Healthy Beach Volleyball Shoulder

Volleyball can be a very taxing sport on the shoulder joint. Although there are many muscle groups that come into play in terms of attacking, serving and setting, the deltoids, rhomboids and rotator cuff is one set of muscles that needs a great amount of attention.

Below are 4 exercises every volleyball player should add to their warm up or even strength training routine for healthy shoulders. Keep in mind these are tiny muscles and you do not need heavy weight if any weight. Body weight, water bottles, soup cans, 2.5 lb weights work just fine. Repititions of 10 and sets of 3 are standard for a warm up. If any of the exercises are painful, do not do them. Only push as far as your body will allow. Progressive strength gained over time is key.


Start by lying on your stomach on a table, bench or boardwalk (if at the beach). Put both arms out at shoulder level with your elbow bent to 90° and your hands down. Keep your elbow bent, and slowly raise your hands. Stop when your hands are level with your shoulder. Lower your hands slowly.


Lie on your right side with a rolled-up towel under your right armpit. Stretch your right arm above your head. Keep your left arm at your side with your elbow bent to 90° and the forearm resting against your chest, palm down. Roll your left shoulder out, raising the left forearm until it's level with your shoulder. (Hint: This is like the backhand swing in tennis.) Lower the arm slowly. Be sure to do both shoulders.


Stand shoulder width apart, flex knees and hips to lean forward. Keep your back straight. Hold dumbbells below chest and keep arms slightly flexed. Raise arms to sides until elbows are slightly higher than shoulders. Keep upper arms perpendicular to body and elbows pointing up. Imagine pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades for greatest range of motion.

In a standing position, start with your right arm halfway between the front and side of your body, thumb down. (You may need to raise your left arm for balance.) Raise your right arm until almost level (about a 45° angle). (Hint: This is like emptying a can.) Don't lift beyond the point of pain. Slowly lower your arm.



When performing any shoulder exercise, try very hard NOT TO shrug your shoulders but rather depress them. If you do not pay attention to this movement, you will activate the upper trapezius which is an already overactive muscle.



Flexibility training is JUST AS IMPORTANT as strength training. After you've completed your shoulder routine, stretch your chest. Below is a picture of a good stretch you can do in any doorway (or against a pole at the beach). Hold the position for at least 20 seconds, breathing deeply as you inch further and further. This is a static stretch which should be done AFTER exercising (or playing) and not before.


All of the above exercises will help you create and maintain a healthy shoulder throughout your volleyball career.

Be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions or even exercises not listed that you'd like to share.

See you at the beach...



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