Sport Specific Training
A term that has completely plagued our profession, sport specific is the biggest mistake we’ve ever made as parents, trainers, and “coaches” for the development of our young athletes. Sport specific training means to mold our strength and conditioning, as well as speed, agility, and quickness (SAQ) training to directly resemble the movements often portrayed on the playing field.
In the last two decades, the term sport specific has been widely used to trick parents into thinking that movements that specifically resemble the activity being performed on the playing field will lead to accelerated performance. This is a fallacy, and not only does repetitive practice of movement not necessarily improve performance, it is often detrimental to the soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) as well as skill set (coordination and activation) for the majority of kids.
This is true for a couple reasons:
1. Children grow, and practicing a movement over and over again during growth spurts will have periods of lows and highs as far as skills go. Continuously practicing one movement during this time period will not allow their nervous system to experience a wide range of stimuli, which is essential for physical development.
2. Repetitive movements in the same manner without a break encourages movement dysfunctions, imbalances, and increases risk of injury. You’re better off doing movements that properly strengthen the entire body such as bear crawls, crab walks, pushing, pulling, carrying, and jumping, and exposing the body to multiple forms of full body movements.
3. Muscles are strengthened in certain ways more effectively than others. For example, the motion of throwing is a connection of muscle being activated such as the Glutes (butt), lower back, obliques, upper back, and arms. There are much, let me repeat that, MUCH, better ways to strengthen these muscles than doing things such as weighted throws, or any other movement that mimics the throwing motion too specifically.
Bottom line, your youth athlete is not yet a professional, and it is recommended by ALL experts in youth training that specificity shouldn’t even be considered until age 16. It all depends on the maturity of the child, as some children grow faster than others, but normally the child that is a star in one sport is well versed in multiple sports.