why sport-specific training could be right for you


Sport-specific training is always a topic that I bring up when first meeting an athlete and their parents. Some coaches scoff at the idea of sport-specific training, but I think it is a great topic to discuss.

To me, it just seems like common sense.

  • It’s based on you competing in a sport.
  • You want to improve performance in that sport.
  • You have decided to spend time and energy on training other than sports/skills.
  • Therefore, it’s perfectly logical that it should be specific.

Below, I am going to cover what you need to understand about sport-specific training. This includes:

  • Why you want sport-specific training.
  • What sport-specific training is.
  • Transfer of training.
  • How sport-specificity affects long term athletic development.
  • How to figure out what is specific to your sport.
  • Sport-specific speed, strength, stamina and mobility.


Whenever I am asked for a training program, the first thing I always ask is:Why do you train?

It is the bread and butter of how I coach. I need to understand an athlete’s, WHY? Their deeper motivation.

what does this have to do with sport-specific training?

context and coaching

  • You see, as a coach, my responsibility is to help guide you to the right solutions. If I don’t have any context to your question about sport-specific training, I would just be making assumptions. And those assumptions could be wrong.
  • Do you want sport-specific training because you have potential in the sport and want to play at a high level? Some athletes are just trying to make their team or get playing time.
  • Maybe you want to train specifically so that you can reduce your risk of injury. Or perhaps you’ve had an injury and are trying to get back to your pre-injury performance level.
  • Perhaps you’ve tried some training that wasn’t “sport-specific,” and you didn’t see results, or worse it had a negative effect on your game.
  • All of those goals may, in fact, require some type of sport-specific training. However, they are also different.

why do you train?

This question is important for me to understand because, after all, when we look deeper, sport-specific training is really: your goal-specific training. Most athletes seek sport-specific training to meet their sport-specific goals. If you already have a coach that doesn’t try to understand you and your goals, then they might be missing the mark. And that is bad coaching.

So, lets determine the underlying motivation behind sport-specific training.

  • You want results in your sport.
  • You don’t want to waste time and effort on training that doesn’t contribute to those results.

“The purpose of sport-specific training is to use training to effectively and efficiently reach your goals in the sport.”

what is sport-specific training?

Since we know what the purpose is; what is sport-specific training?

When we discuss “sport-specific” we hear a lot of different concepts. Often, it’s based on doing things that look like the sport. Drills that use the sports equipment; balls, bats, gloves, sticks, etc…

Other times it’s practicing sports skills with rubber bands on, wearing weight vests, or hooked up to bungee cords and devices.

At the elite level those ideas occasionally come up, but the discussion tends to get more straight to the point. My Special Olympic powerlifting team wanted results at the 2022 USA Games. In their sport. PERIOD.

Elite athletes face heavy physical and mental demands. The margin for error can be incredibly small. In some Special Olympic sports, 1/2 KG can be the difference between a Gold medal and not being on the podium at all.

An athlete facing that can’t waste time or energy. They can’t add wear and tear to their body if it doesn’t give them better results in return. Me as a coach, I care about the same thing.

Sports specific training transfers to better performance, lower injury risk and increased competitive longevity.