Back in the day, when a person wanted to get better at a sport they simply practiced. If the person wanted to get in better shape (stronger and more conditioned), they performed general exercises like push-ups, wind sprints, pull ups, and more.
Nothing was too specific.
With the popularity and growth of the sports training industry, new training methods and advances have allowed individuals to excel more at their respected sports. A particular methodology and training advancement is sports specific training.
Sports specific training is when an athlete or individual participate in certain exercises or movements that are involved in their sport. These movements or exercises are usually modified with some sort of resistance or difficulty to train the athlete’s mind and body to adapt to a higher difficulty of performance so when they are playing their respected sport they are in an excelled and advanced form.
Sports specific training has come under some criticism too as of late, especially with the growth of metabolic training methods such as CrossFit. The claims go back to more of an “old school” mentality saying one needs to focus more on an overall generalized growth in their fitness level as opposed to short changing themselves with focusing only on certain movements that pertain to their sport. If an athlete for instance in only concerned with getting a better vertical jump by doing weighted jumps as opposed to doing movements that not only strengthen the legs but may also work the back and arms which could contribute into a better vertical as well amongst other things.
Studies show however that the higher up in the ranks an athlete becomes in their sport (going from college to the pros), that sports specific training has a place. Athletes become pretty well rounded from a fitness standpoint and have certain areas they always want to improve on. So, if you are a wide receiver in the NFL and you want to work on your first step off the line of scrimmage, doing moves to mimic that are more of a benefit than doing something that is more generalized. Consider it more of a “honing of the skills”.
So, if you are an athlete, it is important to be in shape and have a well-rounded level of fitness. But if you want to be a cut above the rest, sports specific training is critical for becoming the best you can be.