Three Common Volleyball Injuries and How to Prevent Them [Free Downloads] $0.00

Three Common Volleyball Injuries and How to Prevent Them [Free Downloads]

By: Rebecca Moore |
Common Volleyball Injuries

Volleyball may not be a contact sport, but that doesn’t stop injuries from frequenting its players. This fast-paced, physically intensive game is comprised of a series of movements that put players’ bodies at risk, like:

  • Jumping
  • Extended overhead positions
  • Lateral shuffling
  • Quick bursts of movement in all directions
  • Deep squatting

Physical therapist and world-renowned educator Dr. Kevin Wilk PT, DPT, FAPTA has received international praise for his Throwers 10 Program, targeting injury prevention for baseball athletes. Recently, he has adapted this program to best suit the volleyball population, and we’re excited to debut his protocol; but before we get into his expert exercises, let’s review the top three injuries he (and all volleyball players!) are up against, as well as the best tools to use to prevent them:

Ankle Injuries

Ankle Injuries in Volleyball

Ankle injuries account for about 40% of all volleyball-related injuries, making them the most common acute injury treated in this population.1 Unfortunately, preventing these injuries can be tougher than most. While some inversion ankle injuries occur during clumsy lateral movement, one study proved that the majority of injuries occur while blocking, often landing on an opponent’s foot underneath the net.

“The attacker is overwhelmingly to blame for injuries at the net, secondary to crossing the centerline. Injuries while attacking often result from a back-row player landing on a front-row teammate. Landing-related injuries mostly result from rapid inversion with the absence of plantar flexion.”2

To rehabilitate and prevent strains, sprains and breaks, prescribe players a combination of strength and stability training so they may build the muscles and balance they need to support explosive movement. Ankle braces are also commonplace as additional support against accidents.

Knee Injuries

Knee Injuries in Volleyball

Volleyball players are frequently plagued by two knee injuries: patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

Patellar Tendonitis

Setters and hitters all rely on explosive jumping to perform their duties on the court, and even defensive specialists can engage in repetitive jumping at some point throughout a match. The overuse and stress this motion causes on the knee can result in inflammation to the patellar tendon, resulting in a case of jumper’s knee.

To prevent this injury, athletic trainers and physical therapists are encouraged to focus on the eccentric contraction of the quadriceps during the landing phase of the jump. Stretching and strengthening exercises of these muscles can also be supplemented with the use of patellar straps to unload tendon stress.

ACL Tears

In 2013, a study found that women were two to eight times more likely than men to suffer a debilitating tear of the ACL.3 Due to a decreased inability to control frontal-plane knee loading, the authors discovered that women were 3.6 times more likely to land with their knees in dynamic valgus, which is a significant risk factor for ACL injuries.3

As a result of data like this, researchers set out to find exercises that improve knee biomechanics during jump landing in female adolescent volleyball players. One study in particular found that placing a TheraBand CLX Elastic Resistance Band around the knees can lead to significantly better alignment may be beneficial in reducing the risk of ACL injury.4 Using similar exercises that strengthen the gluteus medius and hip musculature should be the cornerstone of every ACL injury prevention program.

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder Injuries in Volleyball

Overhead athletes of all sports and genders are at an increased risk of shoulder injuries, and volleyball players are no exception to this rule. A good majority of volleyball is performed in an overhead position (hitting, blocking, serving, setting), but when it comes to injury population, a study found that attackers and jump servers were more likely to have shoulder problems than setters, defensive specialists and float servers.5 The same study showed an association between asymmetric coracoid tightness, pectoral shortening and restricted shoulder flexion in the sagittal plane to shoulder injuries. Core muscle endurance is also a proven predictor of shoulder dysfunction in volleyball players.6

Extreme torque and overuse of the shoulder in compromising, overhead positions lay the groundwork for rotator cuff or labral strains/tears. Based on the available data, strengthening exercises that target the entire shoulder musculature as well as the core can not only rehabilitate injuries, but prevent them from happening in the first place (thankfully, Dr. Wilk has exercises that target these muscles simultaneously!).

Best Tools for Volleyball Injury Prevention Exercises

Athletes, especially student-athletes, have demanding schedules that may not allow them to spend hours in the gym, clinic or athletic training room to work on their injury prevention plans. To reduce injury risk, relying on a research-proven tool like elastic resistance bands can benefit your athletes in three main ways:

  1. Elastic resistance is portable, convenient and inexpensive for athletes to use at home, on the road or on the court.
  2. Elastic resistance has been proven to provide results similar to those found in traditional weight training (check out this article for an in-depth analysis of these two methods of training).
  3. Elastic resistance provides one tool to satisfy all of your athlete’s training needs. Even better, pairing a looped band like the TheraBand CLX with the TheraBand CLX Door Anchor gives volleyball players even more exercise possibilities.

In fact, those two tools are the only products you need to complete Dr. Wilk’s Volleyball 10 Program! If you’re ready to integrate this protocol into your training repertoire, see the provided resources.

Watch the videos below to master the movements

Download our printable exercise guide to give your athletes a visual reminder of their exercise program

Volleyball Ten





4. Voight M et al. 2017. The Impact of Hip Abduction Elastic-Resisted Neuromuscular Feedback on Frontal Plane Knee Kinematics in Female Volleyball Athletes J Perform Health Res 1(2):23-30

5. Risk Factors for Volleyball-Related Shoulder Pain and Dysfunction. Available from:

6. Predictors of Overuse Shoulder Injuries in Collegiate Volleyball Athletes. Available from: