By Kash Morrow
I have had the opportunity to strength train my two daughters for the last few years. Savannah is 16 years old, 5’10”, a junior in High School and a volleyball athlete. Madison is 14 years old, 5’4”, 92lbs, a freshman in High School and a volleyball and basketball athlete. Savannah now strength trains on her own while Madison still does her training sessions with me. We have been able to spend some quality time together and have had some pretty good conversations about whatever was going on in their lives at the time. Some sessions were strictly about strength while others were about the girls just bumping the volleyball back and forth and then getting in a few sessions of swings.
I recently followed up an earlier discussion with Pavel which ended with advice on how I should incorporate strength training into Madison’s practice, with a specific goal of improving her overhand serve.
￼I had first contacted Pavel in May 2012 seeking advice on how to get Madison strong enough over the next few months so she could overhand serve. Pavel recommended she focus primarily on pullups. She did, and reached the point where she could do multiple sets of 2-5 with a max of 8. She did pullups and practiced her overhand serve. By the beginning of her seventh grade volleyball season, she was around 4’8” and maybe 75 pounds. She was little, but quick and strong and had an effective overhand serve. Since that time, she has strength trained consistently. She worked with Senior SFG Jason Marshall a couple of times and added in swings, TGU’s, goblet squats, deadlifts, and hard style planks.
Strength training with my daughters has been very rewarding but at times frustrating. There have been a few times when my daughters have questioned why they are doing a certain exercise versus another one. They also are not shy about voicing any and all doubts and complaints. That’s ok and to be expected (there haven’t been many complaints) but it makes it somewhat challenging. I think it’s good for them to ask questions so they can form their own opinions. Try to make sure you have an answer. Saying “because I told you to”, has not worked well for me.
Also, if you as a parent elect to go down the path of strength training your kids, you need to realize that there may come a time when they want to do something else or do it differently. My oldest daughter, Savannah, trained with me and her younger sister last summer. She decided that she wanted to strength train on her own this year. She is primarily doing multiple sets of goblet squats and overhead presses. She picked two good exercises to focus on. She is also doing a variety of lunges and some pushups. The important thing is that she recognizes the importance of strength training, has a few good exercises in her arsenal, and as Dan John says: “is showing up”. One of our goals as parents should be to instill self-reliance in our children. Her showing up on her own is a big deal. While I admit that I miss our training or practice sessions together, I’m proud of her. If your kids enjoy training with you it can be a good experience for both of you. If not, I would urge you to find something else to do together.
With my daughters I’ve learned that I have to simplify and keep the entire workout short. The primary focus is on strength. I suggest that you take an Easy Strength approach. Have a limited number of high return exercises, keep the reps low, let the weights go up naturally, and stop the session if they are having a bad day. Both girls had sand volleyball three afternoons a week and indoor volleyball 2-3 mornings a week for most of the summer. The training sessions that Madison started with this past Summer included a handful of different warm-up and stretching exercises that took about 10 minutes to complete. The actual practice included swings, deadlifts, presses, power cleans, and loaded carries. That took another 20-30 minutes. By the midway point of the break, we had figured out that there were a few exercises that Madison wasn’t receiving benefit from so we simplified again and tried to get rid of any and all fluff. The first part of the summer Madison was doing half-TGU’s for 8-12 reps each side with a light KB. SFG Al Ciampa suggested that we change that to full TGU’s, 2-3 reps per side, at a weight that is right at the edge of her ability. She has seen a good return on that. We ditched the Spider-Man crawls, the stretching is being taken care of in her volleyball warmup, no more presses at this time because she’s getting enough overhead work at practice, and we dropped the deadlift and power clean for the next couple of months. We have recently added Full Contact Twist and 1-arm Bench Press. We are going to try the Full Contact Twist for 3-4 weeks to see if there is an increase in power on her serves.
An example of Madison’s sessions, both in-season and off- season are:
Madison Summer Workout 2014 2-4 days per week
Rocks, Nods, Spider-Man Crawl, Standing Cross Crawl Overhead Squats w/PVC 2X8
Hip Flexor Stretch 1X5 each side
Goblet Squats 1X8
Half-TGU’s 8-12 each side w/light KB
Jumprope 25-50 reps forward and backward
Single leg box squat 1X5 each leg
Deadlift: around 10 reps 2X5, 3X3, 6X1
Single or Double KB Overhead Press: around 10 reps
Swings: 30-50 reps 16kg bell (sets of 10)
Lateral walk w/band
Power Wheel 1X5
Hardstyle Plank: 1
*We alternated between Deadlift and Power Clean every other workout. Same reps.
In-Season Workout: *2-3 times per week
Rocks, Nods 1X10
Overhead Squat w/pvc 1-2X8
**Goblet Squat 1X8
TGU’s 2-3 each side with a challenging weight
Full Contact Twists 2X5
1-arm bench press: around 10 reps each side
Various Style Swings with 16kg bell: 4X10 Hardstyle, Ballistic, 1 Hand
Farmers Walk: 200+/- yards with 16 kg bells. We vary the total distance and number of stops every workout. We are about to increase the weight.
Lateral walk w/band
Power Wheel 1-3 sets of 7
*Every third workout or so, we add every loaded carry we can think of. She does a few reps of pullups throughout the week.
*If we are short on time, she only does the rocks, nods and Farmers Walk.
**We just replaced the Goblet Squat with Double KB Front Squats, 3X8. Madison wants to add a little size to her legs. She is going rock bottom and using a challenging weight.
Madison is one of two freshmen who’ve been asked to play both JV and Varsity this season at her High School. She is by far the smallest girl on the varsity team. At the first game of the season the coach told the girls that Madison was the only player he wanted to jump serve. Between three JV games and four Varsity games that night, Madison made 30+ jump serves without missing a single one. On the court, her strength and quickness were very visible. Intensity and an adequate amount of time spent practicing your sport are two important parts of success on the field of play. Being stronger than your competition is a very important third.