Plyometric Vs Skills-Based Conditioning For Volleyball Players: How Each Stacks Up

agility drills

Alyssa Bialowas

volleyball teamThere is a lack of studies on the effectiveness of plyometric training on conditioning capacities in female volleyball players. Volleyball involves repeated jumping, agility in the form of sprinting and changing direction, requires high aerobic power as well as involves strength of the upper and lower body muscles. Athletes, coaches, sport scientists and professionals concerned with training these skills stay up to date with the most effective training methods that lead to improvements in athlete capacity. The debate shifts from a focus on plyometric training versus volleyball skill-based-conditioning, or skill-based training to improve specific athletic abilities. This study compared these two training methods to compare the improvements in conditioning capacities of female senior volleyball players.

The Study

50 participants were chosen for this study, all females over the age of 18 whom had played competitive volleyball for at least 8 years prior to the study. Participants were divided into two groups, the plyometric group or the skills based group. The study occurred over a 12-week period, and training protocols were performed twice a week and lasted up to 60 minutes per session.

The plyometric training included a lot of jumping exercises for the lower body, such as leg hops, vertical jumps; tuck jumps, and lateral and diagonal jumps. It also included a lot of throwing exercises for the upper body, such as explosive push-ups, clapping push-ups, and medicine ball throws. The exercises in the first 5 weeks of the training session were performed at low to moderate intensity, and higher intensity exercises were introduced by week 6, and steadily increased through to week 12.

The skills based conditioning included volleyball drills, such as digging, spiking and blocking drills. Additionally in the training, small-sided games such as 3 vs. 3 on court at moderate to high intensity, and real-game drills at the standard 6 vs. 6, with break times kept at 1-2 minutes to imply higher intensity of the training. The skills based conditioning group participated in these drills for the same duration of the plyometric group, which totaled 12 weeks.  

Related Article: Maximize Performance With Plyometrics & HIIT   

The Results

The participants in both groups experienced improvements in throwing and jumping capacities, but the improvements were larger in the plyometric-conditioning group. The plyometric group significantly reduced body mass, improved their performance in 20-meter sprints, significantly improved in their medicine ball toss capacity, as well as their vertical counter movement jump. The skills based conditioning group did not see a decrease in body mass, which can be said that the players involved were highly familiar with the exercises already being performed in the study.


The plyometric conditioning group experienced greater improvements to their throwing, jumping, sprinting, and decreased their body mass. The skills based conditioning group experienced similar workload and energy training demands as their normal volleyball training and conditioning, meaning that there were low metabolic costs and low energy expenditure related to their training.

In terms of training for specific training capacities for specific sports, plyometric training is seen to be more beneficial than skills-based conditioning in elite female volleyball players. Skills based conditioning provides a solid developmental base, but the best improvements for volleyball specific skills are seen after multiple weeks of plyometric training.

Related Article: How HIIT Can Improve Cardiovascular Function

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Gjinovci, B., Idrizovic, K., Sekulic, D., & Uljevic, O. (2017). “Plyometric Training

Improves Sprinting, Jumping and Throwing Capacities of High Level Female

Volleyball Players Better Than Skill-Based Conditioning.” Journal of Sports

Science and Medicine, 16, 527-535. 

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