Short Term Training Tactics and Specificity in Training

Do you have the correct program design?


In the list of building the perfect athlete I talk about strategy and tactics. Strategy is the longer term road map or plan to get you from where you are now to where you would like to be as an athlete. This includes the establishment of goals, the timing and measurement of the progress. What are your strengths and weakness as an athlete? Are there any external factors effecting your performance and how are they addressed. It answers the why of a workout on any particular day. It is the architectural training plan so that that the outcome satisfies your goal as an athlete.

The tactics are many. What particular exercises? What is the volume and intensity of a particular training methodology? Does the exercise enhance the ability to perform the particular movements required in the sport? The answer to that question revolves around the idea of Specificity of Training. At Sirens and Titans Fitness we believe that winning in sport is derived from the development of power (moving your body through space) in a fashion that suits a particular sport. This is (power x X Factor) The X factor is the amount of times or level of absolute power and also how long can you hold the highest percentage of your absolute power to perform a task. For example: Swinging a baseball bat is a much different X factor than throwing a punch for a boxer. The boxer has to produce a smaller amount of power numerous times in a fight than the hitter of a baseball. The mechanical requirements and metabolic requirements are much different and the training must be adjusted to accommodate the different requirements of the different sports.

This accommodation and differences in the trainings is defined as Specificity of Training. This accommodation ties directly into the concept of correlation and training that I discussed in a previous post. The focus of the training should be on exercises that modify the body’s complex neuromuscular systems to overcoming movements that apply directly to the particular sport.

This requires the analysis of a particular sports movement pattern. Looking at baseball again, the training must evaluate the movement patterns of hitting, throwing, and running bases. What are the bio-mechanical adaptations necessary? What type of movement pattern? What is the type of muscle contractions necessary? What are the metabolic requirements of the baseball? These requirements are just a small list with many more factors to be considered and addressed when training a baseball player.

So you get the idea of specificity. This is not to be confused with simulation. Many strength and conditioning programs are developed to try to simulate the sport and just add a level of resistance to the movements. This can be helpful in certain movements, however if done without foresight the training can actually confuse the neuromuscular patterns that have been developed and therefore result in a diminishment of sport performance especially of a very high level athlete. Simulating the sport with resistance does not take into account all the physics of movement like center of gravity, inertia etc., so be thoughtful and understand the difference between simulation and specificity.

Think about the X factor of your sport and train in a way that addresses the specific needs and requirements of that particular sport. Your tactics should be adjusted so that it addresses the specific requirements of the movements and metabolic requirements of your sport.


Truth in Fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS