My strength and conditioning coach in a Division I beach volleyball program once told me that "the body is only as strong as its weakest link." I think he is completely right but I did not really realize it until my daily routine consisted of training only the obvious muscles. You know which ones I am talking about: the ones that stand out while you look in the mirror. I did not train the weak links in my body during my daily routine; the little but significant muscles that mean the difference between winning and losing. For instance, I thought I trained my shoulder muscles by performing overhead presses, bench press, push-ups, sometimes pull-ups, dumbbell raises, and that is pretty much it. I was sure my shoulder is well prepared for everything but I was wrong.

When my shoulder was bothering me, a friend, who happened to be a physical therapist, asked me if I strengthen my rotator cuffs. Since I was not aware of what a rotator cuff is, I figured I was not strengthening it. I learned that the rotator cuff muscles are a group of muscles that stabilize the shoulder. They include the supraspinatus muscle, the infraspinatus muscle, the teres minor muscle and the subscapularis muscle. Those muscles are very crucial to volleyball players, tennis players, swimmers, baseball players, and athletes who throw. 

As soon as I learned about the importance of this tiny but mighty group of muscles stabilizing the shoulder, I began to strengthen them to prevent future injuries. One of the exercises I do is a side-lying external rotation. It is a very easy exercise that can be done pretty much anywhere. All you need is a light dumbbell.  Internal rotation is the opposite of external rotation and involves rotating the hand toward the body. High to low rows are my go to exercise before a training session or a match. I do them very regularly. I just have to attach a resistance band to something sturdy at or above shoulder height and I am ready for a very effective warm up.

Adding a few exercises to my training regimen gave my body a chance to remain healthy, balanced, and most importantly, training some of the weakest parts of my body provided me with an advantage over my competition.