Get ready to play beach volleyball

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Beach volleyball is my favorite sport. The sun, the sand and the intensity of the activity makes for an exhilarating sport.

As a volleyball athlete, you need jumping strength, upper-body power to spike and serve and agility to cover the court.

Try these exercises a few times per week, one to two months before you hit the court, and you'll be amazed at how much your entire game improves.

• Floor slams: Start by standing upright and holding a medicine ball over your head. Keep your abdominals contracted throughout the entire exercise while you throw the ball to the floor. Catch the ball as it bounces up and quickly return to the starting position and repeat the exercise. Continue for 30-90 seconds.

• Tuck jumps: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides. Quickly bend your knees and sit back into a squatting position, then quickly explode off the ground, jumping as high as you can. Try to bring your knees toward your chest as you jump. As soon as your feet return to the ground, repeat another jump. Work up to three to five sets of six to 10 repetitions. If the force of the impact is a little too high for your body, try this exercise on a dirt path or sand.

• Crunches + overhead press + leg lift: Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees almost straight. Tuck your chin in slightly, focusing your eyes at a 45 degree angle -- avoid looking right up at the ceiling or directly at the opposite wall -- to keep your neck in a neutral position. Place your arms extended over your head so they are resting on the floor behind you. Slowly curl up to a comfortable position and then slowly return to the starting position -- make sure that your rib cage moves forward toward your hips. As you curl up, lift one leg off the floor and both arms up and forward. Keep your abdominals contracted throughout the entire exercise. Repeat 10 repetitions for each leg. To intensify this exercise, you can hold a weighted medicine ball and/or lift both legs at the same time.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc., is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She can be reached at nwPersonalTraining.com or ShapeupwithSherri.com.