SPORTS SPECIFIC TRAINING: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
By Coach J. Hoy, CSCSTalk to most commercial strength and conditioning businesses across the country and they will most likely sell you on the fact that the programming they do is sport specific training. Most parents and coaches would agree that an athlete's program should be sport specific. But what does this mean? Is it possible to train specifically for one sport? How specific can the training be?
Sports Specific TrainingSport specific training is simply fitness and performance training designed specifically for athletic performance enhancement. Training programs for athletic performance enhancement could include such areas as strength, speed, power, endurance, flexibility, mobility, agility, mental preparedness (including goal setting), sleep, recovery/regeneration techniques and strategies, nutrition, rehabilitation, pre-habilitation, and injury risk reduction.
A general program should include all of these components and a more specific program may only include a few, depending upon the athlete's specific needs (based on strengths, weaknesses and/or imbalances) and the demands of the sport they participate in.
Specific Training vs. Specific SkillsWhile there may be some sense of specificity to a program designed for an athlete of a specific sport, the truth is that there is a limit to the amount of application/carryover of a sports performance exercise to a sports skill. The most sports specific training that can be done is the sport itself. Sports specific skills practiced for the sport are as specific as one can get.
Take Ice Hockey, for example: there are no exercises that can be performed in the weight room that are more specific to hockey than skating on the ice. The same is true for shooting the puck. However, while there are sports specific skills necessary for each sport, there are also physical skills necessary for each sport. Sports preparation is necessary for the sport specific skills (shooting a basketball, pitching a baseball, etc.) and physical preparation is needed for specific performance enhancement such as foot speed, strength, power, etc.
Training Specificity: Metabolic ConditioningOne area where a strength and conditioning coach can get very sport specific is metabolic conditioning or energy system training. Here, the coach can train the athlete to be conditioned not only specifically to his/her sport but also to his/her specific position, based on the specific energy systems used during the sporting event. Conditioning can be designed to train the muscle tissues and anaerobic or aerobic energy systems specifically for the time frame (shifts, play drives, etc) of the athlete's sport. A good strength coach will always have his team(s) fully prepared for their next season.
Training Specificity: Injury Risk ReductionAnother area where the performance enhancement program can be very sport specific is in the area of injury risk prevention. Statistics about the most prevalent injuries for a particular sport, position, gender, and age group can be used to specifically address areas that are most susceptible to injury in that sport. The strength and conditioning coach can then design effective programs for reducing the risk of athletes getting injured from non-contact related injuries.
Sports Specific Training: Balanced ProgramsThere are mixed opinions among strength and conditioning coaches about designing 'sports specific training programs.' I think that there needs to be a balance between the general and specific exercises, and the athlete must first develop the proper foundation with performance fundamentals. Some coaches suggest that athlete's should be trained to be stronger and more explosive, with no regard to specificity, while other suggest that general strength and power needs some specificity in the weight room to best carryover to the sport.
Again, I think there needs to be a balance between sports specific training and athlete specific training. Each athlete should be training to get stronger and more explosive and this new strength and power needs to be trained to be applied to his/her sport. I don't think that heavy back squats, box squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are the end-all, nor do I think that totally functional bodyweight movements are the end-all. I think there needs to be a delicate balance specific to the sport, the individual, and the time of year. It doesn't matter if an athlete can squat 1000lbs if he can't use that strength to his advantage in his sport, or better yet, if he can't do 90 bodyweight squat in 90 seconds, or his vertical jump is less than 20". All strength and functionality needs to be relative to his/her sport.
It Shouldn't Be All Sports Specfic TrainingA successful program needs to be designed with this balance and the goal in mind. A program that is too general will not properly prepare the athlete, and a program that is too specific (or attempts to be too specific) will also not properly prepare the athlete (an additionally runs the risk of overtraining certain movement patterns which increases the risk of injury). If you are not doing a balanced program, you need to re-evaluate what you are doing. If you need help, find a strength coach that believes in using balanced programs to achieve the best results.
Coaching ResponsibilitiesIt is the duty of the strength and conditioning coach to prepare each athlete to perform at his/her best when it matters the most. In other words, we are here to help athlete's perform their best and win games and championships. We need to have a relationship with each sport's coach that is expressed in the design of our programs. We must also share the goal of the sport's coach-to win games. We should not be here to set records with the strength level of our athletes, or to merely create weight room specialists. We are here to help win. We must do whatever we can to help each athlete prepare to perform and win the games, and ultimately the championship.
"Coach Jeremy Hoy and Finish First is one of if not the main reason I am where I am today. If it were not for his sport-specific training programs, I could only have dreamt of making it this far. Any athlete who has any aspirations of making it to the next level is foolish to not train with Finish First. Regardless of your current skill, going anywhere else to train is a waste of time, money and talent."
--Christian Hanson, NHL Boston Bruins/AHL Providence Bruins
"Training for the Miss America pageant included 6 weeks of intense training at Finish First Sports performance. Coach Jeremy Hoy put my physical endurance to the test and pushed me to my limit. In those intense weeks of physical preparation, I truly learned what It meant to be an athlete. Training at FFSP can help ANY pageant girl become an athlete - She will look and feel her very best. ..."
--Miss Pennsylvania America 2011, Juliann Sheldon
"As you progress in hockey and aspire to get to higher levels, your off season training becomes increasingly important. Once I started training at Finish First I noticed a difference in my strength, speed, and power on and off the ice. There is no better place for a hockey player to train than Finish First. Where I am now in my career I can credit to Finish First, and I know continuing my training there will get me where I want to be."
--Matt Bartkowski, NHL Boston Bruins/AHL Providence Bruins
"Working out at Finish First Sports Performance with Jeremy Hoy was by far the best workout experience I've ever had. I spent six weeks going to FFSP two and three times a day and each time I had a unique workout that helped me achieve the results I desired. Jeremy was always so encouraging and pushed me both physically and mentally to reach my full potential. I went to Miss America in the best shape of my life and felt so confident and prepared..."
--Miss Pennsylvania America 2010, Courtney Thomas
"Finish First has helped me to perform at my best and to be in the best shape possible in order to compete at the highest level. Jeremy's motivational attitude and custom workouts allow me to get the most out of my training - which is geared towards making me a better hockey player AND stronger athlete. His specialized drills and exercises for goalies, and for improving my dynamic vision, have had an immediate transfer to what I need on the ice. ..."
--Brianne McLaughlin, Goaltender, USA Women's Olympic Ice Hockey Team
"I spent six weeks at Finish First Sports Performance working intensely with Coach Hoy to prepare for the Miss America pageant. I worked out three times a day, every day! Coach Hoy pushed me harder than I ever could have imagined possible. When I felt defeated, he always had an inspirational story or quote to re-inspire me, and then he would push me harder. Jeremy saw an inner-strength and confidence in me even when I struggled to see it in myself. ..."
--Miss Pennsylvania America 2009, Shannon Doyle
"Prior to training with Jeremy Hoy and the team at Finish First, one of the biggest knocks I received from coaches was my endurance. I would slowly wear down as the season went on, which would make me lose a step in a game where every inch is so important. Since I began my off-season training with Jeremy's programs in the summer of 09' this has no longer been an issue. ...Jeremy has made me a much more explosive and confident power forward. ..."
--Chris Kushneriuk, Professional Hockey Player for the Bakersfield Condors
"Jeremy Hoy and Finish First Sports Performance has by far been the best sport-specific training I've ever experienced. I've played for many teams and have had countless different trainers and training programs, and they weren't even close. The program is designed for me as a hockey player, to improve my performance on the ice. Hoy's program allowed me to stand out in hockey and move on to the next level. ..."
--Brock Meadows, Professional Hockey Player, Texas Brahmas
"Having competed at the local, state and national levels before coming to Jeremy, I always knew how I wanted to look but never got precisely the results I was striving for. With FFSP, I was able to SURPASS my expectations and become the strongest competitor I could be. Combined with expertise in training, nutrition and overall health, I thank Jeremy and his staff for making me both mentally and physically STRONG! ..."
--Elyse Healy, Top 10 Miss PA 2010
"I trained under Jeremy Hoy at Finish First Sports Performance in preparations for the 2009 and 2010 Miss Pennsylvania pageants. I am proud to say that I was a preliminary swimsuit award winner both years! Jeremy gives his full attention to his clients and creates their routines and diet plans specifically for them. Jeremy trained me in ways I have never experienced before. New exercises, new muscles, and new pains! ..."
--Shauna Rice, 2009 & 2010 Preliminary Swimsuit Winner and Top 5 Finish
"Each and every year you need to make sure that you are in your top shape when heading into the season. With the customized training that Jeremy Hoy and Finish First gives you, you get into your top shape so you have that edge over the other people. I can credit Finish First and Jeremy Hoy for where I am now in my career and where I want to be. If you are serious about making it to the next level and want to gain that edge over the others then I recommend training with Jeremy Hoy and Finish First."
--Denny Urban, Professional Hockey Player, Reading Royals
"Jeremy and the coaches at Finish First Sports Performance have helped me prepare for each hockey season through intense hockey specific training. With the rigorous schedule of major junior hockey, my training experience at Finish First has helped me to stay strong and not wear down through the long season, and helped me to finish the year as strong and explosive as I started it."
--Michael Houser, Goaltender, London Knights (OHL)
OHL Player of the year 2011-12
CHL Goaltender of the year 2011-12
"Even though I live and train in Chicago during the summer, I am able to stay in touch with Coach Hoy and get weekly programs that really help me prepare for the upcoming season."
--Theo "Teddy" Ruth, NHL Columbus Blue Jackets/AHL Springfield Falcons
"Jeremy Hoy knows hockey and hockey specific training. I have watched many elite players over the years train with him and they are always prepared, in good shape and ready to go when the season starts."
--Derek Schooley, NCAA Division 1 Men's Ice Hockey Head Coach
"We pride ourselves on being the hardest working/best conditioned team in the USHL and Coach Hoy makes that possible. His knowledge, attention to detail, and no-nonsense approach to training pushes our players to their maximum potential. When players leave our program I have no doubt that they will bring with them the strength, power and conditioning to help them excel at the level. We have Jeremy to thank for that."
--Anthony Noreen, Head Coach, Youngstown Phantoms USHL Ice Hockey Team
"Training with Coach Hoy at Finish First not only helped me in my MTV Made pageant performance but also as a collegiate athlete -- it was the best training I've received in 20 years of being an athlete. Going into my pageant experience as an athlete I felt I had the advantage of the fitness and swim suit routine, but soon realized I was wrong... Coach Hoy provided me with a workout that not only got me in phenomenal pageant shape but also was still helping with my athletic career..."
--Maeve Gallagher, 3-Sport College Athlete, MTV Made Celebrity
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Athletes from the following organizations have used Finish First Sports Performance services:
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