What is a Sport Specific Training Plan?

Author: Matt K Training | | Categories: Athletic Performance Coaching , Cardio Training , Certified Personal Trainer , Holistic Nutrition Coaching , Nutrition Coach , Nutrition Coaching , Nutritionist , Online Personal Fitness Trainer , Online Personal Training , Personal Training , Strength Training , Weight Loss Coaching , Wellness Coaching

Its spring, outdoor sports season is near (here in New England that is, where we have been buried in snow). There is still time to get into a sport-specific training routine to prepare for that mid-May tournament, road race, or season opener. How are you preparing yourself for the upcoming season? Are you following a sport-specific training plan? Should you? (Yes, you should, read on).

A sport-specific training plan consists of exercises that use your muscles in a similar way to the way you will use them in competition. For example, I know that one way to improve power in my golf swing is to strengthen my trunk and abdomen (my core muscles). So my exercise training routine should include exercises targeting those muscles. Crunches or bridging may work, I can even incorporate a stability ball to make it more challenging. Good idea but how about a reverse wood chop instead? The motion mimics the second half of the golf swing. Its more specific to what I am trying to do. Consequently, a standing cable twist works well for both tennis and baseball, what may work better? How about a medicine ball toss? This motion better mimics what I will be doing (swinging a racquet or baseball bat). Keep in mind, these are simply examples, all of the exercises mentioned can be useful.

Simply mimicking the important movements of sport is a good start, however, there are also metabolic demands to consider. When an athlete is meeting the metabolic demand of competition, he or she is able to repeatedly perform the necessary actions of the sport (running, kicking, throwing, jumping, etc) during competition without excessive fatigue. Here’s an example. In tennis, for every point I know I will be moving vigorously for about 5-10 seconds, then resting for 20-30 seconds (in between points). So I need to be able to generate large amounts of force repeatedly for up to 10 seconds (to get the ball, then hit it). I then need to recover in less than 30 seconds, so I can, again, be able to play the point optimally. This cycle will repeat until the match ends, which could be hours. Perhaps a circuit training routine, using a similar ratio (in this case 1:4, meaning interset rest time is 4x that of the set or interval) would serve me best. This is an example of training to meet the metabolic demands.

A sports-specific training plan also takes into account the common injuries occurring in a given sport. For example, in soccer, (or football, outside the US and UK), hamstring strain, another example, in basketball (or any sport with lots of jumping) patellar tendonitis is quite common. In these two examples, the muscles involved in supporting the hip-joint (in soccer) or the knee-joint (in basketball) should be getting extra attention in the their respective training plans, so that the athlete can successfully meet the demands of competition, in this case, reducing chances of those injuries.

So far I have discussed the things that are important in a sport-specific training plan. One needs to be aware of the important motions in the chosen sport and the muscles and joints involved. Also, the metabolic demands should be addressed as well, strong muscles are only beneficial when they are not fatigued.

What a sport-specific training plan is not:

  • A beatdown.  Though it may be intense at times,  I am not living in a sports drink commercial, I don’t need to punish myself, I haven’t done anything wrong.  In fact, I’ll save the punishment for game day.
  • A fitness regimen, though I may become more fit as I progress through the program.  Technically, if I intend to play or race in the spring, I should already be fairly “fit”.
  • A fat-burner.  It will not endow me with visible 6-pack abdominal muscles, if it does, then having sculpted abs should give me a significant advantage in the sport or event I am preparing for.  It is not a weight loss program.  Though getting myself to a “fighting” weight may be a legitimate goal but as I stated earlier, I should be relatively fit before I start a sport-specific training program.

While a sport-specific training program may indirectly be some of these things, the primary purpose is to improve performance during competition and reduce chances of incurring an injury.

Now, you have approximately eight weeks before the season opener, just enough time to get your program going and still have it be effective.

Thanks for reading.

Looking for guidance in improving your athletic performance? Better yet, ready to make a change in your life? I help folks eat, move, and recover well, contact me here to set up a free consult!

Published by mattktraining

I am currently the Owner of my soloprenuerial company Matt K Training. Through my fitness and nutrition programs I help adults develop skills and practices that help them eat, move, and recover well. Over the past 20 years, in various roles such as a Personal trainer, Exercise Physiologist, Clinical Researcher, and Health Coach I have helped hundreds of adults reach their health and physical performance goals. When not working, I enjoy active pursuits such as playing right field for the Charlton Giants (in a 38+ competitive baseball league), playing tennis, hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing. I also enjoy indoor activities such as playing strategy board games, reading and discussing science fiction literature, dabbling with my guitar, finding creative ways to eat oatmeal, and being a good dad.