Sports Specific Training

Sport-specific training has recently received a lot of attention from the media as it is currently being incorporated into training programs for many A-list celebrities and high-level athletes. Gone are the days where athletes solely use methods such as distance running, wind sprints, high-resistance strength training using barbells and machines. These days, athletes like Tim Tebow and Lebron James incorporate core exercise & stability balls, agility drills, moving tires, medicine balls, performing motions which specifically mimic their activities (e.g. throwing, passing,..etc), resistance bands and balance exercises.

The idea here is that instead of simply becoming stronger on a bench press or becoming a faster sprinter, athletes will duplicate the specific activity of their sport during their gym workout, while simultaneously working with an educated trainer and/or physical therapist to fix any imbalances or weak points that they’ve developed over time. What we’re actually looking to measure now isn’t just raw strength or speed- we’re looking for is a transfer of that exercise to improved performance and results on the field.

This can present itself in adjusting parameters such as lifting a weight quickly to develop speed or incorporating plyometrics for explosiveness (power). But what it also means is incorporating entirely new exercises such as stretching for the hip flexors, performing box squats with bands, or depth jumps to improve an athlete’s vertical leap, for example.

Sports-specific training also means perfecting the motor patterns and actual technical skill required on the field. This may mean working with a coach or physical therapist to perfect your body mechanics during a golf swing or a serve in tennis for example. It’s not about just going through the motions, but rather performing those motions correctly to plug any biomechanical “torque leaks” or prevent future injuries. The old adage “practice makes perfect” is a bit short-sighted in this respect. It should be that “perfect practice makes perfect.”

By Paul Mostoff, DPT

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