What is Sport Specific Training?

Performance & Sport

There seems to be some confusion in the sport world about what exactly sport specific training is and what it involves. So, let’s clear things up. Sport specific training is a fitness training program designed specifically for athletic performance enhancement in the athlete’s specific sport. There is no guideline for what exactly this training program looks like or what it must include.

The central factor is that the goal of the training program is to improve performance in a specific sport. The technical aspects of the program will differ for each athlete as it depends on their sport and position, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

There is an important difference to note between sport specific skills and sport specific performance enhancement. Sport specific skills, for example, would be shooting a basketball, while sport specific performance enhancement would involve foot speed, strength, and power.

Should You Be Incorporating Sport Specific Training?

The next most common question is surrounding the effectiveness of sport specific training. Are these methods effective at helping you to improve in your sport? And should you be sport specific training?

Let’s start this off by saying that the most sport specific training that can be done is in the sport itself. If you want to get better at skating, you must skate. However, there are also several ways that you can improve your athletic ability, in relation to your specific sport and position, within the gym.

The four main areas in a training program that can help you improve your athletic ability are:

  1. Strength and power
  2. The appropriate energy system for your sport and position
  3. Recovery
  4. Injury prevention

Injury prevention is a major reason why you should be incorporating sport specific training into your program. There are many studies out there about the most common injuries for athletes based on sport and position. So, you should understand what injuries you need to work to prevent. You can add training into your program to strengthen areas that can help prevent those specific injuries.

For example, in some sports, ankles, knees, and hips are the most commonly injured. So, in your sport specific training, you could practice bending and absorbing the shock these joints sustain during sport.

While general training is great for overall fitness. It does not address the specific needs of athletes participating in sports to reduce injuries. Therefore, sport specific training is essential.

How to Design a Sport Specific Training Program

The best place to start when designing a sport specific training program is by determining the basic qualities that your sport and position demands. Think about the types of contractions involved in the sport’s movements. Consider what energy systems are used. Is there running, jumping, lunging, rotational movement, single-legged, or double? You should have a comprehensive understanding of the movements involved in your sport and in your specific position. Choose weights and plyometrics that are functional to these movements.

Next, we recommend assessing your current fitness abilities in relation to the items above. Determine which areas need improvement and which areas might only need maintenance. Design a program with a focus on improving the areas that are lacking and maintaining the areas that you are excelling in.

When designing a program, you must keep all these items in mind. Also, consider that almost all athletes require explosive power, muscular endurance, and maximal strength. You can train for explosive strength, for example, by adding a sport specific action, such as sprinting or jumping, directly after a lift. For example, you could perform power cleans, followed by hurdle jumps.

Finally, in order to excel in your sport, we recommend not only sport specific performance enhancement training, but also sport specific skill training. If you want to improve your performance, you must practice your sport. But use your time in the gym to work towards improving your overall athletic performance and training the areas specifically related to your sport.