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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 only in my persistence.” –Louis Pasteur
Pasteur is right. For some, persistence is staying on the court longer than anyone else and working harder than the rest of your team. However, let’s be realistic. No one has all the time in the world to exercise a few extra hours a day, and no one has an unlimited supply of energy. So what can one do?
Train more efficiently. But how?
Simple… fill an old volleyball with sand.
One of the most important things in volleyball is wrist strength. Strikers need it to hit the ball, players to set up, passers to handle and blockers to block high balls. Every position needs wrist strength.
So… why sand volleyball?
First, this was not my idea. I was working on SCVA’s high performance team and the father of one of my teammates, Lisa Weintraub, told me about it. Second, it’s better than a medicine ball because it’s the same size as a volleyball, with the same touch and feel. Third, while I use the weighted setter 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 lying on your back or sitting watching South Park or The Simpsons, take that “thin” ball of sand and start with the ball over your head, with both hands on it in a set position. Do not place the ball or drop the ball because this is dangerous; instead, move your wrists up and down in a steady motion for about 2 minutes without letting the ball leave your fingers. As you grow stronger, you will be able to do this for longer.
You may also want to consider filling the ball only a quarter of the way with sand to start, then as you get stronger, add more sand.
This doesn’t seem like much of an exercise, but in my personal experience, I’ve greatly increased my wrist strength after doing this every other day for about two weeks – I’ve probably added 4 feet to my maximum putt distance in just this short period of time.
The weighted ball helped me not only with putting – I have more spin on the ball in my shots and I’m hitting harder than ever.
Use those old volleyballs!
All it takes is a few minutes a night with your sand ball.
How do you make a sand ball, you ask? Follow these steps.
1. Find an old volleyball that you don’t use very often. Check garage sales or eBay if you don’t have an old ball. Do not use a new ball – they are too beautiful.
2. Cut a 4″ hole in the ball, through the skin and inner rubber bladder, and make sure it’s big enough to get sand through.
3. Take duct tape and push the tape inside the hole and stick it to the bladder so that the bladder doesn’t fall off and get covered in sand. Then glue the other end of the tape to the ball.
4. Bring the ball to the beach or anywhere else you can find sand and start pouring the sand. I took a paper plate and rolled it into a funnel shape and started pouring cups of sand into the ball.
5. From time to time, gently bounce the ball to make the sand settle – continue to fill the ball until it is very full.
6. Take those adhesive strips that were on the outside of the ball and place them between the skin and the bladder as a sort of cover. Take more duct tape and squeeze it between the bladder and the skin, sticking on top of the forced flaps, to seal it further.
7. Pull the opening tight and push the cut edges together, just as you might when mending a tear in clothing. Personally, I then took some Gorilla Glue and poured it over the entire area to “stitch”. I covered the glue with a plastic bag so I could get more duct tape afterwards and used it to apply tension to both sides of the seam, pulling it for fun along the seam and over the clear plastic. I found that the plastic would allow me to pull the duct tape off easier than pulling the duct tape off the adhesive.
8. Once dry, DO NOT overdo it; the ball is heavy. Start by closing the ball and just moving your arms. As you get stronger, move the ball to your fingers and eventually start using your wrists, but only after you are comfortable, this is VERY HARD and you don’t want to hurt yourself. After a couple of weeks, I was putting the ball of sand about 5 feet high at my dad, and he would catch it just a few feet away, then hand it to me. It gets tiring. It’s hard work, but it makes you very strong.
And remember, hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.
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