Volleyball Fitness

volleyball spike

Volleyball is a team sport that requires great skill and can be very rewarding when played properly. Certainly considered to be both a competitive and leisurely activity, it can be played by school teams, professional athletes and families enjoying a day at the beach.

Normally, each team in an indoor volleyball match consists of six players. However, the health benefits of playing with fewer people on each team increases with the larger area for which each player is responsible; as in outdoor beach volleyball.

A workout involving volleyball is an effective way to burn calories. Approximately 20 minutes of volleyball consumes up to 126 calories. Over a twelve month period given 20 minutes of volleyball per day, that would add up to a total of 45,990 calories (or thirteen pounds of body fat) burned per year. Volleyball also develops key upper body muscles (especially the arms), improves sprint speed and agility due to the quick changes of pace and direction, and improves overall flexibility.

Volleyball places a large number of demands on the technical and physical skills of a player. During the course of play, players are required to serve, pass, set, attack, block and dig the ball. Playing volleyball requires flexibility, good balance, upper and lower body strength and speed in order to be played effectively.

The Versatility of Volleyball

Beach volleyball provides both a benefit and a hazard. Playing on loose sand can increase the effort expended to run a short distance and improve balance, but it also increases the risk of a fall. While falling on sand is certainly less painful than falling on a gymnasium floor, rocks and broken glass hidden in the sand can cause serious injury. A thorough search of the area before playing can be helpful in minimizing the risk of cuts and bruises.

As far as equipment is concerned, an individual needs only a volleyball and comfortable (but not loose) clothes, assuming the net is in place. This may simply mean a swimsuit if playing on the beach. In the gym, most players wear knee and elbow pads to reduce the risk of injury.

The rules are simple enough to grasp before the first game, making volleyball a great choice for almost anyone wanting to participate in a sport and have fun at the same time. Because of the physical benefits associated with volleyball, it is often considered a great way to stick with an exercise program while simply enjoying a day at the beach or in the front lawn.

Bad weather does not have to halt plans to play volleyball. Many individuals also play volleyball as a competitive indoor sport and consider it (rightly so) a suitable standalone exercise regime. Courts open to the public can be readily found at local gymnasiums and schools. As with other team sports, making regular appointments to play volleyball with friends and being motivated to honor them is a great step toward lifelong physical fitness.

Playing the Sport

beach volleyball

In the Olympics, two 6-player teams compete on opposite sides of a volleyball net. To score a point, a team must ground the ball (or cause it to strike the ground) on the opposing team's side of the court.

To begin a rally, the serving team starts by tossing the volleyball into the air and then striking it so that it soars over the net and into the opposing team's area of the court.

The team receiving the serve cannot allow the ball to touch the ground on their side of the net and may prevent it from doing so with up to three strikes (the ball must be struck over the net and into the opposing team's area of play within the third strike).

This manner of play continues until one of the teams allows the ball to touch the ground or breaks any of the rules set in place. The team that did not break a rule or let the ball touch their side of the court then serves the ball to the team that lost the previous rally.

Although the rules are numerous, there are a few illegal maneuvers that occur most often:

  • Missing the opponent's court with a strike or failing to send the ball over the net on the third strike.

  • Allowing the ball to stop by catching and/or throwing it.

  • The same player strikes the ball two consecutive times.

  • Striking a ball more than three times before hitting it over the net.

  • Touching the net or stepping onto the opponent's side of the volleyball court.

Volleyball Training Program

Below is a sample volleyball training program designed to enhance an individual's strength and muscular endurance. The volleyball training routine is designed to be performed for 4 to 6 consecutive weeks.

Workout Program Duration: 90-105 minutes, Rest Period Between Sets: 1-2 minutes





Typical Injuries Associated with Volleyball

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis: The muscles that control the rotation of the shoulder are called the rotator cuff muscles. The individual muscles in this system of the human body are the supraspinatus, teres minor and infraspinatus muscles. When athletes are required to hold their arms above their head for extended periods, this group of muscles can be placed under a great deal of stress. Pain that sets in suddenly could mean that a tendon is ruptured. If the onset of pain occurs over a longer period of time, the cause is often a case of inflammation rather than a rupture. Depending on the severity of the injury, ice and rest may be necessary for several days. Once the pain begins to subside, the rest period can be shortened and heat can be applied.

Patellar Tendonitis (Jumpers Knee): This injury is caused by overusing the knee area, and is signaled by pain directly beneath the knee cap. The patella ligament is the ligament that connects the tibia bone to the knee cap. When jumping repeatedly, a large amount of strain is put on this ligament and can result in a rupture. The rupture will sometimes result in degenerative tissues and inflamed muscles. Common symptoms include discomfort when pressing on the knee cap, stiff and aching knees after a competition, and discomfort when stretching the quadriceps muscles. Depending on the severity of the injury, ice and rest may be necessary for several days. Once the pain begins to subside, the rest period can be shortened and heat can be applied.

Back Injuries: Of all the common injuries experienced by volleyball players, back pain accounts for 14%. A large amount of stress is placed upon the back when bending, twisting or jumping during a match. If an individual experiences a high level of back pain, it is always recommended that the individual consider it to be severe and seek the assistance of a physical therapist, chiropractor or medical professional to ensure that the injury is not serious.

Nutrition for Volleyball

As with other sports, volleyball requires an individual to expend a large amount of energy, and hence necessitates a nutritional diet that is rich in complex carbohydrates and fluids. In order to meet the physical demands (both aerobic and anaerobic) placed on the body, individuals playing volleyball need to consume a nutritional diet that consists of 50-60% complex carbohydrates to maintain a high level of energy. Any types of foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates (whole grain bread, dairy, pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables) are essential to providing the type of complex carbohydrate calories that supply the body with sustained energy.

In addition to carbohydrates, proteins are valuable to support the regeneration of muscle tissue and strength. The total caloric intake of a well-rounded nutritional diet should consist of at least 10-20% protein. Typical types of food that contain high levels of protein include red meat, fish, chicken, turkey, fowl, eggs, dairy products and nuts. These forms of protein are able to quickly supply the body's muscle tissue with the nourishment necessary to successfully repair and strengthen after a strenuous workout.

Calories derived from healthy fats should total no more than 30% of the total caloric intake on a daily basis. Typical types of foods that contain healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) include most oily salad dressings, olive oil, fish oil and nuts.

In addition to ensuring that the appropriate complex carbohydrate calories are consumed on a daily basis, it is imperative that the type of complex carbohydrates be considered as well. The appropriate complex carbohydrates should consist of mineral-rich sources that allow the body to assimilate the nutrients at a rapid rate. By doing so, the human body will minimize the effects of the extended period of physical exertion. Simply consuming foods such as fruits, vegetables, tomato soup, potatoes, avocados and other low-sodium choices will satisfy the body's salt and potassium requirements.

Calcium can be obtained through dairy products and iron can be restored with the consumption of lean cuts of meat, beans or legumes. Finally, the volleyball player needs to ensure that they are providing their body with a sufficient level of vitamins (especially E and C) from the foods they consume. By doing so, they will assist the body in repairing muscle tissue and facilitating a total body recovery following a volleyball competition.

beach volleyball dive

No volleyball player's nutritional diet would be sufficient if the intake of fluids was not considered. During a normal volleyball match, a participant will lose at least one pound of fluid. This being said, it is imperative that fluids be consumed before, during, and after a volleyball match.

To counteract this loss in fluids, drinking water before the match (minimum of 8 ounces), during the match (minimum of 6 ounces every fifteen minutes) and after the match (minimum of 8 ounces) is imperative. Obviously, if the volleyball match is being played during hotter temperatures, the amount of fluid intake must increase to prevent dehydration.