Weight room discipline benefits Doris on the court
Nov. 26, 2010
Jennifer Doris has a problem most people would find a blessing.
“I have to bring food to class,” Doris laments.
Yes, that’s Doris in the third row of a lecture hall, munching on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the middle of the morning. Such is life for the towering senior middle blocker from Houston -- in order to maintain muscle mass, Doris has to take in 6,000 calories a day.
“To keep my weight up, I have to eat and lift, eat and lift,” Doris says.
Doris eats two dinners every night, never skips dessert and adds ice cream to protein shakes. That’s the easy part; she’s also disciplined in the weight room. When some of her teammates go in on Sundays for voluntary cardio, Doris goes in for voluntary lifting.
“With her frame, being able to keep muscle mass on has been the challenge for her. She’s taken it upon herself to do extra lifting and conditioning, which has allowed her to maintain during the year,” head coach Jerritt Elliott says. “When you have an athlete that fit, if she’s not continually lifting, you can lose a lot of muscle mass.”
For the past two seasons, strength coach Donnie Maib has structured a specific lifting program for Doris. Most of her work is done on the power platforms with a focus on complete body strength.
“If I just do dumbbells, I lose weight,” Doris says.
Maib has Doris on a plan that is heavy on hang cleans, lat pull downs and bench work. The whole team lifts on Mondays and Thursdays, and Doris adds her extra session on Sundays. She and Maib have to be creative with their plan so that Doris isn’t repeating exercises during the week.
“She’s the one who came to us about this. She knows she plays totally different when she keeps her strength up,” Maib says. “She’ so tall and lanky, she doesn’t need cardio. The weight just melts off of her. During the season, we focus on keeping pressure off her back, and putting her in positions she plays from. She doesn’t go real deep when she’s on the floor, so it doesn’t benefit her to go all the way to the floor with weights.”
Finally, Doris says after four years, she’s starting to see legitimate muscle definition. But more importantly, she’s feeling her strength during matches. Upper body strength allows her to swing with more force, and a strong trunk gives her vertical power.
This season, Doris is averaging 1.73 kills per set while hitting .424 for the year -- both marks are career bests for Doris. Her hitting percentage ranks No. 4 nationally.
“She’s really picked up her game, worked hard at it and matured a lot,” Elliott says. “When your seniors are able to step up like that, it allows your team to play at a really high level. She’s done everything she’s needed to do, and she has a different confidence level than she’s ever had. It’s a great one-two punch with her and Rachael (Adams) in the middle.”