Part 2: DePaul’s Zidek’s year-long plan to train a college volleyball team

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Offseason volleyball training 2/4/2020-Marie Zidek-DePaul volleyball
DePaul coach Marie Zidek talks to her team in a time out/DePaul photo

Marie Zidek is likely the college volleyball coach most qualified to physically prepare her team.
Not only is she entering her third year as the super-fit head coach at DePaul University in her home town of Chicago, Zidek graduated from Northern Illinois in 2006 with a degree in kinesiology and then got her master’s degree in exercise and sports science at Oregon State in 2010. What’s more, she is also an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning coach. We asked her about how she trains her college team in the offseason and thoughts she had about club teams training in season and how high school programs might prepare during the spring and summer.
Click here if you missed the first story.
In this second of two articles, she offers a plan to train a college program in the offseason right into the season:

Through March, 8-hour phase post season
The first thing is to address needs from previous season and increasing work economy/ability to handle longer periods of work-load. Assess where your athletes left off. Are they injured? How well were you playing in November? How healthy did you look? Where you jumping well or were your kids fatigued and becoming inconsistent? Answering these:  

For example, my past season, we were playing our best volleyball and looked our best as athletes in November. We also had very little to no injured players. In other words, my players were feeling fresher and motivated as the season wore on. 

That takes incredible coordination with practice planning, your athletic trainer, and your strength coaches. I met daily with my athletic trainer who provided me with insight into who was sore from the day previous, and we were able to catch aches and pains before they became injuries. 

With my strength coach, we worked hard starting in that year’s January with the goal in mind of being our best in November. This communication is vital. Also, meet your athletes where they are even if you want them to be further along than they are. This may mean you need to cut practice time or not jump some days. You want your athletes playing their best and feeling their best in November when the push for post season gets very important. 

My takeaways from last season that we are addressing this season: upper body strength (we got blown up too much on the block, not strong enough over head to execute over head setting movements long distance, and need to improve our push up position off the ground to recover from emergency body postures that take us to the floor while the rally is still going on); attack pace and serve pace; first step quickness and reaction to deflected balls

— Dynamic consists of shoulder and hip work

— 45 minutes Weights 3 x per week

— Loads start in the strength phase and increasing work capacity then push to the power phase ending with spring break.

We’re already into February, but in January we did the following:

— Monday – full body capacity workout with cleans, lunges and push ups

— Wednesday – full body with upper body focus, including squats, push press, pulls, shoulder complex, row

— Friday – circuit competitions for reps and time with Slide boards, goblet squats for time

— Also, 45 minutes Conditioning Sessions 2 x per week, 1 court session including lower level plyos, sprinting, agility, med ball, 1 cross conditioning session (spinning or cardio kick boxing, and 4 hours court volleyball practice per week

Marie Zidek during a DePaul practice

March and April, 20-hour phase
We get back into full time training, which is everyday for 2-2.5 hours, so conditioning gets dropped out. We are also allowed four play dates

      • Back to full dynamic with shoulder, hip work, and movement rehearsal
      • 40 minutes Weights 3 x per week
        • Monday – full body capacity
          • Squats, lunges, pull ups, etc.
          • Lateral band work with lower body
          • balance
        • Wednesday – power with upper body focus
          • Cleans, jerks, push press, medball throws, rotational cable movements
        • Friday – circuit competition or stretch
          • Stretch and mobility session only if we play on that weekend

— May-June, 8-hours phase

    • Weight room goes back to strength and increasing work volume 3x per week
    • We try to get outdoors for some grass training and sand training
    • Conditioning 2 x per week both outdoor sessions that work on balance and longer sprints and interval sessions including beach training

— Summer

    • July
      • Weights increase in intensity to power … getting the athletes ready for preseason. 
      • Pre-weight workouts address core, shoulder, balance postures, and mobility + stretching)

— Preseason

    • August–Mid-September
      • Dynamic warmup every session that lasts about 15 minutes total
        • includes shoulder, hip, balance, and movement rehearsal
      • 45 minutes Weights 1 x every 4 day block
      • Practice rhythms:  starting approximately August 8, we train 2 days with 2 sessions each day, followed by a single practice with a lift, followed by a day off. We use that rhythm until the week of our first competition, where we drop down to one practice per day and lift 1x that week at least 3 days out of our first competition. 

— Season, Phase 1, Conference

    • Middle of September-November
      • Dynamic warmup every session that lasts about 15 minutes total
        • includes shoulder, hip, balance, and movement rehearsal
      • Weights 2 x 45-minutes sessions per week
        • Includes ankle and lower limb balance
        • Workout split into thirds 
          • first third addressed little things like core activation, hip mobility, spinal rotation and stabilization
          • second third addresses ‘meat and potatoes’ including squats, push jerks, pull ups, cleans
          • last third address shoulder strength and upper body strength including dumbbell shoulder complex exercises, cable pulls, and mobility exercises

Season, Phase 2, Postseason

    • Dynamic warmup every session that lasts about 15 minutes total
      • includes shoulder, hip, balance, and movement rehearsal
    • Weights 1 x per week leading up to weekend competition
      • Hip mobility, stretching, core work
      • Meat and potatoes section way less (2 sets of 3-5 reps for main exercises) 

Sample Volleyball Workouts
Workout 1
Warmup: 3-5 minutes continuous activity (jump rope, jogging, biking, etc.) + shoulder band circuit ITY series and internal shoulder stretch 

Dynamic:  10-pound plate (repeat 2x through with 1 minute rest in-between for quick drink)

  • Giant circles x 8R/ 8L
  • Lunges w/ twist x 8R/ 8L
  • Squat to overhead press x 20
  • Reverse sit-ups x 20
  • Squat jumps x 10 (holding plate at chest height)

Lifting:

  • Barbell squat 3 x 8 + DB rows 3 x 8R/8L + plank hold 3 x 60seconds
  • DB dip and drives 3 x 6 + pull-ups 3 x max reps + theraball circles 3 x 20R/ 20L
  • Single leg step ups 3 x 8R/8L + 3-way shoulder series 3 x 10-10-10 + side to side hop ’n ’holds 3 x 20
  • Plate choppers 3 x 10R/10L + Hip bridge 3 x 6R/6L + med-ball walk –overs 3 x 5R/5L

Stretch:

  • Quad holds 2 x 30 seconds
  • Lateral lunge holds 2 x 30 seconds (right, center, left)
  • Sitting Figure 4 holds 2 x 30 seconds
  • Partner Hamstring stretch 2 x 30 seconds each leg
  • Internal Rotation shoulder stretch 2 x 30 seconds each shoulder 

Workout 2
Warmup: 3-5 minutes continuous activity (jump rope, jogging, biking, etc.) + shoulder band circuit

Dynamic: 30 yard space

  • High knees + jog back 
  • Butt kicks + job back
  • Shuffle 2 steps lunge right then left, switch directions every other, there and back
  • Backwards arm circles into deep squat there and back
  • Side to side hop and holds there and back
  • Mountain climbers x 30 total into inch worm
  • Carioca there and back
  • Half skips there and back
  • High skips there and back
  • Hacky Sack (front front back back touches)
  • Ankle flips (ankle bursts pulling toes to nose)
  • 50 percent sprints through line x 2
  • 75 percent sprints through line x 2

Lift: 

  • RDL 3 x 8 + DB pull-overs on bench + plank hold 3 x 30-30-30 seconds 
  • DB Reverse Lunges 3 x 8R/8L + plate 10/2 drops + partner push up claps 3 x 50 total
  • Single leg RDL DB pick-up into overhead press 3 x 8R/8L + Lat pull-downs 3 x 8 + jack-knife sit-ups
  • Single leg squats (using bench) 3 x 6R/6L + push-ups 3 x 10 + theraball circles x 20R/20L

Stretch:

  • Quad holds 2 x 30 seconds
  • Lateral lunge holds 2 x 30 seconds (right, center, left)
  • Sitting Figure 4 holds 2 x 30 seconds
  • Partner Hamstring stretch 2 x 30 seconds each leg
  • Internal Rotation shoulder stretch 2 x 30 seconds each shoulder 

Workout 3
Warmup:  3-5 minutes continuous activity (jump rope, jogging, biking, etc.) + shoulder band circuit

Dynamic Warm-up:

  • Giant circles x 8R/ 8L
  • Lunges w/ twist x 8R/ 8L
  • Squat to overhead press x 20
  • Reverse sit-ups x 20
  • Woodchoppers x 10R/10L
  • Scissor jumps x 8R/8L (holding plate at chest height)

Med-ball: (partners) x 3 times through

  • Chest pass (quarter squat stance) x 10 each
  • Square side pass x 10 each
  • Sideways facing shovel throws x 10 each 
  • Lying overhead sit up throws x 10 each
  • Russian twist to chest pass x 10 each
  • Sideways seated shovel toss x 10 each/ both sides
  • shot-put toss to wall x 10 each arm
  • over-head slam to underhand heave toss x 8 
  • V slam x 20 
  • Bound in, bound to wall x 10 each

Stretch:

  • Quad holds 2 x 30 seconds
  • Lateral lunge holds 2 x 30 seconds (right, center, left)
  • Sitting Figure 4 holds 2 x 30 seconds
  • Partner Hamstring stretch 2 x 30 seconds each leg
  • Internal Rotation shoulder stretch 2 x 30 seconds each shoulder

Want to learn more or give feedback? Contact Marie Zidek at mzidek@depaul.edu

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