Prepare to Play: Motivation Pt. 3 - Agility

The upcoming 2020 season will be many things - unpredictable and unprecedented are certain to be two words commonly thrown around. As we work through the pandemic caused by Covid-19, we must begin to think about helping players return to competition in a safe and healthy way. Amber Warners (Calvin) is known for her ability to recruit and motivate her athletes year after year. We asked if she would let the AVCA in on some of her secrets, and she responded by showcasing her methodology for making sure her team returns to campus at the end of each summer ready to compete at the highest level.

Part 1: Nutrition - Part 2: Planking

One of the critical components of the summer motivation program that Warners designed involves variety: the challenges encompass a wide variety of skills that will come in handy throughout the course of a volleyball season. Some are mental, some are physical, and many are both. She puts an interesting twist on things to keep it interesting: when introducing the program to her team each year, she'll name each challenge after a conference opponent to help reinforce the idea that each challenge is helping to build towards accomplishing a larger goal: winning the conference. It's an interesting idea to keep in mind when sending your team on a particularly demanding physical challenge - especially something like what we're looking at today: the Star Agility Run.

In the example above, the volleyball court dictates the dimensions of the agility challenge. Using a full half of the court, place a marker/cone in each corner and a the mid-point spot of each middle/end/sideline. There should be 8 total spots, including one in the center of that half of the court.

Use a 5-lb weight (dumbbell, sack of flour, medicine ball, etc.) and hold it out in front of you, elbows bent and arms NOT touching your body. Think of yourself as if you're in a ready-to-pass position. Shuffle as quickly as you can to each marker and back to the middle, squatting to touch the weight down at each marker. Stay low and shuffle with your foot forward.

Shuffling to each position and back as quickly as you can, you will need to complete this exercise 8 times, with each set performed in under 37 seconds, with a 37 second rest between sets. In an example of how the physical challenges can be adjusted year-to-year, the 37 second target is three seconds faster than previous seasons. Adjust as needed depending on the level of your team and the physical capabilities of the players.

Remember, you must shuffle and not run, you must stay in low passing position or you will be disqualified from the challenge.

Stay low with arms extended as if you're ready to pass the volleyball.

Training Suggestions:

Practicing without a weight can still help training and is still important to do in order to correctly perform the movements. You don’t have to have a weight every time. Practicing these movements in the sand, if possible, will build up the muscles that are needed to win this challenge. Start off by doing this 2 times per week at 3-4 rounds and work your way up to 8 rounds. Starting in July, test yourself on the whole 8 rounds once every two weeks as one of the practice sessions to see how many you can push yourself to do in under 37 seconds with 37 seconds rest.

With two physical challenges to work on, we'll tackle a mental component in the next installment. Arriving for fall practice with a clear idea of what you want your role on the team to be can help dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes for teammates to get adjusted to each other. The next challenge is designed to get players thinking about exactly what they expect from themselves and others when the real thing starts. Until then, keep working!

The AVCA is proud to partner with Hudl, Sports Imports, Mateflex, and Baden in our ongoing mission to grow and support the volleyball community.