Where Sport Specific Training Goes Wrong

Human Performance Trainer Education

Sport specific training is a phrase often used by sport coaches, parents, athletes, and trainers. Unfortunately, it has become more of a catch phrase than a purposeful statement, used by those often clueless on the actual meaning or implementation.


Sport Specific Training (SST) is well researched, and there are tried and true principles of specificity which create a higher level of transfer (also known as Dynamic Correspondence) from the weight room or training floor to performance in the actual sport. This concept is lost on many trainers, who instead use gimmicky tricks to give the illusion of sport specificity, instead of focusing on the scientific principles which are actual shown to improve performance.


This is the first of two articles aimed at both shedding some light on these ineffective gimmicks and showing what effective sport specific training principles truly are.


Mimicking Sport Movements in the Weight Room

Many athletes, and misinformed trainers, mistakenly assume that adding load to a sporting movement in the weight room will allow you to produce more force, speed, or power for that movement on the sports field. This idea of mimicking sport movements in the weight room became a common misconception 15 years ago, before the science had caught up and proven it to be extremely ineffective. In fact, adding weight to sport-specific movements can be very counter-productive. Doing so can actually cause detrimental changes to motor patterns and reduce the speed with which movements can be executed.
Adding heavy resistance to a high-speed sport movement will change the mechanics of that movement. For example, a baseball swing requires precise timing, muscle sequencing, and motor control to drive the bat down the specific path and make contact with the ball at exactly the right time and angle. Since a typical bat weighs 2lb, adding even a small weight to that movement could triple the weight of the bat. Your body will then need to recruit different muscles or a different sequence of muscle firing to do the work, since the workload has significantly increased. Training this new sequence, motor pathway, and movement mechanics over time will lead to a breakdown in the athlete’s optimal swing.


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