Every day before they started training during my time at SC Potsdam, the German professional women’s team, I watched the squad go through a kind of pre-hab circuit (also known as “activation”). It’s fairly straightforward (especially compared to the one I saw at USC the year before that included tight-rope walking!), so I figured I would share it here. It features 13 different stations.

1) Balance board: forward-backward
2) Balance board: side-to-side
3) Balance board: all-direction

These three basically involve the players maintaining their balance while doing slow squat movements. As you can imagine, the all-direction (basically, a platform with a half ball attached to the bottom of it) is the most challenging.

4) Bridges
5) One-leg bridges (right)
6) One-leg bridges (left)

Bridges are exercises where you lay on your back with your knees bent, then lift your butt up from the floor. In the one leg version you extend one leg up in the air, so bridging using only the leg on the ground.

7) Front plank
8) Side plank: left
9) Side plank: right

On the left/right planks, you have the players do a dip by letting their hip drop toward the floor, then returning back to the start position.

10) Crunches
11) V-Twist

The crunches featured legs straight up in the air with the toes pulled back toward the torso, but you can mix it up. For the V-twist, from a semi-piked position (legs and torso off the ground), players twist from side-to-side. Do them with an object such as a medicine ball which you can move back and forth.

12) Opposite arm/leg raise: right
13) Opposite arm/leg raise: left

These raises are done either from a prone position or on hands and knees. The player simultaneously raises the right arm and left leg (or left arm and right leg).

As you’ll notice, there’s a heavy core focus, with the balance board stuff essentially working on lower body stability. Each of these exercises is done for 20-30 seconds, with a break of a couple minutes after each full circuit. The team usually did 3 circuits.

I don’t share this routine to say this is what you should do with your team, but simply to provide some ideas for a framework. Also, it reinforces the idea that core can/should be done every day (or nearly so). You can modify as desired.

I did this sort of pre-training activity a couple days a week when I coached at Svedala. We would have done it every day, but one day practice fell after weight training, while another day we practiced away from our normal gym. I used a variety of available physical education devices (medicine balls, floor mats, cones, etc.) to set up the exercises and I mixed them up each time.

You can find a bunch of other examples of these routines here.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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