Saturday, July 28, 2012

Maximize Practice Time By Eliminating Static Stretching

It's properly been observed for volleyball coaches that, "practice is the battle you must win."  (Hugh McCutcheon, U.S. National Women's Team Coach).  To win the practice battle, coaches must maximize the time they have with their players and follow sound principles of teaching through the practice session.  In this post, we'll talk about maximizing practice time by eliminating static stretching from your practice routines.

You’re ready to begin practice but the team needs to "warm-up."  So they walk out to the court, sit down in a circle and begin a series of static stretches ostensibly designed to get them ready to practice volleyball.  Right?  Wrong.  Waste of time.

Science of Static Stretching 
Current research demonstrates that static stretching prior to dynamic activities like playing volleyball decreases motor unit recruitment, motor unit synchronization and rate of force production.  In other words, stretching before practice inhibits performance and does not reduce injury.

In 2004, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study that reviewed 361 other research studies on stretching and concluded that there was no evidence that stretching before or after exercise prevents injury or muscle soreness [1].

In a more recent study conducted by kinesiology researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all [2].

In fact, there's evidence that static stretching actually decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 percent.
According to research conducted by the Tudor Bompa Institute, static stretching causes the muscle to lengthen, which interferes with its ability to recoil or contract forcefully.  The result of this stretching for volleyball players is that they experience a loss of power production. [3]  So please eliminate static stretching from costing you the first 10 minutes of every practice.

But even if you're not convinced by the stuffy scientific journals, at least be persuaded by the wisdom of what USA Volleyball's John Kessel calls the "recess rule," according to which "you sit 2 hours then go full bore for 15 min, no problem."

Have you ever seen kids stretch before they go to recess?  Of course not.  They don't want to waste recess time.  Exactly.  So, no more static stretching; it doesn't make the players safer and doesn't help their performance.  Get rid of the routine and extend your practice by 10 minutes.

[1]  The results are published in the March 2004 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.
[2]  Samuel, M., Holcolm, W., Acute Effects of Static and Ballistic Stretching on Measures of Strength and Power, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 22(5): 1422-1428 (Sept. 2008)).
[3]  Gary Rothbart, The Effects of Stretching on Power Output for Volleyball Players, December 2011 <>

[Originally published March 26, 2012]

No comments:

Post a Comment