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Volleyball Training Journal issue 042
January 20, 2011





Improve performance and prevent injuries by strengthening the diaphragm and other key muscles of the inner core.

If I told you to get your stomach tight, chances are you would hold your breath as if preparing to be punched in the stomach. Or you would get in an abdominal crunch position which is poor posture and puts needless stress on your back.

Instead, I want you to think of maintaining perfect posture. Your abs are drawn in, and you’re still able to breathe.

All movements start with the muscles of the inner core. One of the most important core muscles to train is the transversus abdominis (TVA). The TVA originates at the spine and wraps around and attaches to the ribs, abs, and pelvis. Think of the TVA muscle as nature’s weight belt.

The TVA is important because it’s used in drawing the stomach in towards the spine and up towards the ribs. It’s essentially like tightening a belt to ensure the protection of the pelvis and lower back. This muscle is key in stabilizing the pelvis and supporting the torso.

Whenever movement begins, the TVA should be the first muscle that fires.

For most people, the ability to activate the TVA is lost due to injuries or sedentary lifestyles.

Once we re-learn how to reactivate the TVA, we’re able to stabilize the pelvis so that the leg and torso muscles can turn to it for support.

Not only does strengthening the TVA help prevent back injuries, but also the body will be able to transfer force efficiently through the back and joints.

Follow the link for more on improving at volleyball by strengthening key muscles of the inner core.



1. Not swinging arms when passing. Often kids develop the bad habit of swinging the arms before they've had a chance to be taught the right way to pass. It usually starts when first bumping the ball around in the backyard or gym class. Swinging arms is a tough habit to break, so develop good passing skills early.

2. Elbow to wrist. When first learning to spike a volleyball, the first thing to teach is “elbow to wrist”. Think of reaching high and hammering a nail (not much movement shoulder to elbow, most movement is elbow to wrist). Spikers that are good at elbow to wrist are the ones that are good at spiking overpasses straight down.

3. Approaching right-left. I can usually tell when a player used to be a goofy-footer. Even though their steps are in the right order, they still look pretty "goofy". They just aren’t the same as they would have been if they had just started out with proper footwork. A friend of mine said if he has a player come in under 12 years old and approach left-right, it might be easier to just make them left-handed rather than try to fix the steps. Either way, you'll save a lot of time if you get those steps right early.

4. Hitting topspin. In my opinion, if you don’t create spin when you spike, then you don’t have good ball control spiking. If the ball doesn't spin, then the contact isn't that good. The best spikers create really good topspin that keeps the ball from sailing out of bounds. In beach volleyball, it's all about spin. What's important is becoming aware of what it feels like to hit with spin.

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