by Elizabeth Kwon, SPT

There are a variety of recovery methods used to enhance the performance of athletes; however, the specific techniques and dosage are debated among various individual sports and athletes. Volleyball is an intermittent sport requiring bursts of high intensity movements during gameplay and with often little recovery time in between matches. While there is limited evidence on recovery techniques specific for volleyball players, several methods are discussed including the following:


  • Nutrition for athletes requires a higher caloric intake, proper carbohydrate and protein intake, and sufficient nutrients and hydration
  • Overall, female volleyball players tend to consume less than the recommended caloric intake per day as well as proper levels of protein, fiber, iron, carbohydrates, iron, and calcium
  • Current recommendations may lack sex-specificity.
    • Female volleyball players were able to improve their power, speed, and body composition despite maintaining a lower caloric intake than recommended
    • Female volleyball players require less carbohydrates compared to the recommended dosage suggesting that they may be less reliant on glycogen during exercise and less responsive to glycogen synthesis during recovery
    • Female volleyball players consumed more protein on average than the recommended amount
  • It is recommended that volleyball players maintain an increased carbohydrate to protein ratio to facilitate muscle recovery rather than a direct focus on the absolute amount of consumed protein
  • Antioxidant supplementation shows promise in enhanced antioxidant defense against free radicals during periods of intense training
  • Proper hydration prior to a match is important to improve performance and recovery
    • In a study of beach volleyball athletes, players lost an average of 1.4 L of sweat during a match.


  • It is recommended for athletes to obtain 7-9 hours of sleep with upwards of 10-12 hours for athletes who are adolescents or train 4-6 hours per day
  • Lack of sleep led to a depletion of energy and decreased time to exhaustion during exercise, and athletes with higher levels of insomnia were associated with decreased performance
  • Quality of sleep is also important in athletes, where those with greater sleep quality and won their games exhibited decreased stress levels and lower levels of confusion in comparison to those with lower sleep quality

Mental and psychological techniques:

  • Athletes who have a decreased amount of perceived recovery time are at a higher risk for injury
  • Spending time with friends, team building activities, and amusement are associated with promoting recovery and preventing injury
  • In a study of 11 female intercollegiate volleyball players, a program focusing on cognitive behavioral skills demonstrated that increased use of imagery and using a routine increased serving performance
  • High levels of anxiety and stress may lead to impaired performance, yet few athletes utilize mental or emotional recovery techniques

Cold water immersion (CWT) and Laser therapy (LLLT):

  • Limited evidence is available for CWT and LLLT for athletes, and there is no consensus on the effectiveness or dosage for either recovery technique.
  • CWT is suggested to improve submaximal muscle function in comparison to active recovery and suppress post-exercise levels of creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)
  • LLLT is suggested to reduce post-exercise CK levels and other inflammatory markers of muscle damage; however, the research is limited by some of the studies using rat models as well as there being mixed results among studies.

Overall, current nutrition recommendations for female athletes lack sex specificity, and athletes may benefit more from maintaining a high carbohydrate to protein ratio rather than using absolute numbers. Supplementation using antioxidants may be beneficial in improved recovery among athletes. It is important to maintain an adequate amount of sleep as well as quality of sleep to improve performance levels. In terms of mental and psychological techniques, routines involving imagery for closed activities, like serving, and managing anxiety and stress levels may improve performance. It is essential to educate athletes on recovery time as perceived recovery time is a risk factor for injury, and likewise, it may be beneficial to encourage activities, such as team bonding and spending time with friends to decrease risk of injury and improve recovery. At Physical Therapy First, your physical therapist can provide you with protocols for proper warm-up and cool down activities as well as discuss the factors listed above with you to maximize your recovery, decrease your risk of injury, and improve your performance.


Closs, Brian. Burkett, Connor. Trojan, Jeffrey D. Brown, Symone M., Mulcahey, Mary K. “Recovery after volleyball: a narrative review.” The Physician and Sportsmedicine, Volume 48, Number 1: 8-16, (2020).