Fitness for Roundnet – Using HIIT to improve performance

Like all sporting athletes who want to improve performance, we have to look outside of the game.

by Rebecca Warke

Playing games is of course paramount to gaining skill and improving tactical awareness, among many other benefits. Although as we see in many other sports, to improve our game we need to conduct other supplementary activities for many different reasons, such as:

HIIT training has been shown to have some major health and fitness benefits.
  1. Not playing every day, I mean I wish we could, but due to the current level of development with roundnet in this country, finding players to play every day or even consistently can be a task in itself. So out of necessity we need to train and gain touches elsewhere.
  2. Moreover, playing games can only get you so far. You need to look after your body, condition it and prepare it for the strain of game play and competition. Without conditioning we are more likely to reach a level of play and plateau any further improvement, or worse, injure ourselves and be out of competition. The game requires repetitive movements (like other sports do) that can create excess strain on tendons and muscles. Without good muscular function or balance within the muscles, we are significantly more likely to incur an injury, and less likely to reach our full potential.
  3. Improving aerobic, but more so the anaerobic energy systems within the body will help us become faster and play for longer, which HIIT has been found to do (Il go into much more detail later and tell you why it’s so relevant to roundnet).
  4. Further engagement. I imagine if you’re reading this, you’re already a roundnet enthusiast, so engagement is probably not a huge issue for you. It’s more likely to be the engagement in the fitness side that’s inclined to be the issue, which has probably been compounded by lockdown rules (this is being written in the mists of pandemic lockdown by the way, which was one of the reasons for the article, but I digress). Exercising or training in a variety of ways negates boredom or even burnout, so finding different ways to keep that training going and keep your body guessing is key.


So, now you see why supplementing your games with training is important, lets touch upon conditioning. This article is about using HIIT in particular, which is a type of metabolic conditioning. The body weight movements we are suggesting are to better your performance for a whole host of reasons (strengthening supporting muscles, even out muscle imbalances, increase mobility, correct posture, stabilize joints, learn new movement patterns, enhance coordination and peripheral skills) to name a few, but we wouldn’t suggest only HIIT to do this. Resistance training is also a great training format that helps to enhance your body and performance, but we will save that for the next article.


HIIT training has been shown to have some major health and fitness benefits. It can increase your maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max), meaning you are more likely to chase those long balls for the whole tournament. As well as also increasing anaerobic fitness (which recruits more fast-twitch muscle fibres), which is again key to roundnet. The game of roundnet is fast, consisting of short bursts, with many powerful movements, shorts sprints and changes in direction. The more fast-twitch fibres you have, the greater the ability of your muscles to produce these powerful movements. 

The advantage of HIIT training is that it can simulate these short, fast, powerful movements, whilst allowing us to manipulate the session to work with your fitness level, as well as mimic the game. We do that by adapting the duration, work:rest ratio, types of movements and/or muscles used. All the while integrating touches on the ball. 

Touches on the ball, as many athletes over time have stated, is key! 

We want to take all we know about improving power, strengthening muscles, and getting touches on the ball to create plans that can improve your health, fitness and of course, performance. 

Moreover, HIIT is a helpful tool in training for many reasons; due to it being short in duration, it is easy to fit into the working day; it is relatively driven by bodyweight exercises, meaning it’s accessible and can be completed at home or pretty much anywhere (very helpful during lockdown or other periods where exercising alone/without kit is required); and lastly, it is effective for all fitness levels. It is so easily scaled, that no matter where you are on your fitness journey, HIIT can be adapted to work for your current level of fitness/balance/ability. Now I’m not saying there aren’t possible downsides to HIIT training, but we will get to those later.

OK, so let’s break this down a little further and give some examples using what many people know as the FITT principle (except I’m going to do it as ITTF, as I think it works better for the order of understanding in this instance).

  • I-Intensity. HIIT must be fast and hard!
  • T-Time. Duration here is also key to reflect the demands of the game.
  • T-Type. As previously stated, we can scale the exercises to fit our current ability or fitness level.
  • F-Frequency. Lastly, we come to the big question of “how often should I do this?”
Below are a few example exercises, which you can see in action on our Instagram, under “Fitness for Roundnet”.

There are a range of exercises that are progressive, some involving a ball, and many involving movements linked to agility (which we will also talk more about in another article). So, take a look and progress yourself as you see fit. Some example sessions are also on our social media for you to trial.

You can see from the exercises that there is a range, so that you can mix up sessions to include;

  • Different impact levels
  • Co-ordination
  • Agility
  • Touches on the ball
  • Different muscle groups
  • Concentration on form
  • Accuracy
An example session might look like...

I feel it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), make sure you warm up, involving all the major muscles involved in the session, as well as cool and down stretch post session.

There are some good warm up routines and videos out there already if you’re not sure what to include, but I’m sure we will share one of our warm-up sessions on instagram soon.

Now remember, if you have a pre-existing injury, HIIT or these particular exercises may not be ideal for you, so seek assistance with your injury from a physiotherapist before embarking upon any of these exercises.

In future we will look at resistance training/functional training for roundnet, pre-hab, agility training and speed, agility and quickness (SAQ) training.

For all videos on fitness for roundnet, teaching in schools, research and highlight videos of course, check out our instagram page @Zero_Bounds.