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3 Essential Principles to Developing a Sport-Specific Training Program

Posted: Nov 03 2015

So you’ve done it!  You have committed yourself to setting up a proper home gym to allow you to get the extra edge that you need to succeed as an athlete.  You have taken the steps to make sure to maximize the space that you have available in your residence in order to enable a wide variety of home workouts. Moreover, you have  made a point of identifying what you need and do not need as far as functional fitness equipment is concerned, and started investing accordingly.
 Here is where the really exciting part starts.  You now need to set up a program to help you get on the road to achieving greater fitness and impressive athletic feats.
 So how do you know where to begin?  With the wealth of information about fitness and training that’s out there, it is becoming increasingly harder to separate fact and fiction.  As a result, we need to start out with a little background on functional sport-specific fitness and training.
Now part of the confusion is that what people have traditionally understood to be sport-specific training has simply meant performing activities such as strength training, running, performing wind sprints and if you had time, spending hours of purposeful practice time perfecting various skills involved in your sport of choice.  More often than not in meant spending hours playing your particular sport. The general idea behind off-season (and for that matter, in-season) training was to spend time focusing on improving one’s overall body strength and conditioning
However, as our knowledge of sport-specific training, kinesiology and training periodization has grown, the emphasis has evolved from simply improving one’s all-around conditioning, to incorporating a multi-dimensional approach to sports-specific training.  As a result, more training is being directed towards replicating or mimicking a specific aspect or skill/movement of one’s chosen sport, either within a weight room or fitness center.   The problem with this approach is that it risks becoming over-reliant on simply replicating movements one can reasonably anticipate to make in one’s sport as a way to improve one’s performance.  The simple fact is that swinging a weighted object in place of a baseball bat, for example, will not improve one’s bat speed.  More importantly, it can adversely affect your natural swing mechanics.  After all, you do distort your natural swing by forcing your body to deviate from its regular arc.
That being said,when the approach of replicating sport-specific movements such as these are done in conjunction with becoming stronger, practicing sport specific skills, developing one’s acute audio, visual or sensory capabilities, gaining a better understanding of the nuances of one’s sport and of course, maximizing one’s genetics, it can definitely help put you further on the road to improving your athletic, competitive and fitness-related performance.  This is equally true when it comes to improving one’s strength, just as it would be for improving one’s speed, agility and reflexes.
We now have a greater understanding of some of the key factors involved in terms of developing a good sport-specific training plan.  This will help put competitive athletes in the making such as yourself more on track in terms of achieving better sport or competitive results.  At this point, we want to be able to identify 3 guiding principles that will help you to develop a functional and sport-specific training program tailored to your overall athletic requirements and goals.

1) Implement A Full Body Conditioning Program:  Of utmost importance, is putting in place a safe, efficient and effective full body strength program two times per week, focusing on major muscle groups, as well as improving one’s hand, calves and neck strength.  These muscles are important to emphasize as they help to improving one’s quick twitch or reactionary muscles.  Since most sports require you to read, react and push off quickly, you can understand why they are not to be overlooked.   The emphasis here, as always should be on controlled movements, while progressively improving one’s strength.
 2)  Add Sport-Related Conditioning:  Additional sport conditioning, above and beyond the aforementioned resistance training and sport-related practice should be done twice a week at a maximum.  This type of sport-specific conditioning, should be broken done in a structured manner, so as to avoid burnout, and reduce the risk of injury from continuously doing repetitive high impact movements
3) Become Savvy about Your Particular Sport:  One thing that’s incredibly underrated when it comes to improving one’s overall athletic performance is becoming a student of your sport/event, regardless of what it is.  Watch athletes of all levels in order to learn and anticipate as many sport-specific situations as possible, so that you can become better prepared to handle the stress of particular competitive moments.  Seeing real-life sport situations unfold helps greatly improve your auditory, visual and sensory sharpness, thereby enabling faster reaction times
Now that we have identified some keys to getting you started on created a sport-specific training plan from home, you now have what you need to help you create a training plan for your sport or competitive activity of choice. 

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