Play Volleyball Smart
Use your size to your advantage and play smarter volleyball

To play volleyball at a high level, height is not a deciding factor in and of itself. There are many advantages to being a shorter player. 

Shorter players have many advantages over taller players

Shorter players tend to have faster reaction times, greater ability to accelerate body movements, stronger muscles in proportion to body weight, and a greater ability to rotate the body faster. 

Shorter players are also less likely to break bones in falling. 

As a consequence of these physical attributes, shorter athletes tend to excel as gymnasts, divers, skiers, martial artists, rock climbers, figure skaters, rodeo riders, soccer players and long distance runners. 

Within their weight classes shorter athletes are excellent wrestlers, boxers, and weight lifters. 

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Tips for excelling as a shorter volleyball player

Follow these tips and use your size to your advantage. 

Better ball control 
Generally, taller players have an easier time attacking and blocking, but ball control skills usually don't come as easy. The best volleyball players usually possess many different skills. Being tall and athletic are great physical qualities that help you play volleyball easier, but ball control, playing great defense, and excellent passing skills are HUGE for success of any team. 

"It is not how tall you are, it is how GOOD you are." - Marv Dunphy, 1988 Olympic Gold Medal coach 

Someone who has a physical disadvantage in one aspect of the sport may be able to excel in another aspect. 

Especially in doubles, you can't get away with just being tall and athletic. 

The sport of beach volleyball doubles is a game where all players are forced to use multiple skills. For example, if your partner passes the ball, you must use your setting skills. How well you set can dictate the success of your team. 

You also need to have good passing skills. If you can't pass very well, a smart opponent will likely serve the ball to you repeatedly, forcing you to pass.  

Speed is something that a smaller player can bring to help offset any disadvantage there might be at being a shorter athlete. 

Taller athletes with longer limbs, can't generate the same degree of force to get moving like a shorter player can. 

Usain Bolt is considered to be a very "tall" athlete in his sport

Bolt’s weakness is in the start of the race; he said that he and his coach were always working on it. He doesn't have the short, muscular legs that allow runners to burst out of the starting blocks and accelerate quickly, but he has an advantage later in the race because his longer legs let him create velocity for a longer period during each stride.

If you can overcome your slow start, it is better to be tall.

The way his leg muscle inserts into the bone may give Bolt a longer lever arm, and that could give him unexpected explosive strength.

What’s the solution for those at a mechanical or "body type" disadvantage? Hypertrophy development, the result of strength training, raises the muscle’s potential for force production. 

Holm is a shorter athlete that excels in a sport dominated by taller athletes

Stefan Holm, a high jumper from Sweden, is just 5 feet, 11 inches tall, “a dwarf” in a sport in which the average height is 6 feet, 4 inches.

Holm's smaller size allows him to run faster in his approach to the bar.

And he is able to clear it, by arching his body so he bends over the bar more than his taller competitors.

Train harder than taller players 
You can always out train your competition. Many taller volleyball players aren't taught the importance of improving speed, power, and athletic ability. As a result, taller players usually don't think speed and power training is that important. 

Also, if you're really tall for your age, you likely don't have a coach pushing you hard to increase your vertical jump height or court quickness. You've got the height, so the thinking is that increasing your vertical isn't going to help that much. So the focus of your training is more on learning and perfecting playing skills rather than improving your strength, power, and vertical jump. 

If you're shorter, it can be easier to weightlifting techniques 
Different lifts are better for different body types. On average, shorter people have better leverage than taller people. As height increases, leverage decreases and ROM increases, producing a disadvantage. The main disadvantage long limbed athletes have is the weight they are using has to travel a farther distance. This may hinder building strength contributing to lack of muscle mass. 

Mechanically speaking, we are not all created equal. Skilled weightlifters possess a high body mass to height ratio compared with other athletic groups. If a tall athlete and a short athlete both have the exact same muscle mass and volume, the shorter athlete will have the greatest muscle cross section and will therefore be able to generate greater muscular force. 

Not all weight lifting techniques are safe for all athletes. For example, shorter athletes tend to have better natural mechanics for squatting. Taller athletes tend to need more guidance when lifting weights and can often get frustrated weight training because they aren't able to lift as much weight. 

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