Coaching Volleyball Magazine Spring 2018 - Page 10

BUILDING BLOCKS

BUILDING BLOCKS

Why Are We Training the Athleticism Out of Volleyball ?

By Jim Miret , Front Range Volleyball
THERE IS NO DENYING that volleyball when played well is one of the most exciting spectator sports around . It ’ s thrilling to watch as players combine high levels of athleticism and skill with the execution of complex tactics in a team setting . The highest levels of volleyball require the expression of truly athletic qualities such as power , explosiveness , agility , quickness and dynamic movements .
So why are so many coaches training the athleticism out of volleyball ? I realize that this topic is taboo among many coaches and professionals in the volleyball scene , but it is important nonetheless and warrants an investigation if we truly want to continue to grow our sport and foster the expression of athleticism in our game .
Many of us learn best by doing , so before I continue I want you to try an experiment to illustrate my point . After a quick warmup , take a standing position with your toes slightly behind a sideline . Have a friend or colleague give you a ready , set … go , and from that standing position sprint about five yards . Done ? Great ! Now ask yourself these questions : What did your body do to move ? What did your feet do to move your body ?
If you weren ’ t paying attention to your body positioning or movements , try the sprint again . This time , pay particular attention to the movements your body utilizes to transition from standing upright to sprinting across the sideline .
You can also try this experiment with the athletes on your team . Line them up on a sideline and have them perform the same task , and be sure to film them .
The falsehood of the “ false or negative step ” From that standing position a few things probably happened to engage the sprint . First , your body leaned in the direction you wanted to move . Next , your hips loaded ( dropped slightly ) to help you generate power . Lastly , one of your feet stepped back to help drive you forward . Take a look at the film of your team sprinting across the sideline . It ’ s probable that most of your players performed similar movements to complete the five-yard sprint . In this instance our bodies are making adaptations to move quickly and powerfully . ( Side note : I don ’ t think our bodies always select the most mechanically efficient way to move . Just pick up a set of golf clubs for the first time and go play 18 holes with no instruction and no practice , and you will see what I mean .)
When we want to sprint forward from a standing position we usually see one foot drop in the opposite direction of the movement to help propel us forward . Many coaches call this a “ false step ” or a “ negative step ” and believe that any movement away from the direction you want to travel is wasted movement and should be avoided .
CSU VOLLEYBALL
In my experience as a coach and my many consultations with movement experts , I have learned that this “ jab ” or “ drop ” step actually puts the body in the most powerful position to move as it engages the stretchshortening cycle of our muscles , and gets our foot behind our center of gravity so we can drive in the direction we want to travel . According to Dalton Oliver , a professor of sport and exercise science at the University of Central Florida , athletes who maximize the stretch-shortening cycle of their muscles are able to generate more speed and power in their movements , and changing direction is a primary example of using the stretchshortening cycle to increase power . According to Oliver : “ If you watch a tennis player during a volley , a pitcher during a windup or an MMA fighter before he launches a powerful blow , all of them create movement in the opposite direction first to recruit more power from the SSC .” 1 This results in the expression of a more powerful and explosive movement , which we know is an important component in playing high-level volleyball .
Still unsure of the science ? Let ’ s apply these ideas directly to the sport of volleyball , using the skill of blocking as our frame of reference . Do the same five-yard sprint experiment , this time with your body parallel to the net . On the count of three , turn to your right and sprint about five yards . What did your body do that time ? I ’ ll bet if I were filming your movement I would see your hips drop , a quick drop-step and your body leaning into the movement .
It ’ s common practice around the United States for coaches to teach their blockers to take one big step when blocking to cover a lot of ground quickly . And why not – this makes sense to some degree . I want my blocker to make a blocking move to the left , so I will teach her to take a big step in the direction she wants to move . In order
8 | Spring Issue | COACHING VOLLEYBALL
BUILDING BLOCKS Why Are We Training the Athleticism Out of Volleyball? By Jim Miret, Front Range Volleyball The falsehood of the “false or negative step” From that standing position a few things probably happened to engage the sprint. First, your body leaned in the direction you 8 | Spring Issue | COACHING VOLLEYBALL wanted to move. Next, your hips loaded (dropped slightly) to help you generate power. Lastly, one of your feet stepped back to help drive you forward. Take a look at the film of your team sprinting across the side- line. It’s probable that most of your players performed similar movements to complete the five-yard sprint. In this instance our bodies are making adaptations to move quickly and powerfully. (Side note: I don’t think our bodies always select the most me- chanically efficient way to move. Just pick up a set of golf clubs for the first time and go play 18 holes with no instruction and no practice, and you will see what I mean.) THERE IS NO DENYING that volley- ball when played well is one of the most ex- citing spectator sports around. It’s thrilling to watch as players combine high levels of athleticism and skill with the execution of complex tactics in a team setting. The high- est levels of volleyball require the expression of truly athletic qualities such as power, ex- plosiveness, agility, quickness and dynamic movements. So why are so many coaches training the athleticism out of volleyball? I realize that this topic is taboo among many coaches and professionals in the volleyball scene, but it is important nonetheless and war- rants an investigation if we truly want to continue to grow our sport and foster the expression of athleticism in our game. Many of us learn best by doing, so before I continue I want you to try an experiment to illustrate my point. After a quick warm- up, take a standing position with your toes slightly behind a sideline. Have a friend or colleague give you a ready, set … go, and from that standing position sprint about five yards. Done? Great! Now ask yourself these questions: What did your body do to move? What did your feet do to move your body? If you weren’t paying attention to your body positioning or movements, try the sprint again. This time, pay particular at- tention to the movements your body uti- lizes to transition from standing upright to sprinting across the sideline. You can also try this experiment with the athletes on your team. Line them up on a sideline and have them perform the same task, and be sure to film them. When we want to sprint forward from a standing position we usually see one foot drop in the opposite direction of the move- ment to help propel us forward. Many coaches call this a “false step” or a “negative step” and believe that any movement away from the direction you want to travel is wasted movement and should be avoided. In my experience as a coach and my many consultations with movement experts, I have learned that this “jab” or “drop” step actually puts the body in the most powerful position to move as it engages the stretch- shortening cycle of our muscles, and gets our foot behind our center of gravity so we can drive in the direction we want to travel. According to Dalton Oliver, a professor of sport and exercise science at the University of Central Florida, athletes who maximize the stretch-shortening cycle of their muscles are able to generate more speed and power in their movements, and changing direction is a primary example of using the stretch- shortening cycle to increase power. According to Oliver: “If you watch a tennis player dur- ing a volley, a pitcher during a windup or an MMA fighter before he launches a pow- erful blow, all of them create movement in the opposite direction first to recruit more power from the SSC.” 1 This results in the expression of a more powerful and explosive movement, which we know is an important component in playing high-level volleyball. Still unsure of the science? Let’s apply these ideas directly to the sport of volley- ball, using the skill of blocking as our frame of reference. Do the same five-yard sprint experiment, this time with your body paral- lel to the net. On the count of three, turn to your right and sprint about five yards. What did your body do that time? I’ll bet if I were filming your movement I would see your hips drop, a quick drop-step and your body leaning into the movement. It’s common practice around the United States for coaches to teach their blockers to take one big step when blocking to cover a lot of ground quickly. And why not – this makes sense to some degree. I want my blocker to make a blocking move to the left, so I will teach her to take a big step [H\X[ۈH[[ݙK[ܙ\