We hear it all the time that athletes should train in a “sport-specific” way. They should perform exercises that are similar to the movements they perform in the practice of their sport, and training programs for different sports should be totally different. I flat out disagree.
We always see athletes performing these fancy exercises in the gym that reproduce the same movement patterns that they perform in playing situations.
This kind of practice is FAR from optimal for a couple of different reasons: first, when you load a movement pattern, you affect the efficiency of it (for example, if you perform an exercise similar to a slap shot with a load, you’ll actually affect your original slap shot pattern, and you’ll be less efficient at performing it on the ice). Second, the more you stress the same structures the exact same way over and over, it will lead to overuse injuries a lot faster. But I digress.
Let’s take a step back for a minute, and consider what every athlete needs. I think it’s fair to say that what any athlete is looking for is speed, power, strength, endurance (relative to their sport, obviously) and a better level of conditioning (again, relative to their sport).
The hang clean will develop power for ANY sport!
Basically, all athletes are looking for the same thing. So why would their training be that different? You’re going to tell me that conditioning demands are different for a football player than they are for a hockey player. And you’re right. Conditioning demands are different, and the energy systems used are different. And the same thing goes for injury prevention; the overuse and non-contact injuries that happen in different sports are different, so therefore require special injury prevention strategies adapted to the demands of their specific sport. There are also variations that are gonna take place if you play a rotational sport (think hockey, baseball, tennis) in the way you train power. But the biggest differences pretty much stop there.
Rotational sports require more rotation-based power exercises like med ball throws
Strength training will never be “specific” to a sport. Like I mentioned above, performing exercises similar to sport movements in the weight room is far from optimal, and even detrimental to athlete’s performance. Speed, power, strength, endurance and conditioning are all developed through the same modalities (or pretty much) no matter what sport you play, because what you are developing when you’re training is not your sport-related skills, but rather your athletic qualities (muscular and cardiovascular), and those are not specific to one single sport, but common to most sports.
Like I’ve mentioned earlier, there are going to be some minor tweaks in the way you write performance programs for different sports, especially when it comes to conditioning and injury prevention, but the big lines and the structure of the programs might be a lot more similar than you think.
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