Thursday, July 19, 2007

What Are You Talking About…Specifically?

My original intention for this article was to go through a thorough explanation of the misnomer “sport-specific training,” but after a few conversations over the last few days with some of my peers who have encountered some “debates” over this idiotic concept, I’ve decided to just cut to the chase and discuss this plain and simple.

Sport-Specific Training – The Old Days

In my day, sport-specific training (which I don’t believe was even a trendy term at the time) meant becoming more physically fit by strength training, running, performing wind sprints etc., along with hours upon hours of skillful practice of one’s chosen sport. Currently, the term “sport-specific training” has taken on a completely different connotation, largely in part because of the commercialization of the strength and conditioning industry. At the present time, the idea of sport-specific training is touted as being able to duplicate or imitate a specific "skill" or aspect of ones sport in the weight room atmosphere. As for me, it meant practicing sprinting and making cuts up and down the court while dribbling a basketball, rebounding, shooting and actually performing game-like activities, not running with a parachute on my back or throwing weighted balls or jumping off boxes.

Here’s a personal anecdote that I’ll use as an example. I played basketball my entire young life and back in the late 1970’s, weighted vests became popular (what, do you think weighted vests are new?) so I purchased one. I wore that thing all the time because I was going to improve my jumping, my speed and my quickness – well, so I thought. I ran, jumped and practiced shooting every day with that vest on and in the beginning I had trouble making any of my shots, my running stride was out of whack and my timing was way off. Why? - Because I was learning new motor skills. After about a week I started making my shots and started to get my timing down. Now, after that week I decided to go play some pickup games sans the vest and to my surprise, I couldn’t make a shot to save my life. My timing was way off, my stride was not right and I miss timed my jumps. Why? I had developed new learning skills with the vest on which DID NOT cross over to my needs on the basketball court. - Fred Fornicola

Part 2 to follow....