By: Curtis Jackson
It's no secret that at Jackson Strength we train volleyball players. A lot of them.
As of this writing we have trained over 500 of them over the last 12 years.
It's also no secret that a vast majority of them are female volleyball players.
So, around this time every year we get the same phone calls, emails and texts from worried parents that feel their child "doesn't have time to work out" because the High School Girls Volleyball Season is fast approaching.
It's a valid concern for sure, but it's also equally misguided.
You see, there are these things called scholarships and every parent wants one.
Shoot, every kid wants one.
Along with injury prevention and athletic performance they are one of the main reasons families trust us with their children and their hard-earned money.
Yet, when it comes time to buckle down and persevere through the high school season, we start to see athletes falling off.
This article is about 5 years too late but in response to this, I wanted to send out a quick reminder why ALL athletes should be doing strength training and injury prevention work through their high school season and year-around.
1) You Are Doing What Others Refuse to Do
Look, girls volleyball in Southern Cali is hyper-competitive. If you have dreams of playing in the Pac-12, then start doing things that the average person won't.
The average person looks at a busy schedule and says, "I don't have time to work out". The overachiever looks at a busy schedule and says, "I can easily fit in my workouts by cutting out X, Y and Z which aren't as important."
It's a mindset shift that will make all the difference in not only achieving your dreams of D1 volleyball, but every other dream you may have in life.
This is the mindset we preach at Jackson Strength.
I can think of three girls right off the bat that absolutely refused to make time an excuse and worked out 5 times a week during their High School seasons. Including the dreaded junior year!
It's no shocker that two of them are currently at Cal and one of them is at University of Washington playing volleyball.
Numbers don't lie and there is a direct correlation between how many workouts an athlete averages per year and the quality of program they end up playing for in college.
There is also a huge correlation in lack of injuries as well. The athletes that figure out how to manage their time might get knicked up here and there but they otherwise stay very healthy.
2) Strength is Never a Weakness
Here's a scenario for you: It's late in the season, your team is fighting through the playoffs, you enter the 5th set of an absolute battle and you look across the net and see a team that is fading.
You think to yourself how much stronger you are. You think to yourself how much weaker they are. You last had a workout 3 days ago. They last had a workout 3 months ago.
At this time your confidence swells, you know you put in the work for this moment and you absolutely smash your opponent.
While this isn't an everyday situation and admittedly I have a flare for the dramatic, it still makes a valid point.
Isn't this what we train for? Isn't this where champions thrive?
No one is putting in extra work to play well in the easy matches. Anyone can do that.
Putting in the extra work is for people that want to go to the next level!
You will never look back on your career and be proud of the matches when everything was easy and you walked out of the gym in 30 minutes with a smashing under your belt.
You are going to look back on the wars and you are either going to look back on them with pride because you trained for that moment or regret because you didn't.
As a former D1 collegiate athlete and professional beach volleyball player, I can tell you that the regret is brutal and it doesn't seem to fade with time.
3) Injury Prevention
While much less glamorous than the thrill of pulling out a 5-set war, the fact remains that the athletes that stay strong and mobile, stay healthy.
It's not to be disputed.
Not only does staying consistent with your workouts keep you healthy in the short term, it helps you get a scholarship in the long-term.
Here's another scenario for you: A prominent coach from the Pac-12 is deciding between two athletes to give his last scholarship to.
Both athletes play the same position and are equal by all accounts except one glaring factor.
One athlete started lifting weights and training off the court when she was in 8th grade and outside of the occasional vacation, she has never stopped. She is strong, mobile and has never missed a game or practice in four years due to an injury.
The other athlete has done some lifting here and there and has shown some commitment to becoming more athletic. However, she has also had an ACL tear and has missed some games this year due to shoulder and low-back pain.
Which athlete do you think that scholarship is going to?
It's a no-brainer right?
Now, no strength coach can guarantee that their program can guarantee an injury free existence in the world of girls volleyball.
It's just too dynamic and competitive. Stuff happens.
However, I think I will be in the vast majority of strength and performance coaches that would concur with everything I've said here today.
Remember, as strength coaches we do what we do because we care.
I had two knee surgeries and hundreds of hours in physical therapy clinics.
Injuries ruined my love for the game of volleyball and I want to make sure that doesn't happen to any of you.
So, in conclusion I implore all of you to find a qualified strength coach that understands the demands of volleyball players and understands how to train them at different points of the year.
The key to making it all work is an experienced coach.
Once you are set up, become one of the athletes that finds ways to fit their training in versus being one of the athletes that makes excuses not to.