“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” –Luis Pasteur
Pasteur is right. For some, tenacity is staying on the field longer than anyone else and working harder than the rest of their team. However, let’s face it. No one has all the time in the world to exercise a few hours a day and no one has an unlimited supply of energy. So what can you do?
Exercise more efficiently. But how?
Simple … fill an old volleyball with sand.
One of the most important things in volleyball is wrist strength. Hitters need it to snap the ball, setters to set, passers to go over the head, and blockers to block high balls. Each position requires strength in the wrist.
So … why the sand-filled volleyball?
First, this was not my idea. I was working on the SCVA high performance team and the father of one of my teammates, Lisa Weintraub, told me this. Second, it is better than a medicine ball because it is exactly the same size as a volleyball, with the same touch and feel. Third, while I use the weighted setter balls you can buy, they only weigh a few ounces more, and while that helps, my sand-filled volleyball weighs over 17 pounds.
How do you use it?
At night, when you are lying on your back or sitting watching South Park or The Simpsons, pick up that “delicate” ball of sand and start with the ball over your head, with both hands on it in a fixed position. Do not put the ball down or drop it because it is dangerous; rather, move your wrists up and down in a tightening motion for about 2 minutes without letting the ball slip from your fingers. As you get stronger, you will be able to do this for longer.
You can also consider filling the ball just a quarter of the way with sand to start, then as it gets stronger, add more sand.
This doesn’t seem like too much exercise, but in my personal experience, I’ve increased my wrist strength considerably after doing this every other day for about two weeks; I probably added 4 feet to my maximum adjustment distance in just this short amount of time.
The weighted ball helped me not only in the fit, I have more top-spin in my shots and I am hitting harder than ever.
Use those old volleyballs!
All you need is a few minutes a night with your own ball of sand.
How do you make a ball of sand, you ask? Follow these steps.
1. Find an old volleyball that you don’t use too often. Check garage sales or eBay if you don’t have an old ball. Don’t use a new ball, they are too pretty.
2. Drill a 4 “hole in the ball, through the leather and inner rubber bladder, and make sure it is large enough for sand.
3. Take duct tape and push it into the hole and stick it to the bladder, so that the bladder does not fall off and get covered with sand. Then tape the other end of the tape to the ball.
4. Take the ball to the beach or anywhere else you can find sand and start pouring it. I took a paper plate, rolled it up into a funnel, and started pouring cups of sand into the ball.
5. From time to time, gently bounce the ball so that the sand settles; keep filling until very full.
6. Take those duct tape flaps that were on the outside of the ball and tuck them between the leather and the bladder as a kind of cover. Take more duct tape and place it between the bladder and the leather, taping the TOP of the forced bottom flaps to seal it even more.
7. Pinch the opening and bring the cut edges together, as you would when repairing a tear in clothing. Personally, I then took some Gorilla glue and poured it onto the area to “sew” on. I covered the glue with a plastic bag so I could take more tape and used it to apply tension to each side of the seam, pulling it through the stitch and on top of the clear plastic. I thought the plastic would allow me to remove the masking tape more easily than removing the masking tape from the glue.
8. After it dries, DO NOT overdo it; the ball is heavy. Start by cupping the ball and simply swinging your arms. As you get stronger, move the ball to your fingers, then finally start using your wrists, but only after you feel comfortable, this is VERY HEAVY and you don’t want to hurt yourself. After a couple of weeks, I was setting the sandball about 5 feet high for my dad, and he would catch it a few feet away and then return it to me. It gets tiring. It’s hard work, but it makes you very strong.
And remember, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.