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How Sport-Specific Training Should (and Shouldn’t) Be Done

Written By Jayme Pantekoek | Published May 29th 2022


In our last blog post, we talked about how it’s important for one-sport athletes to appropriately train to round out the “tools” in their toolbox so they have a solid athletic foundation to build off in order to reach their full potential. “Sport-specific” training that merely focuses on repeating the same movements used in an athlete’s sport does not reach this goal.

Instead, sport-specific training should occur at the fuel systems and characteristics level. How do we do this at FAST? We test and break these categories down in our training protocol to achieve the best possible outcome for the athlete within their sport and overall as an athlete. While every sport uses all these fuel systems and characteristics to some degree, they differ in the amounts the sports prioritize them.

Let’s go over a few:

Fuel Systems and Characteristics We Train

Fuel Systems

ATP/CP (Adenosine Triphosphate/Creatine Phosphate): This fuel system is heavily used by explosive sports and lasts only a few seconds. ( Lasts 5-15 seconds)

Glycolytic: This fuel system is used primarily by sports that have lots of repeat bouts of sprints in one shift of play. This system lasts seconds to a couple minutes. ( Lasts 30 seconds - 2 minutes)

Oxidative: This fuel system is used to recover the other fuel systems as well as used in high endurance sports. ( Lasts over 3 minutes)


Speed: We heavily prioritize speed in sports like track and field, baseball and football where there is shorter play but action is very intense 100% effort.

Repeat Power: This characteristic is used by sports that have repeated bouts of sprints of 90% and above effort during a single shift where the athlete must recover while the action is taking place.

Strength: Sports that have high levels of contact, require athlete manipulation and lots of stops and starts at an extreme level of intensity require strength. Strength allows for the acceleration of the athlete and increased start speed and stopping/change of direction time.


How We Train Characteristics, Systems, Skills (and Identify Deficiencies)

After identifying and implementing programming to build these characteristics and types of energy systems needed for the development of the sport, we can start identifying the lack of individual skills needed for the athlete to perform in their sport.

Every athlete has different skill sets that they use or lack in their sport, and every sport has different skills that need to have to be the best they can be in those sports. For example, baseball and hockey have rotational power as a necessary skill to their sport, while volleyball and basketball have foot positioning for different types of vertical jumps.

In this skillset category also comes the deficiencies of all around athleticism due to increased playing time of a single sport and how to combat the overuse or over characteristic development of the athlete in their sport. This is where the antithesis element of “sport specific training” comes into play.

We add an element that brings them out of the normal motions of their sport, open up new pathways of movement in complimentary muscle groups and helps prevent overuse and injury in their sport. Doing the antithesis of a sports not only prevents injury and overuse it enhances those sport skills.

Take for example a 100m track and field athlete, where you would think the only skill and characteristics they would need is running straight ahead and to be very efficiently skilled at it, but training laterally and developing the muscles that are intended for lateral movement stabilize the muscles used to run straight ahead. This gives them more stability and power to do so and increasing their overall force and power moving forward.

Therefore, when you hear about “sport-specific training” make sure it’s in the context of training the proper fuel systems and characteristics and not just training the athlete in the same skills, movements, and motions that they use in their sport, which leads to overuse and can cause injury. Sport-specific training should be complementary of the movements and muscle patterns used in the sport.

Find out more about our comprehensive development training for your athletes by clicking here or contacting Jayme Pantekoek.

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