Basic Volleyball Exercises
Core Strength and Power

When selecting basic volleyball exercises for core training, it's important to understand the various types of resistance training exercises.

When discussing core training, it may be easiest to group resistance training into 3 categories….

  1. Mult-joint exercises (squat, deadlift, push up)
  2. Single joint exercises (ab curl up, back extension)
  3. Core Stabilization exercises (lying hip extension, plank)

Multi-joint exercises Multi-joint exercises recruit large muscle groups and involve using two or more primary joints. Multi-joint exercises are the most important of the basic volleyball exercises.

Multi-joint exercises such as back squats and deadlifts take a great deal of core strength to perform correctly. Without adequate core strength, you may be risking injury.

Front Squats for Volleyball

Front Squat

Single joint exercises Single joint exercises are performed using 1 primary joint. They are also referred to as assistance exercises because they are smaller muscles that assist the larger muscle actions. Assistance exercises help you get better at performing multi-joint exercises and are less important.

Core stabilization exercises The many small muscles that are attached to your lower back, abdominals, hips, pelvis, ribs, and shoulder blades are the keys to all athletic movements. These muscles act to stabilize the body and should be trained in many of your volleyball exercises. Not only are these core stabilizer muscles important for improved sports performance, but they also improve your body's resistance to injury.

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Strength Training for Core Power

Basic Volleyball Exercises for Core Stability

Developing core stability should be the focus of your training because stability is the main function of your core. Basic volleyball exercises should involve training for stability around the shoulders, hips, and trunk.

Lying Hip Extension (Glute Bridge)

Training the glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors with hip extension is often neglected from volleyball training. Hip extension is an important movement in sports and should be included in volleyball exercises.

  • Purpose:
    To activate and strengthen the glutes and muscles of your lower back.
  • Starting Position:
    Lie on the ground face up. Place your feet flat on the ground. Pull your shoulder blades back and down. Brace your core and fire (contract) your glutes.
  • Action:
    Raise your hips and flex your knees so that only your feet, head, shoulders, and arms are touching the floor. Your body should be in a straight line from knees to shoulders.
  • Coaching cues:
    To help activate your glutes, you can lift your toes up off the ground and press down through your heels.

    This will also prevent you from using your quadriceps. You can hold the position for a designated time or perform repetitions.


Basic volleyball exercises that include planks are good for training stability at the area of hips, shoulders, and stomach.

  • Purpose:
    To strengthen shoulder, core, and hip stability.
  • Starting Position:
    Lie facedown on the ground. Place your elbows under your shoulders and bend them to 90 degrees.
  • Action:
    Raise your body up by putting your bodyweight on your elbows and toes. Your body should be hovering above the ground. Contract the muscles of your core and keep your back straight and hips up making a straight line from ankles to head. 
  • Coaching cues:
    Beginners can start by holding the position for 10 to 20 seconds. Breathe normally while holding the position as you brace your core.

In this video, this is an advanced progression. This is called the "plank with one leg raise".

Side Plank

Side planks are great for developing hip, shoulder, and stomach stability along with the abdominal muscles on the side of your waist.

  • Purpose:
    To strengthen shoulder, core, and hip stability emphasizing the bottom side glutes and obliques.
  • Starting Position:
    Lie on the floor on your side with your elbow under your shoulder.
  • Action:
    Push up off the ground with your elbow, raising your hips, creating a straight line from your ankle to your shoulder.
  • Coaching cues:
    Be sure to push your hips up and keep your toes up. Only your forearm and the side edge of your foot should be in contact with the ground. Beginners can start by holding the position for 10 to 20 seconds.

Mountain Climbers

This exercise trains core stabilization while the legs are moving. Basic volleyball exercises that enforce core stabilization while the body's limbs are moving are almost always the most functional because this is how movement occurs in sports and real life.

  • Purpose:
    To train the hip flexors along with core stabilization.
  • Starting Position:
    Get to the top of push up position.
  • Action:
    While bracing your core, pick one foot up and bring the knee to your chest. Bring the foot back to start position and repeat the movement with the other leg.
  • Coaching cues:
    Keep your core braced and don't let your hips come down throughout the movement. Practice the exercise slowly to learn proper technique.

Assistance Basic Volleyball Exercises for Core Strength

Ab Curl Up

Abdominal strengthening exercises such crunches and ab curls are great exercises for strengthening the abs. However, some athletes make the mistake of doing too much ab work and not enough core stabilization. Too much ab work can lead to many problems such as shortened ab muscles (which effects posture) and injury of the lower back (especially if performed excessively with poor technique). Have your basic volleyball exercises consist mainly of core stabilization to avoid these potential problems.

  • Purpose:
    Strengthen the abdominals.
  • Starting Position:
    Grab a wooden dowel (stick) or band. Lie face up on the ground. Bend your knees and place your feet up in the air so that your thighs are perpendicular to the ground. Bring your knees and legs together. Grip the stick with both hands about shoulder width apart. Straighten your arms out in front of you so the stick is above your knees or shins. Start with the back of your head touching the ground.
  • Action:
    Move your chin to your chest. Use your abs to lift your shoulders up off the ground and then flex your hips until the stick touches your feet. Come back to the start position and repeat.
  • Coaching cues:
    Your knees and legs should stay together throughout the movement. Use the stick for keeping a consistent distance for each repetition.

Physioball Reverse Hyper

Performing reverse hypers on a physioball has the added benefit of stretching the glutes and lower back before activating those muscles.

  • Purpose:
    To strengthen your lower back and glutes.
  • Starting Position:
    Lie facedown on the ball with your hips resting over the top of the ball. Put your hands and feet on the ground with your toes pointed toward your shins.
  • Action:
    While keeping your upper body still, lift your legs up until they are straight and in line with your body. Return to the start position and repeat.
  • Coaching cues:
    Use your glutes to raise your legs up while bracing your core.

Reverse Ab Curl

Lower abdominal exercise.

  • Purpose:
    To strengthen the lower abdominals.
  • Starting Position:
    Lie face up on the ground. Bend your knees and place your feet up in the air so that your thighs are perpendicular to the ground. Bring your knees and legs together. Place your hands behind your head.
  • Action:
    Slowly bring your knees to your chest, bringing your hips up off the ground and then slowly lower them back down.
  • Coaching cues:
    You should be slowly rolling up into a ball, keeping your legs held together. Your hands and head should stay resting on the ground. The movement should be done slow and controlled. Don't perform the movement using momentum. You can use a medicine ball to make the exercise easier. Place the ball on the ground near the top of your head and hold it with your hands during the exercise.

See My Favorite Medicine Ball

Side lying adduction and abduction

The exercise is for activating your abductor and adductor muscles. The abductors are the muscles on the outside part of your leg. The adductors are the muscles on the inside part of your leg.

  • Purpose:
    To activate and stabilize the muscles around your hips.
  • Starting Position:
    Lie on your side resting your head on your arm. Straighten your legs with your top leg slightly behind your hips.
  • Action:
    Lift your top leg up. This is abduction. Now place the top foot on the ground in front of the other knee. Lift the bottom leg up. This is adduction. Finish the repetitions and then switch sides.
  • Coaching cues:
    Brace your core throughout the movement. You can hold each position for a designated time or perform repetitions.

It may be worth repeating that multi-joint exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and power exercises are extremely dependent upon core strength. Not having sufficient inner core strength can lead to poor technique and possible injury when performing such exercises.

With that being said, once sufficient core strength has been developed, these types of multi-joint exercises are great for enhancing core strength and power.

Mult-joint exercises are the most important of your basic volleyball exercises and should take precedence over exercises that train smaller muscle groups when deciding on what to include in your weight training.

Basic Volleyball Exercises Related Pages

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