Jumping Does NOT Build Leg Strength in Volleyball Athletes

I’m going to tackle one of my biggest pet peeves when discussing volleyball athletes: coaches who claim jumping builds leg “strength”.

Sorry, and I hate to burst your bubble but it doesn’t.

What I’m going to write below might seem like wordplay, but truthfully is a very important differentiation to make. If volleyball athletes are led to believe jumping builds leg strength, which translates to jumping higher, they will quickly convince themselves that year-round jumping is safe and acceptable when it is one of the worst things they can do for long-term health and development.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Jumping builds leg speed – which is power.  Power is heavily reliant on muscular strength.  If you can’t apply much force, you can’t apply much force quickly.

  2. Jumping also builds muscular endurance in the thighs, hips, and calves.  Muscular endurance, too, is heavily reliant on muscular strength. If you don’t have strength, you can’t have strength endurance. 

If /when a volleyball athlete begins incorporating strength training into their programming, power and endurance will typically follow as a result. This has been shown time and time again in the research and anecdotally, both in jumping and other athletic situations common to volleyball (blocking, hitting, etc). However, if you focus on training using power and endurance exclusively, strength almost never goes up.

If that were the case, we’d see loads of athletes stronger at the end of a season than they were at the beginning, but those who have been around towards the end of a club or school season know that’s not what happens.

Now I personally believe one of the hidden benefits of including weighted jump training or loaded jump training, essentially helps blur the line between leg strength and speed. Here is a video we shot the other week using resistance bands followed by two dynamic jumps.

Of course, this style of training depends heavily on the volume, frequency, load, and type resistance utilized (bands, weighted vest, medicine balls, etc), as well as the time of year at which we would program them into the workout which referring to off-season vs in-season programming.

Regardless on which jump program you might use, feel free to say that you’re building “leg speed” or “leg endurance,” but please do me a favor and don’t attempt to pass this off as building “leg strength” to your athletes or their parents.