Lifting for Volleyball & Soccer

The following post is written by Nick Cipkus.  Nick works as the Social Media and Marketing Representative for Liberty Performance Training.  Please take a moment to visit his website at for insights on small business and sports performance! 

When someone hears the phrase, “strength and conditioning,” they usually think of football. Sports such as soccer and volleyball don’t receive as much attention about their training. Any athlete playing a sport will benefit from a comprehensive strength training regimen.

I am really excited about this weeks guest since he brings a fresh new perspective. Keith is a PHD candidate at South Carolina.  Keith will be working with the men’s soccer and volleyball team in the fall. Beach volleyball and spring football will be on the list of teams Keith works with in the spring.

If you have ever watched youth or high school volleyball, you are almost guaranteed to see athletes wearing ankle braces.  Should they be wearing these? Keith and I discuss ankle training, while providing solutions and recommendations.

Some soccer players don’t feel they need to lift weights.  Are they right? Should they be in the weight room? We get Keith’s perspective on strength training and frequency for soccer players.

We all know the core is where all movement begins.  Keith provides his “top 4,” exercises to build a strong core.

Liberty Performance Training: Volleyball is notorious for ankle injuries.  What are 3 pre-hab/activation exercises someone can perform to prevent ankle issues? 

Keith Scruggs: Anytime an injury is present we must evaluate the system above and below to understand the potential cause.  Rather than focusing solely on the ankle I have my athletes shift their focus towards the feet, achilles, and tibialis (anterior and posterior).  Tennis balls and/or golf balls to the feet for soft tissue work, RFE stretch to attack the anterior tibialis, and body-tempering (Donnie Thompson plug) to the achilles and posterior tibialis.  Again, this all assuming that the athlete has specific work capacity / tensile strength to absorb force acting upon (and within) the body, can stabilize those forces, and exert necessary force for the task(s).  That comes from sound training and motor control of trunk / limbs.  

Liberty Performance Training: Should High School and Youth Soccer Athlete lift weights? If so, how often?

Keith Scruggs:  First we must answer the question: “WHAT IS RESISTANCE TRAINING?”  | If you have a holistic viewpoint of this question then the answer is “YES!”.  For many youth athletes, “resistance” is simply their body (trunk and limbs) and we MUST allow them to refine their motor skills through a broad spectrum of movements outside of their primary “Sport Specific” (I hate that term btw) motor patterns they are exposed to most often.  If a youth / high school athlete can’t do bodyweight walking lunges (forward, backwards, lateral, at a faster tempo, etc) due to lack of core and limb control they are going to be more susceptible to an injury.  And that, my friends, is “resistance training” for that individual.  To ensure you don’t put the cart before the horse follow this simple approach to progressions (will be published in NSCA Coach in 2018):

I – V – C – R Approach to Progressions (will use the walking lunge as example)…

I = Intensity = Can they do the walking lunge at a faster rate / tempo? If not…do not progress! (shows they can absorb -> stabilize -> exert necessary force for the task)

V = Volume = Can they do the walking lunge longer or for more times than before? If not… do not progress!  If yes… now can they do it with greater volume AND intensity?  If yes… then proceed. (Shows they have developed a work capacity for the task)

C = Complexity = Can they do the walking lunge with greater variability than before (i.e. backwards, lateral, w/ a twist, in sand, etc)?  If not… do not progress.  If yes… now can they do it with greater volume? If not… do not progress and maybe regress for a bit.  If yes… now can they do it with greater volume AND intensity? (Shows they can handle perturbations to the system and now have developed better control of their trunk and limbs … aka a more stable system)
R = Resistance = DO NOT PUT THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE…. progress into resistance and work backwards through this approach.To answer how often — MOTION IS LOTION… apply daily for best results!
Liberty Performance Training: What are your 4 favorite exercises to build a strong core?

Keith Scruggs: Lunge, Jump/Hop, Squat, and Bend … to me the “core” is from above the knees to the shoulders and “strong” is a relative term.  Strength to me is (again) the ability to absorb forces acting upon and within the body, the ability to stabilize those forces (AND FAST/EFFICIENTLY), and exert necessary force(s) to complete the task(s) at hand.  Nerdy and indirect answer…but it’s the truth! 

Keith has provided some great information and resources for strength coaches and athletes.  I hope you’re able to apply his recommendations to athletes you train.  As always, we are extremely thankful for Keith’s time and willingness to answer a few of our questions to provide insight into sport performance training.