The Difference Between "General Athletic Training" and "Sport Specific Practice"

I get this question quite often: "My athlete is involved in this or that sport and really wants to get better at it, and needs specific movements and drills to get better in that sport. Can you help him/her?"

My answer: ABSOLUTELY!

However, the answer is a bit more complicated than that. It comes in the form of the discussion between general athletic training and sport-specific practice. Each are very important for the development of an athlete, but the strength and conditioning specialist can only help in one of these areas.

Sport-specific practice is the stuff an athlete will do in practice to get better at that sport. This may include dribbling a basketball, hitting a curveball, doing the backstroke, or running a specific play.

All of these skills are imperative in order to compete at a high level in each specific sport. But in order to perform these skills well, they must be practiced. There is no other way around it.

General athletic training is pretty much everything else outside the realm of sport-specific practice. It is the qualities that can be transferred from sport to sport and are a requirement for pretty much any sport.

These qualities may include quality movement, speed, agility, explosiveness, and strength. This is where the strength and conditioning specialist can help, oftentimes in a big way.

I have tried to hammer this point home in the past: strength is something EVERY athlete can benefit from.

If an athlete is able to produce more force, everything he or she does becomes easier, from swinging a bat to sprinting (or even jogging for extended periods) to swimming. Getting an athlete stronger makes the sport-specific practice easier.

Along with strength, if an athlete is faster, can change directions quickly (or change speed quickly), jump or move explosively, and has better movement quality sport-specific practice again becomes easier.

So, can I help you or your athlete? I certainly can help! We can get an athlete stronger, faster, and more explosive, all of which are necessary for virtually all sports in some form.

Can I help them be better at dribbling a basketball, swinging a golf club, or tracking down a fly ball? Not exactly, but I can help to make it easier.

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