When thinking sport specific training, you have to evaluate the sport and question the movements within the sport. There are a variety of ways that one might break down the sport and they are most often based on which training style that coach is most familiar with. The coach’s perspective of the sport is vital because it is the groundwork, the focus, of the entire athletic performance training program.
Before I get in to how I breakdown a sport, let’s first debunk the biggest mistake I see made in our modern ear technocratic society.
Do not focus on recreating specific movement patterns performed in the sport, leave it to the sport.
Instead, choose to analyze how the muscles work within the sport and train them to be prepared for those movements. For example, a wide receiver running a “go” route needs to spend time in training hitting heavy RDL’s; doing high velocity Prime Times or Bounding drills; and doing competition sprints against teammates who are around his speed capabilities.
This concept of movement patterns links directly to point 2 and 3 of how I breakdown a sport, which I will cover now…
1. Is the sport classified as a loaded or unloaded sport? For this question I determine load vs unloaded based on the following:
- Amount of change of directions
- Contact during the sport
Once I determine the classification it sets me up in line of programming and percentages of 1 rep maxes (1RM) that I need to work in.
2. What joints are the most susceptible to load and impact? Nearly all sports have commonalities in which joints are most susceptible to injury. However, there are normally differences in how those joints are loaded. Analyze the sport specific movements and muscle activations of the sport
3. What muscle groups are used mainly? How are those muscle groups used? This point falls in line with point #2 but determines the specific muscle actions that each muscle group requires during the sport.
4. What kind thresholds needs to be met? Threshold for this purpose is referring to metabolic requirements of the sport. Basically, if the sport requires repeated burst of high intensity, do not make them a long-distance runner!
5. Categorize the energy systems… this point is a building block from point #4. The simplest way to categorize this is by analyzing the sport by anaerobic, aerobic or a combination. As you break that down analyze the importance of each system during specific times while playing the sport.
6. Performance Enhancement results from… simplification… there is a misconception that we need to include 5000 exercise variations in a program when in fact that is the wrong thing to do. Instead, choose a select number of movements that you deme vital to master and build progressions / digressions from those movements. Once I go through points 1-5 I then determine how I program, what exercises I choose, etc…
There are various ways to program and train for sports. I always recommend to train the athlete first and the sport second but I hope these 6 strategies on sport specific training are helpful to everyone who takes the time to read / analyze them.