The buzzword for a while in athletic performance is sport-specific training, but it's a little misleading. I get questions all the time about the type of sport-specific training we do. This is a tough question for me to answer because I see a fundamental difference between performance training and sport-specific training. If you’re a parent or an athlete and you’re looking for sport-specific training, what exactly are the results that you want? I’m going to tell you why you need to seek out coaches like me for a specific purpose: to make you into a better athlete regardless of the demands of your sport.
I had a parent share a video with me of a softball training technique for a catcher: the athlete jumps up from the catching position to a ready-to-throw position while moving through an agility ladder for reps. Sounds like a pretty sport-specific drill right? Here’s the problem I had with the video: while the drill in itself was creative from a skill standpoint, the athlete’s movement patterns were atrocious. Ankles were turned rolling inward, knees were buckling in on the jumps, and there was more ‘bounce’ in the joints than controlled explosive movement. This all puts the female athlete at higher risk for knee injury, along with the poor mechanics leading to a less than optimal throw.
Here’s where performance (aka strength and power) training comes in that is not exactly sport-specific. If that’s my athlete in the video, I’m thinking about strength and plyometric exercises that we need to implement into her performance training program to ensure she can perform the same movement well without weak links in the kinetic chain. My athlete, who does specific exercises to correct those faulty movement patterns mentioned above, will get out of the hole more explosively and could generate a more powerful throw than an athlete who doesn’t train in this manner, regardless if my athlete does the ladder drill or not. Our goal is to ensure the entire musculoskeletal system works like a well-oiled machine. No softball or ladder necessary.
In the modern youth sports environment, there is no such thing as an off-season anymore. With multiple sports practices and games, academics, and family time, there’s hardly an extra minute to add something new to the workload. But to achieve maximal performance results, dedicated and individualized performance training must be included to help the athlete improve the weaknesses in their strength and power, and reduce the occurrence of overuse injuries from the sport. Their time would be better spent in a facility such as ours getting stronger and faster rather than playing for a 2nd fall ball team. The younger an athlete starts, the better. One of our most improved is 9 years old... just wait until he's 17.
Before I wrap it up, I want to add that performance training is not exclusive to athletes. Do you spend 60 hours chained to a desk only to go out and stumble through 18 holes on the weekend? Would you like to be able to keep up with the grand kids more easily? Maybe your doctor recommended you to lose some weight. Our service is to help you do whatever it is you do, better.
When it comes down to it, the only thing that is truly sport-specific is playing the sport itself. The advent of the information age has brought on the expert of all things. Leave the strength and speed to educated, knowledgeable, and experienced coaches like us.