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There were many different forms of punishment and conditioning that I endured as a player, but none more than sprints. When we complained of sprints, it became burpees, pushups, sit ups, squats, dives, and other movements. Did these barrage of physical tests help me as a volleyball player? In retrospect, I’d like to think think they did, at least mentally. But they probably didn’t. I’ve seen sprints administered from five seconds to a minute and seventeen seconds. Endless burpees demanded of players with complete disregard to form. I have a few key questions about these punishments:


1) What’s the problem with these punishments?

2) Do the mental gains outweigh the poor movement mechanics that usually occur?

3) Why are these punishments being administered?

4) What is the best punishment?


I will address these 4 questions in a huge 4 part blog post.

Firstly, what’s wrong with most punishments today? They are applied incorrectly, in excess, and at the wrong time of the year. I will elaborate on some of the most common punishments below.

Sprints: Sprints can be a great training tool if they are applied correctly.

  • Correct work-to-rest ratio (in season 1:5, off season 1:12-1:20). If players are sprinting not utilizing a volleyball energy system, their bodies are not going to get better for volleyball. Check out my energy system blog post for more details.
  • Players shouldn’t have to touch the line. Most every player will do this incorrectly by side bending and lose their core stability. If they lose their foundation (core) they have lost the ability to have efficient energy transfer from their legs to their center of mass, and this is an injury just waiting to happen. Not to mention this is extremely hard for tall people like volleyball players.


Push Ups: Again, push ups can be OK if they are done and applied correctly.

  • Push ups should be a core exercise, NOT a chest exercise. Keep elbows in, entire body should move as a plank with their shoulder blades in the correct position.
  • Your pec in volleyball does two things: eccentrically contracts in pre-swing phase, and concentrically contracts during the swing phase. So why train it do push ups? I quoted Gray Cook (Physical therapist and strength and conditioning guru) in a previous post – doing push ups to get a better arm swing is like taking a shoe box of letters and words, throwing it at a wall and expecting a dictionary come out.


Burpees: Probably the worst offender of all punishments.

  • To do a burpee correctly is incredibly hard. You must lower yourself down in a push up without compromising your core. Do a correct push up. Jump up into a proper squat, without rounding your lower back, and them jump. It doesn’t end there, landing must be down with just as much technique. You should land the same way you loaded to jump, assuming it was done correctly.
  • Just don’t do burpees. They are awful.


In conclusion, next time you receive or see punishments being administered, think: is this working my sport’s energy system? Is this a movement I normally do in my sport? Am I being forced to compromise my mechanics due to the high volume/intensity of the punishment?


Train Smarter to Play Harder

Please comment or feel free to email me with any comments, critiques, or questions.

Austin Einhorn, CSCS

Volleyball Skills & Conditioning Specialist

Contact: [email protected]