Sport specific training has gone somewhat over-board. Ill-advised trainers and coaches are having athletes perform movements that directly mimic a sport action (i.e. throwing a baseball) with resistance. This is one of those cases where the obvious seems true but when you dig a little deeper it’s all smoke in mirrors. A post like this could go on for days, but instead I’ll keep it short and sweet.
Athletes are already performing sport specific movements such as throwing a baseball, rugby ball or swinging a golf club every day at practice or in competition, there is no need to put these movements into their resistance training programming. Why, Todd? (That would be a fair question for you to ask right now). Well, the reasoning is simple and there are two main points to consider when processing this dilemma. One is that adding resistance to a movement that is typically done in the sport can actually mess up the mechanics of the athlete. Having a pitcher throw a weighted baseball will cause him to alter his mechanics, ultimately leading to making his throwing motion less efficient. This could lead to a completely different movement pattern make him a worse pitcher. The second reason is the concern for injury pertaining to a concept called a pattern of overuse. If our athletes are already performing a movement that has become and engrained motor pattern the body already is used to moving in that pattern. When we start to over-emphasize that movement the body starts to compensate, leading to muscle imbalances and ultimately leading to injury.
So, what do we do instead? We simply develop all of the athletic qualities that will improve the movement and make it more efficient. If a movement requires hip mobility, core stability and rotary strength, we develop those qualities in the athlete using non-specific patterns which in turn makes them better at the sport specific movement. When in doubt, make your joints more mobile; pick up heavy stuff and condition. You’ll be a better athlete.
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