running enacts the "lactate" energy system, reproducing the kind of effort required during a game.

Repeat effort running drills

Footwork Warm Up

Place 5 balls along the attack line, spaced apart evenly. Players start in the corner of Zone 5 on the baseline.
Players run along the line of Zone 5 until they reach the attack line.
They then, facing the net, run in and out of the balls.
Once they complete the slalom, players run around the back court along the baseline and repeat the sequence again.

cone cross

5 cones required. Set up in a 3x3 metre square, with one cone left in the centre. A coach is on the side with a whistle.
The player starts on the middle cone, waiting for the coach to blow the whistle. The player then runs to cone (A) first, then back to the centre, always facing the net.
Once back to the middle cone, the player runs to cone (B), then back to the centre. Then onto cone (C), back to the centre.
Then finally onto cone (D). Then back to the centre cone.

Shuttle sliding

All players start on the baseline (A), run to (B) then return to (A).
Players then run from (A), run under the net and touch the attack line (C).
All players run back to (A), touch the service line, turn around and run back to (C) but slide under the net and touch the line.
Players then continue and touch the baseline on that side of the court (D).
Then all players turn, run and slide under the net, touch line (B) before returning to (A).
Rest, then go again.

Fun lactate system drills

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Cone fLIP

This drill requires flat (non-pointy) cones. Two teams start on opposite sides of either a full court with no net, or half a court. Larger distance for harder workload. Distribute approximately 1 cone for every player inside the square, 50% of the cones upright and 50% upside down. On start, teams enter the playing arena. The red team must turn the upside-down cones upright, and can shephard players from the opposite team from turning over upright cones. Opposite for the other team who turns cones upside-down. After 90 seconds stop, count the cones positions to declare a winner.
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Peg Grab

This drills requires 3 or 4 pegs per player. Distribute these to players who get a teammate to peg them onto their back near their shoulders. Players start by positioning themself somewhere inside a 30x30m square. On start, players must try to steal pegs from other players, whilst avoiding their pegs being stolen. If a player steals a peg, they peg it to the front of their top. These pegs cannot be taken by others. The exercise ends when all pegs have been taken from all players backs. Once a player has all pegs stolen, they must leave the playing arena. The player/s who've stolen the most pegs win.

Ball Work

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Sharpen skills as much as possible during the preseason by doing short, sharp drills. Players should touch the as much as possible during the preseason to minimize skills errors in game one.

Don't be afraid to use some competitive drills in the preseason. There is no point easing players into the season, they need to be hard at the ball as soon as the season commences.

Below are the pick of drills for pre-season training on the VolleyballCoach.tv website.

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  • Boxing Circuits, Squats, Lunges and Burpees, Leg Exercises

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