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The 10 Best Stretches for Volleyball

Volleyball is a very dynamic sport that involves jumping, reaching, twisting, and diving. As a result, stretching is an important component to prevent injury and increase performance when playing volleyball. 

The key to volleyball stretches is utilizing movement patterns and muscle groups that mimic the sport being played. This will stretch the muscles to enhance the physical requirements needed (i.e. speed, agility, and strength) to play volleyball well.

Muscles Used in Volleyball

Volleyball uses the following muscles: your upper legs and hips, glutes, hamstrings, spine, and shoulders.


Muscles in your foot and lower leg (i.e. calf) help provide ground reaction force for jumping and pivoting. Muscles in your upper leg, such as your quads and hamstrings, provide force output to jump. Muscles in your hips and spine help your body rotate, flex, and extend to hit the ball. And lastly, muscles in your upper body (i.e. shoulders) generate power to exert strength and stability on the volleyball. 

Common Volleyball Injuries

The most common volleyball injuries that you’ll find on the court are:

  • Wrist sprain
  • Ankle sprain
  • Lower back strain
  • ACL tears
  • Jumper’s knee
  • Finger fractures
  • Midfoot sprain

Common volleyball injuries are often related to the ankle, knee, and shoulder, which are all key joints responsible for stabilizing major muscle groups. When you walk, you put a force on your knees 1.5x your body weight, and since volleyball requires rapid acceleration and deceleration, that puts even more force on the knees (and ankles), making you more prone to injury. 



The 10 Best Volleyball Stretches

Refer below to see our ten favorite volleyball stretches. Each of these stretches will help decrease injury risk and maximize your performance so you can stay at the top of your game. 

10. High Knee Hug

The high knee hug is an excellent stretch for the hip flexors and works well as a warm-up for volleyball or any physical activity.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start by standing tall with your arms by your sides
  2. Then, raise your right leg up so your knee is at waist height.
  3. Next, grab your right shin/knee with both hands and gently pull your leg higher, hugging it up your chest.
  4. With control, drop your right leg back down and switch sides. Repeat 10x.

9. Rotator and Shoulder Stretch

The rotator cuff is responsible for stabilizing your shoulder and assisting with the shoulder’s range of motion, and with the amount of aggressive upper body movements in volleyball, stretching your rotator cuff to promote flexibility is important.


Here are the steps:


  1. Start standing tall with arms by your side.
  2. Now, raise your arms up shoulder height, and bend your elbows so each arm is making an L shape 90 degree angle. 
  3. After that, rotate both forearms and hands down so they are now at shoulder height and the same level as your bicep/tricep.
  4. Next, rotate your forearms and hands back up to the original L shape 90 degree position, while pulling your shoulders back.
  5. This completes 1 repetition. Repeat 10x. 

8. Kneeling Hip and Quad Stretch

The hips are the foundation for all the twisting and rotating you’ll need in volleyball, so including this kneeling hip and quad stretch in your routine can be a significant addition towards injury prevention. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Start on your Yoga Strong Mat in a half kneel position, right leg up, left leg down. 
  2. When ready, start to push forward from your left hip so your right knee moves forward over your toes. 
  3. At your threshold, pull back to the starting position, and push forward again, repeating 10x each side. Make sure you keep your glute on your back leg engaged and active. 
  4. To increase the intensity of the stretch and add more quadricep mobility, take your left hand and grab your left foot while in the kneeling position.
  5. With control, pull your left foot towards your left butt to stretch the quad. 
  6. If you cannot grab your foot without losing balance, but still want to stretch your quad, use a Yoga Strong Strap

7. Sumo Squats

While the previous kneeling hip and quad stretch targets the front hip flexors, sumo squats will target the inner/outer hips. Since your pelvis is on a ring, making sure you’re stretching  all angles of your hips is vital.


Here are the steps:


  1. Start standing with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders and hips and your toes slightly turned out. 
  2. Now that you’re ready, slowly squat down while keeping your hips pushed back and your chest up. Your knees should also be pulled out, and not caved in. 
  3. Then, stand back up to return to the starting position and repeat 10x. 
  4. If you need assistance keeping your knees pulled out, use Yoga Strong Bands around your knees  to aid with the movement.

6. High Knees

Moving to more dynamic stretches to further activate the nervous system and increase range of motion, high knees expand upon the high knee hug to give your hips more active mobility.


Here are the steps:


  1. Start in a standing position, raising your right leg up to waist height. 
  2. Then, simultaneously, drop your right leg to the ground and raise your left leg up to waist height.
  3. Repeating this alternating leg movement, start to move forward at a brisk pace until fatigued.

5. Atlas Stretch

Your atlas is part of your cervical spine, which connects your skull to your spine. Since hand-eye coordination and rapid neck movements are big parts of volleyball, performing the atlas stretch is another good addition to your routine.


Here are the steps:


  1. Start sitting upright with a neutral spine.
  2. Then, moving from the front of your face, reach for the crown of your head and get a solid grip. 
  3. Using both hands, gently pull your head down until you feel a stretch in the back of your neck.
  4. Make sure your mid-back is straight and hold for 30 seconds. 

 


4. Side Shuffles

Like most sports, volleyball requires being comfortable moving in all directions -front/back, lateral, and rotation. By incorporating side shuffles, you will focus on lateral movement that helps loosen up your abductor and adductor muscles.


Here are the steps:


  1. Start standing in a light squat position, hips and knees bent. 
  2. When ready, take 3-5 shuffle steps to the right. Make sure you are maintaining the squat position.
  3. Then, take 3-5 shuffle steps back to the left, staying low the entire time.
  4. Repeat until fatigued.

3. Arm Circles

Arm circles are a great preparation for the demands that volleyball places on your shoulders. The range of motion of arm circles will help keep you healthy and functional. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Start standing with your arms by your sides.
  2. When ready, raise your arms in front of you and start to make big circles going clockwise with your arms. 
  3. With control, pretend like you’re touching every digit on the clock (12,1,2,etc.) 
  4. Repeat clockwise 5x through, then switch directions and perform the arm circles counterclockwise. 

2. Triceps Stretch

The triceps help stabilize the elbow and extend the forearms, so tricep stretches are an integral component to keeping key upper body joints healthy.

 

  1. Standing or sitting, raise your right arm vertical in the air.
  2. Then, bend your right arm at the elbow so your hand falls to the middle of your upper back.  
  3. Now, grab your right elbow with your left hand and pull down so your hand crawls further down your back.
  4. Hold for 20 seconds and switch sides.

1. High Skips

High skips are another dynamic stretch that targets the hips, but also adds a plyometric element, which adds your calf and foot into the equation.


  1. Start with a light skipping motion, pushing your left foot off the ground, while bringing your right knee into your chest.
  2. Then, switch legs by simultaneously dropping your right leg to the ground and pushing off your right foot to lift your left leg high to your chest.
  3. Repeat in a skipping motion until fatigued.