Email response to a professional volleyball player. 6 foot 10. 40-inch vert on short approach. History of some knee problems. Only a 10-week off-season.

“Ok, you are definitely correct to not want to use plyometrics. With all the jumping you’ve done over the years plyos are not likely to do anything for you except stress your knees. Your explosiveness and coordination I’m sure are well developed, and since you’re a professional I would think your flexibility is good too. With all that in mind, and also considering your height, increasing your strength is the best thing you can do for your athleticism.

It’s tough with such a short off-season to make significant training gains. What I would suggest is a pretty tough 8 weeks of lifting that would actually fatigue you a little bit. Then stop strength training. What that does is produce an overshoot in athleticism in the months following the lifting. Then during the season reintroduce strength training when it becomes apparent that your strength is going down. Honestly with as much jumping as you do, that may not ever happen. But if it does you would use a much less stressful lifting program than what I’m advocating for the off-season. The off-season would be three days per week, probably deadlift in every workout and squatting in two of them, then some unilateral work like reverse lunges. The volume and loads during a period like this must be adjusted carefully to avoid completely breaking you down. In-season lifting would probably be as simple as one session per week with light to medium weight. Again that’s only when it becomes necessary, and you may only use it for 6-8 weeks before stopping again. That decision should be based on your performance and how you feel.

marshall-leonal-fb1

Some other comments…

Box squats are not as stressful on the knees as regular squats, so those could be useful in keeping your knees healthy. On that topic, I hope you’ve been through my jumper’s knee page.

I would recommend barbell deadlift over trap bar deadlift. Volleyball players tend to be fairly quad/knee dominant, because the sport pushes them in that direction. Working on the posterior chain to pull a quad-dominant athlete back toward being balanced is beneficial both for athleticism and for injury prevention. The more you can get power from your hips, the less you demand from your knees.

Hope that helps.”