And when it's time to use it, and it's smaller than everybody else's on the beach, it is most definitely a cause for embarrassment. In fact, it can be such a source of anxiety that it creates a psychological complex, inhibiting potential for future performance.
Your vertical is small, and ignoring that fact won't make the problem go away.
Your lack of ability to get it up and out of the sand may come down to one of, or a combination of the following 3 reasons:
Lack of power
Mechanical sequencing issues
Power Outage While a greater strength-base offers potential for increased power output, you don't need to be able to deadlift a car to have a 40 inch leap; strength does not directly equate to power. My definition of strength and power (which is admittedly controversial) are as follows: strength is your ability to move objects around your body, and often includes added resistance incumbencies; power is that rate at which you can move your body through space, and the force per interval that your muscles generate. Rather than focusing on how much weight you can move through a power exercise, focus on the speed and efficiency with which you can move the weight. The greatest determinant of power output is muscle-contraction speed, and you would be wise to dedicate half of your power-based workouts to improving your rate of contraction.
Here are 2 exercises to include in your workout program that contribute to an accelerated muscle contraction rate and will almost certainly contribute to more speed in the sand and a higher vertical leap:
1. Knee Jump to Tuck Jumps
2. Resistance Band Hip Flexor & Shoulder Drivers
*You should never perform power exercises to fatigue if you are trying to build power. Once your rate of contraction slows, you are effectively de-training yourself!
Jellyfish Joints You have carefully periodized your workout routine over the year, tapering down from 15 reps, to 6, building from endurance to strength, and you have now started you power phase...but you aren't jumping any higher...what gives? The problem may be that you neglected to strengthen the muscles that are in charge of joint stability. Your vertical is a product of a transfer of kinetic energy, from your feet through your neck, and is a direct measurement of the downward force you apply to the ground. Accepting the laws of physics, the ground exerts the force back on to your body, which propels you off the ground. Before this force can reach its maximum effect, it must pass through your ankle joints, knee joints, hip joints, and spinal column. Any force that is displaced laterally (anything that is not vertically linear) is wasted potential. In beach volleyball, the sand already creates instability, the last thing you need is to contribute to that instability with weak joints.
Add these 2 exercises to increase hip and knee stability:
1. Thera-band Hip Matrix, Forwards/Reverse
2. Lateral/Medial Resistance Band Lunge (front knee)
I Before E, Except at Your Knee The last reason your vertical is impotent and your first step to dig a line shot is flaccid, is because your mechanics are horrendous. Ok, perhaps "horrendous" is a little aggressive, but improper muscle sequencing not only saps you of power, but actually contributes to chronic injuries like Patellofemoral Pain Syndrom (PFPS, aka. Jumper's Knee). To break it down to its most basic level, PFPS can be the result, in part, of the Vastus Lateralis (outer quad muscle) firing before the Vastus Medialis (inner quad muscle). Proper muscle sequencing, when jumping, is supposed to be medialis first, lateralis second. In addition, some of our strongest muscles tend to be our laziest. Our Gluteus Maximus (butt muscle) has the potential for great strength and power, but it is extremely lazy if we allow it to be, and it does not like to work when our Quadriceps are capable of taking the load.
Here are 2 extremely easy to do exercises, that will help create proper muscle sequencing within your body:
1. Vastus Medialis Obliques (VMO) activation
2. Gluteal firing sequence (independent of quads)
If you are a few weeks deep into your power training or don't even do power training, are 3 months out of season or are mid season, you can add these 6 exercises to any program to enhance your results. In addition to boosting your power and increasing your speed, agility, and vertical jump, they can help keep you from injury and will contribute to better all around body function. Don't find yourself on the beach this summer suffering from leap-ness envy, start these exercises today and watch your confidence grow!