Is Your Sport-Specific Training Going to Transfer?

Today’s post covers the topic of sport-specific training which has garnered a ton of attention over the years in the strength and conditioning world.  More specific exercises will lead to more specific results, leading to better performance. Makes sense to me… right? There are many elements to assessing whether an exercise will transfer into a sporting event, or if you aren’t competing in sports, whether it will transfer into everyday life.  

What's most important?

Motor patterns should mimic what is required in the activity.  This is why you see so many squats, lunges, pushing and pulling that are designed to challenge joints in similar angles and velocities to the skills of running, jumping, cutting, etc.

Sensory information should also be closely interrelated to the skill in question.  This is where sport-specific training tends to be lackluster. Does a back-loaded squat produce the same sensory feedback as trying to jump as high as you can on a basketball court?  Probably not. It may not be the best way to improve an advanced athlete’s game-day vertical jump.

If someone has had to recover from an ACL injury or knee reconstruction, they’ve probably spent some time walking in a pool to recover.  This is an age-old method that has produced results for years but does it provide similar sensory information to walking? Simply looking at the effect of gravity would lead us to say no to that question. Maybe it’s not the best way to improve someone’s healthy gait pattern.     

When deciding on exercise progressions to improve a sport skill, be sure to assess what sensory information you are providing the body and how it synchronizes with the task.  While there is a time and a place for non-sensory related exercise, if you want to continue to improve transfer of your training, synchronizing sensory feedback will be a bridge that you have to cross eventually.   

Happy training.

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