In the "image is everything" world of tennis, hitting the weights instead of fuzzy balls may seem uncouth, especially if you're afraid of looking heavy in your skirt or shorts. However, for those who can physically and mentally hack it, developing lean muscle for speed and power is a big advantage. Katrin Koch, University of Georgia director of strength and conditioning for Olympic sports, offers makeover tips for interested racket rebels.
"Tennis is a ground-based sport," says Koch, "so leg strength is a key factor for lateral movement, sprints or change-of-direction movement."
To increase power below the elastic waistband, Koch, who helped the Bulldogs to back-to-back National Titles in '07 and '08, fashions a workout with single-leg exercises. "At UGA, we perform a multitude of plyometric drills such as lunges, step-ups, split jumps, and hurdle jumps," she says.
To recruit speed on the court, the squad performs Hurdle Jumps year-round.
Setup: Line up four or five 33" high track hurdles a foot apart
Note: If unable to perform full body-weight squat, substitute mini hurdles for track hurdles
Starting at first hurdle, jump with feet together over hurdle
Make contact with ground, gather body control and cock arms back for next jump
Coaching Points: Bring knees up as high as possible // Pull toes up while going over hurdles // Avoid kicking heel up // Focus on using proper arm-swing mechanics
Benefits: Enhances agility and lower body explosiveness // Develops lean muscle // Increases strength in glutes, hamstrings and quads
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock