“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” –Louis Pasteur

Pasteur is right. For some, tenacity is staying on the field longer than everyone else and working harder than the rest of the 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?

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 catch the ball, setters to set, passers to go over the head and blockers to block high balls. Every position needs wrist strength.

So…why volleyball filled with sand?

First, this was not my idea. I was training on the SCVA high performance team and the father of one of my teammates, Lisa Weintraub, told me about this. Second, it’s better than a medicine ball because it’s 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 are only a few ounces heavier, and while that helps, my sand-filled volleyball is over 17 pounds.

How do you use it?

At night, when you’re lying on your back or sitting up watching South Park or The Simpsons, pick up that “delicate” ball of sand and start with the ball above your head, with both hands in a snug position. Do not place the ball or drop the ball because that is dangerous; rather, move your wrists up and down in a snapping motion for about 2 minutes without letting the ball slip away from your fingers. As you get stronger, you will be able to do this longer.

You might also consider filling the ball with sand only a quarter of the way to start, then as it gets stronger add more sand.

This doesn’t sound like much of an 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 max setting distance in just this short amount of time.

The weighted ball helped me not only in the adjustment: I have more upper spin on my shots and I am hitting harder than ever.

Put those old volleyballs to use!

All you need is a few minutes a night with your own sandball.

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. Cut a 4″ hole in the ball, through both the leather and the inner rubber chamber, and make sure it’s big enough to put sand in.

3. Take adhesive tape and push it into the hole and stick it to the bladder, so that the bladder does not fall out and get covered with sand. Then stick the other end of the tape to the ball.

4. Take the ball to the beach or any other place where you can find sand and start pouring the sand. I took a paper plate and rolled it up into a funnel shape and started pouring cups of sand into the ball.

5. Occasionally bounce the ball gently to let the sand settle; keep filling the ball until it is very full.

6. Take the 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 cover. Take more duct tape and place it between the bladder and the leather, taping on the TOP of the forced bottom flaps, to further seal it.

7. Pinch the opening tight and bring the cut edges together, just as you would when repairing a tear in clothing. Personally, I took some Gorilla glue and poured it over the area to be “stitched”. I covered the glue with a plastic bag so I could get more duct tape and used it to apply tension to each side of the seam, pulling it along the stitch and onto the clear plastic. I thought the plastic would allow me to remove the duct tape easier than getting the duct tape out of the glue.

8. After it dries, DO NOT overdo it; the ball is heavy. Start by cupping the ball and simply moving 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 putting the sand ball about 5 feet up on my dad, and he would catch it a few feet away and then TURN it back to me. It goes off. It’s hard work, but it makes you very strong.

And remember, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

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