What is Sport Specific training?
There is no such thing as sport specific training, in the gym. However, sport specific training is the training that you do on the field, on the court, in the pool, on the track. It’s the physical and specific training for your sport. It’s what your sports coach would plan and take you through, it’s a typical sports training session. You have to be careful not to be confused with developing sport specific qualities in the gym and actual sports training. What we’re trying to do in the gym environment is select exercises with the best carry-over to the field or the court. A better way put – how do exercises transfer to your sport. This may mean that there are multiple exercises or many exercises that can do the same thing for many different athletes in many different sports.
The 80/20 rule
80% of the time the exercises and the movements are going to be similar across all sports. For example, a trapbar deadlift, is a great way to strengthen the lower body, lower back, hamstrings, glutes, and it carries over to many different sports. You wouldn’t not do it with an athlete just because they did a different sport. The 20% is made up of exercises that help prevent the specific injuries that a sport might have a higher risk of. For example, if you’re playing an overhead throwing sport like water polo, cricket and baseball (where you’re doing a lot of throwing and overhead movements), you might need to add in some rotator cuff strengthening work. This might be more so than another sport like rugby where you’re not doing as much overhead stuff, you might still do some rotator cuff stuff, but it might not be as necessary or you might pick other exercises to strengthen or stabilize the shoulder girdle.
The Generalist vs The Specialist
There’s a great book called Range by David Epstein, he’s a great author, he’s got another book called The Sports Gene. In Range he has this idea of generalists living in a specialized world and how they can actually succeed and dominate in that world. What this may mean for an athlete is you’re better off being generally physically prepared (GPP), i.e. strong across as many domains as possible to then compete in your specialized sport. The importance behind this is that sport is not rigid, (Golf might be the exception here), you could easily say that no one game of AFL, rugby, soccer or basketball is exactly the same. Certain things might repeat, although most the games are super volatile and so many different things can happen. Therefore, it’s great when you’ve practiced things and you can repeat those situations (that’s the majority of training) but there’s gonna be times when things go wrong and something new and unexpected is gonna be thrown at you. This is where being a generalist is actually really important, because they have broad repertoires that allow them to adapt to many situations as opposed to being too narrow and specialized. When you become too narrow focused in one area and you can really only handle the situations that you’ve experienced. Being a generalist allows you to potentially handle those unforeseen circumstances a lot better than if you just specialized in one area.