How to Make a Weighted Volleyball Setter's Ball
“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” –Louis Pasteur
Pasteur is correct. To some, tenacity is staying out on the field longer than anyone else and working out harder than the rest of your team. However, let’s be realistic. No one has all the time in the world to work out a few extra hours a day and no one has an unlimited supply of energy. So what can one do?
Work-out 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 for snapping on the ball, setters to set, passers to overhand pass, and blockers to block high balls. Every position needs wrist strength.
So… why the sand-filled volleyball?
First, this was not my idea. I was working out the SCVA high performance team and the father of one of my team mates, Lisa Weintraub, told me about this. Second, it is better than a medicine ball because it is the exact same size as a volleyball, with the same touch and feel. Third, while I do use the weighted setter’s balls you can buy they are only a few ounces heavier – and while that helps, my sand-filled volleyball weighs over 17 pounds.
How do you use it?
At night, when you’re laying on your back or sitting watching South Park or The Simpsons, pick up that “dainty” sand ball and start with the ball over your head, both hands on it in a setting position. Don’t set the ball or release the ball because that is dangerous; rather, move your wrists up and down in a setting motion for about 2 minutes never letting the ball leave your fingers. As you grow stronger, you will be able to do this longer.
You may also want to consider filling the ball only one quarter of the way with sand to get started, then as you get stronger, add more sand.
This doesn’t seem to be too much of an exercise, but in my personal experience, I have greatly increased my wrist strength after doing this every other day for about two weeks–I probably added 4 feet to my maximum setting distance in just this short period of time.
The weighted ball helped me not only in setting–I have more top-spin on my hits and am hitting harder than I ever have.
Put Those Old Volleyballs to Use!
All it takes is a few minutes a night with your very own sand ball.
How do you make a sand ball, 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 nice.
2. Cut a 4″ hole in the ball, through both the leather and the inner rubber bladder, and make sure it is large enough to put sand in.
3. Take duct tape and push the tape inside the hole and attach it to the bladder, so the bladder won’t fall and get covered with sand. Then tape the other end of the duct tape to the ball.
4. Bring the ball to the beach or anywhere else you can find sand and start pouring the sand in. I took a paper plate and rolled it into a funnel shape and began pouring cups of sand into the ball.
5. Occasionally, gently bounce the ball to make the sand settle down – keep filling the ball until it is very full.
6. Take those flaps of duct tape that were on the outside of the ball, and tuck them between the leather and the bladder as a sort of a cover. Take more duct tape and force it between the bladder and the leather, taping on TOP of the forced under flaps, to further seal it.
7. Pull the opening tight and push the cut edges together, just like you might when you repair a tear in clothing. Personally, I then took some Gorilla glue and poured that across the area to be “stitched”. I covered the glue with a plastic baggy so I could then take more duct tape and used it to apply tension on either side of the stitching, pulling it taunt across the stitch and on top of the clear plastic. I figured that the plastic would allow me to pull away the duct tape more easily that pulling duct tape from the glue.
8. After it dries, do NOT over do it; the ball is heavy. Start by cupping the ball and just moving your arms. As you get stronger, mover the ball to your fingers, then ultimately start to use your wrists, but only after you are comfortable, this is VERY HEAVY and you don’t want to injure yourself. After a couple of weeks, I was setting the sand ball about 5 feet high to my dad, and he would catch it just a few feet away, then HAND it back to me. It gets tiring. It is hard work, but it makes you very strong.
And remember, hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.