Train for you sport by getting stronger. A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reinforces the value of traditional strength training in order to get faster, jump higher, and be more powerful.
There are many kinds of strength—eccentric, propulsive, stabilizing, and integrated, to name a few—that will apply to sports performance. Best training results will come if you analyze the types of strength needed for your sport and develop a hypertrophy and maximal strength program that increases those measures, rather than mimicking game-specific movements during training and conditioning.
The new study tested the effect of a 6-week skill-based conditioning training program on short-sprint speed and jump height in elite male volleyball players. The participants performed three training sessions a week of skill-based conditioning that included plyometric jumping with body weight, short sprints in the gym, volleyball drills, and game simulations.
Results showed that the players increased short-sprint speed but had no changes in jumping ability, agility, or lower body muscular power. The 5-meter sprint time improved by 6 percent and the 10-meter time improved by 1 percent, both significant gains, which are likely due to the fact that volleyball players rarely do speed training whereas they already have a high level of jumping ability. They have more potential for improving speed, and other studies have shown that free sprint training can increase short-sprints in elite field-sport players.
A much better method for increasing vertical jump and spike jump is to have the players perform a cycle of heavy squat training followed by a power training cycle rather than simply doing lots of jumping and plyos. Volleyball players already perform 250 to 300 jumps during a 5-game match, with a similar volume of jumps during practice, meaning they are very skilled jumpers. They need to increase strength, be more reactive to repeatedly jump explosively, and get more efficient at decelerating loads to improve performance.
For example, lower body eccentric lifts would increase the players’ ability decelerate and accelerate continuously. Olympic lifts or squat jumps should be used to improve propulsive strength to increase jump height and power. Full-range deep squats and split squats could be used to improve integrated strength and power, and more advanced trainees may benefit from occasional partial-range training, but not at the expense of full-range of motion of exercises.
Trajkovic, N., Milanovic, Z., et al. The Effects of Six Weeks of Preseason Skill-Based Conditioning on Physical Performance in Male Volleyball Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2012. 26(6), 1475-1480.