Believe it or not the sport of volleyball has been around since 1895 and started at a YMCA. It was designed as a combination of basketball, tennis, baseball, and handball. However, it didn’t really become an overhead sport until 1916 when the high pass (set) was developed for an attack to take place. Since then, the game has evolved tremendously and it is now the largest female team youth sport in U.S. high schools. Youth athletes can play year round through their school season and then transition to club volleyball. This seems to be a common trend with youth athletes as we find fewer multi-sport athletes, thus leading to an increase in injuries. Not surprisingly, overuse accounts for almost 50% of all sports injuries in middle and high school athletes. Listed below are the top 5 volleyball related injuries seen in youth athletes as well as ways in which you can avoid injury.
Volleyball athletes are more susceptible to injuring their ankles, shoulders, fingers/thumb, back, and knees. In this blog, we are going to discuss some common reasons as to why these joints and structures are injured when playing this sport.
- Ankle injuries are the most common injury accounting for approximately 26% of all volleyball injuries. Usually resulting from landing on another player’s foot when landing from a block or attack.
- Injuries to the shoulder can occur due to repetitive overhead swings, and “faulty” hitting mechanics such as swinging for a ball behind you/off to the side. The outside hitter is the most commonly injured player and typically takes the most swings during a match.
- Fingers and thumbs can get injured when players are blocking or attacking the volleyball.
- Back pain is typically from arching one’s back when leaning backwards to hit the volleyball behind them.
- Knee pain and/or injuries are associated with poor landing mechanics from a jump or diving on the floor resulting from repetitive impact on the knee.
Ways to Avoid The Top 5 Volleyball Related Injuries Seen in Youth Athletes
Most of these top 5 volleyball related injuries seen in youth athletes can be prevented by putting your body in a better position to hit the volleyball, i.e. improving mechanics. This is not as easy as it seems as we often notice volleyball players continually reaching behind them to attack a volleyball and/or landing on one foot. Athletes, and humans in general, are very good at adapting to these unpredictable situations. Sometimes, it all works out and other times it doesn’t. Therefore, as athletes we need to train for the unpredictable situations. All of these “faulty” positions need to be trained off the court by incorporating a sport-specific strength and mobility program for injury prevention.
This principal isn’t specific to just volleyball. All athletes should participate in sport-specific training with a professional to reduce risk of or prevent injury occurrence. Here at Impact, we offer free sport screenings for youth athletes to determine if players are at risk for injury and in need of professional help. If your athletes are seeking training, we offer elite sports performance training with a Doctor of Physical Therapy to make sure they are in optimal condition for your season!
By: Dr. Tricia O’Driscoll PT, DPT