How Volleyballers Can Survive the February Lull

Whether you are in the offseason of your high-school season or just getting going with your club team, February is notoriously known as one of the toughest months to stay motivated. Besides the freezing temps outside, most volleyballers are transitioning teams, coaches and practice schedules to accommodate the club season. So how can you make sure that your training routine doesn't slip either?  Strength coach Curtis Jackson shares his advice for surviving February:  

"At Jackson Strength, are constantly teaching our female volleyball athletes how to manage their schedules so they don't end up burnt out, over-trained and broken. The literature is pretty clear that the biggest factor in athletes getting injured is fatigue. This is especially true with ACL injuries.

Athletes come to us often and say, "I don't have to time to work-out". While it may be true that today's student-athlete is indeed very busy, there is always time. In fact, most everyone can agree that proper strength training actually helps prevent injuries. So my response would be that these athletes can't afford to not to work out.

It just has to be done the right way. At Jackson Strength our role in the life of an athlete shifts from month-to-month. Some months we are their athlete performance gym while other months we are simply their injury prevention gym. Our general rule of thumb is: The more you do out there, the less you do in here.

The key is communicating all the demands you have on your life and schedule with your strength and conditioning facility or coach.

So, let's look at February to see what changes you may need to make in your strength training regimen. 

February is still a pretty good month to work on improving athletic performance.

Typically club practices are only 2-3 times per week which gives an athlete many options as far as days to work out. However, the club season is in full swing and teams are looking at competing in tournaments about twice a month. 

Since the volume of tournaments is increasing, the volume of strength training should naturally come down. This will help prevent over-training. An overly simplistic way of looking at this would be to reduce a 75 minute workout down to 60 minutes. Another way would be to start cutting out accessory exercises. Now, every athlete is different so it's impossible to say what exercise gets cut out as one athlete's accessory exercise could be another athlete's most important injury prevention exercise.

At Jackson Strength, we make sure to keep the "nuts and bolts" or "meat and potatoes" exercises like squats, split squats, glute/hamstring variations, rotator cuff work, and anterior core work. For the most part these exercises address injury prevention to the "Big 3" for volleyball players which are knees, backs, and shoulders. They also still help with the "Big 1" for athletic performance which for every volleyball player I have ever trained is vertical jump.

What may get cut out during this time is lateral core work, rotational power and anything plyometric.

However, we may cut out even more. For example, we have one athlete right now that strictly has a program to keep a random injury called peroneal tendonitis away and that's it. 

So, to summarize: February is still a great month to keep working on athletic performance but things start to get pared down a little bit. Push yourself hard because March is around the corner and you are going to want to build up as much strength as possible before then. The season only gets more challenging from here until the end of it in July so make sure you are prepared!"

Curtis Jackson is the Founder, Head Strength Coach and Co-Owner of Jackson Strength. He is also the current fitness expert for DiG Magazine, the leading beach volleyball magazine in the country. A notable volleyball player himself at Long Beach State, Curtis also holds a degree in Kinesiology and certifications from The National Association of Sports MedicineThe Poliquin International Certification Program, USA Weightlifting, The CHEK Institute, and has completed the Elite Baseball Mentorship at Cressey Performance.