How does sports performance training differ from general training for everyday athletes?

Why is sports performance training becoming one of the most important tools in an athletes arsenal? Who needs sports performance training?

Sports performance training does not mean creating exercises that look like they replicate a sporting movement and then trying to overload them. Sports performance training is not squatting on a swiss ball or completing multiple hill sprints at your local park.In this day and age, with the research available and the technology at our finger tips, sports performance training has crested the hill and become an integral part of any athletes toolbox.Sports performance training is derived as a result of assessing an athletes ability to perform tasks related to their sport at the best of their ability. These tasks take many different forms and ultimately we cannot seek to improve them all at once.

Physiological tasks can include aerobic/anaerobic output, power, speed, strength, repeat effort and recovery. Psychological tasks can include mindset, perseverance, priming and resilience. A coach must have the ability to accurately understand the tasks required for a sport and assess their athlete’s ability to perform those tasks. These assessments can come from performance testing, game-day analysis, in-session assessment and game-day metrics (e.g. GPS).

Prior to starting any sports performance training, a coach must ask themselves the following questions:

  1. What is my objective over the upcoming training block?
  2. Has my athlete completed appropriate training prior to starting this program?
  3. Where will I look to go once this training block has finished?
  4. Does the program cover the principles of specificity, adaptability, intensity and overload
  5. Have I sought counsel from my peers for feedback?

Once the coach has answered these questions they should analyse their sports performance program to ensure it has aspects of the following:

  1. Flexibility / Mobility
  2. Strength / Power
  3. Stability / Proprioception / Co-ordination
  4. Speed / Change of Direction
  5. Warm-up / Gait training
  6. Recovery / Regeneration

As a rule of thumb, it is beneficial for coaches to look to cover off 90% of the fundamental basics in the program, including:

  1. Squat / Hinge
  2. Push / Pull
  3. Brace / Rotate
  4. Jump / Land
  5. Accelerate / Decelerate
  6. Cut / Pivot

If these fundamental basics are not included in the program and have not been previously included in their program, the athlete MUST attain a high level of proficiency prior to including any sports specific exercises.