Volleyball is characterised by short and frequent explosive activities such as jumping, diving, and ball play. Considering the importance of jumping activities to the performance in volleyball, both countermovement jump (CMJ) and spike jump (SPJ) ability are considered important performance indicators and are the primary performance indicators that strength and conditioning programmes aim to enhance.
A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined changes in performance indicators relating to strength and speed-strength development over 2 years. Specific resistance training protocols weren’t recorded, however typical training schedules during training and international competitive periods were presented as athletes transitioned from U21 to senior international level. Typical training schedules consisted of 2-3 strength & power sessions per week during training and competitive periods. 1RM Clean, 3RM Squat, CMJ, depth jump (DJ), SPJ with approach, jump squat at bodyweight and plus 50% bodyweight, and anthropometric tests were conducted as performance variables.
Results showed that 1RM Clean increased by 15% and 3RM Squat by 29% over the 2-year period. There was a reduction in skinfold summation combined with large increases in lean mass ratio. Jump height for the CMJ, DJ, and SPJ increased significantly by 6-9 cm over the 2-year period. Bodyweight and 50% bodyweight jump squat performance increased significantly for measured parameters such as peak power, relative peak power, force, and jump height (8%).
The results of the study provide strength and conditioning coaches a rationale to prioritise increasing fat free mass, increasing stretch-load tolerance through depth jumping, and increasing strength and loaded speed-strength performance.
In a sport where relative power is of primary importance, training should be aimed at increasing strength and speed-strength, while maintaining very low fat mass. Low fat mass is not only important for jump and relative power, but also to reduce stress placed on the musculoskeletal system in the jump-landing. Fat mass places extra stress on the body when landing from a height, because the extra mass increases the kinetic stress upon landing and cannot contribute to absorption or deceleration in the landing activity.
Considerable improvements in the athletes support the justification of the CMJ and SPJ as key performance indicators for elite volleyball. Strength and conditioning coaches should focus on improving stretch load tolerance in DJ, showing a strong relationship between developing DJ ability and improving both CMJ and SPJ. Its is also important for athletes to apply force quickly and generate high power outputs, likely best developed through Olympic style lifting and jump squat methods.
Sheppard, J., et al. Changes in Strength and Power Qualities over Two Years in Volleyball Players Transitioning from Junior to Senior National Team. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(1): 152-157, 2012.