Movement Analysis of a Volleyball Block

In this paper I will describe the head to toe mechanics of what a normal, athletic volleyball block consists of. This movement may seem simple when watching a player perform it on the court; however it is a very complex muscular movement. There will be three phases I will explain in this movement. First the athletic position or “start phase”, next the jumping motion or “active phase” and finally will be the landing known as the “ending phase”. I will be describing every motion, as well as what plane the muscles are moving in and whether the movement is isometric, concentric or eccentric.

Starting in athletic position, or the ‘start phase’, ankles are slightly dorsiflexed, knees flexed slightly, hips are flexed, and both the lumbar and cervical spine are extended. Shoulders are abducted at a ninety degree angle, and the shoulder girdle has slight upward rotation; the radioulnar joint is pronated, while the wrist and fingers are extended. All motions in the first phase are done bilaterally. While in the first phase, the great toe and lesser toes are both in the flexed position. The flexor hallucis longus is isometrically contracting the great toe while the flexor digitorium longus isometrically contracts the lesser toes.

The muscles performing dorsiflexion in the ankle are the antagonist muscles including the gastrocnemius and soleus. This is an isometric movement in the sagittal plane. (Floyd 303) The knee is slightly flexed at about a thirty degree angle. The primary muscles used for this movement are the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. This constant movement is also an isometric contraction performed by the antagonist muscle group in the sagittal plane. (Floyd 278) The hip is flexed and the biceps femoris, semitendinosis, semimembranosis, and the gluteus maximus isometrically contracting.

Both, the lumbar and cervical spine are held in anatomical position mainly by the erector spinae. (Prentice 734) The shoulder is abducted at ninety degrees, and held isometrically by the deltoid, supraspinatus, and upper pectoralis major. The shoulder girdle is also being upwardly rotated by the middle trapezius, lower trapezius, and serratus anterior. This movement is an isometric contraction. (Floyd 94) The elbow is also at ninety degrees much like the shoulder however it is being flexed using the biceps brachii, brachioradialis, and brachialis.

The radioulnar joint is pronated using the brachioradialis, pronator teres, and pronator quadratus. This movement happens isometrically in the transverse plane. (Floyd 150) The primary muscles that keep the wrist extended are the extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis, extensor pollicis longus, extensor digiti minimi, extensor indicis, extensor digitorum, and the extensor carpi ulnaris. The fingers are also being extended mainly by the extensor pollicis brevis, extensor pollicis longus, extensor digiti minimi, extensor indicis, and the extensor digitorum. Floyd 172) In the second phase also known as the ‘active phase’, the toes are flexed, the ankles go into plantarflexion, knee extends, hip flexes, the spine stays extended, shoulder is abducted even more as well as the shoulder girdle being elevated and upwardly rotated, the elbow goes to total extension, radioulnar joint remains pronated, and the wrist and fingers stay extended. All movements in this phase also occur bilaterally. (Netter168) The great toe and lesser toes are moving by a concentric contraction flexing them by using the flexor hallucis longus for the great toe and flexor digitorium longus for the lesser toes.

The ankle is plantarflexed using primarily the gastrocnemius, and soleus. This motion is concentric in the sagittal plane because the muscles are being shortened while contracting. The knee moves concentrically into extension. The agonist muscles in this action are the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and the vastus intermedius. (Floyd 278) The hip moves into extension primarily by the rectus femoris, pectineus, illiacus, psoas major and psoas minor. This is an eccentric movement because as the motion is occurring the muscle is lengthening.

Both the lumbar and cervical spine remain extended by the isometric movement by the erector spinae seeing as the joint angle does not change. The shoulder goes into full abduction eccentrically with primary movers including the lower pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, and teres major. The shoulder girdle also goes into elevation using the levator scapula, upper trapezius, middle trapezius, and rhomboid. This movement in the frontal plane is concentric contraction because as the contraction is occurring the muscles are shortening.

The final movement of the shoulder girdle in this stage is upward rotation. (Netter 410) The agonist muscles that concentrically control this movement are the middle trapezius, lower trapezius, and serratus anterior. The elbow goes into total extension using primarily the triceps brachii. This is a concentric movement seeing as how the muscle is being shortened as it is contracting. (Floyd 150) The radioulnar joint stays pronated still by use of the brachioradialis, pronator teres, and pronator quadrates. This remains an isometric contraction, because no angle in the joints changes.

The wrist stays in extention isometrically by the contractions of the agonist muscles the extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis, extensor pollicis longus, extensor digiti minimi, extensor indicis, extensor digitorum, and the extensor carpi ulnaris. (Netter 429) The fingers remain extended by the extensor pollicis brevis, extensor pollicis longus, extensor digiti minimi, extensor indicis, and the extensor digitorum. This remains an isometric movement because joint angles remain constant. The final step is landing and returning the body very similar to the starting position.

Toes remain flexed, ankle dorsiflexes, the knee flexes and the hip flexes as well, the spine stays extended, the shoulder is adducted, the shoulder girdle depresses and is downwardly rotated, the elbow is extended while radioulnar joint stays pronated, and the wrist and fingers stay extended with slightly more laxity in them. The toes have a slight eccentric contraction as they relax and extend back to their starting positions using the flexor hallucis longus for the great toe and the flexor digitorium longus for the lesser toes. The ankle dorsiflexes eccentrically, using primarily the gastrocnemius and soleus.

The knee flexes using the antagonist muscles including the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius. This is an eccentric contraction because the muscles are shortening as they contract. The hip goes back into flexion using the biceps femoris, semitendinosis, semimembranosis, and gluteus maximus. This is an eccentric contraction because the muscles lengthen as they contract. The lumbar and cervical spine are isometricly held into extension using the erector spinae muscle because the angle in the joint remains constant throughout the entire motion. Floyd 336) The shoulder is adducted downward using the deltoid, supraspinatus, and upper pectoralis major. This is an eccentric movment because the muscles lengthen as they are contracted. The shoulder girdle also uses the lower trapezius and pectoralis minor in eccentric depression. The shoulder girdle is downwardly rotated concentrically by using primarily the middle trapezius, lower trapezius and serratus anterior. (Prentice 649) The elbow extends using the triceps brachii in an eccentric contraction. The radioulnar joint remains supinated still using the brachioradialis, pronator teres, and pronator quadrates in isometric contraction.

The wrist also remains extended primarialy by use of the extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis, extensor pollicis longus, extensor digiti minimi, extensor indicis, extensor digitorum, and the extensor carpi ulnaris. This motion since the wrist has not changed angles is known as isometric contraction. Finally the fingers stay extended by use of the extensor pollicis brevis, extensor pollicis longus, extensor digiti minimi, extensor indicis, and the extensor digitorum. This movment is also isometric, since the joint angles have remained constant.

The volleyball block, though seeming very simple when watched, is a very complex movement. It contains many muscle groups and actions. There are contractions happening in all planes of motion. There are also isometric, eccentric, and concentric contractions happening throughout the entire movement. Bibliography Floyd, R. T, Manual of Structure Kinesiology; copyright 2007. Boston Burr Ridge, IL; McGraw-Hill. Netter, Frank H. , Atlas of Human Anatomy Fifth Edition; 2011. Philadelphia, PA; Saunders Elsvier. Prentice, William E. , Principals of Athletic Training; copyright 2011. New York, NY;McGraw-Hill.

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