- Tyler Hakamaki
Specificity in sports training
You always hear the talk about the importance of specificity in sports training. This refers to the idea that practicing in a manner that closely mimics the demands of competition will result in greater transfer and improved performance.
In accordance with the SAID (Specific adaptations of imposed demands) principle, the outcome you get from your training is directly related to the demands you place on your body. For barbell athletes, the weight room is a lot closer to the specificity of competition compared to other sports. With this, there is a generalization that barbell athletes train super specifically. For court and field athletes, playing their sport is considered specialized physical preparation (SPP), and the weight room is viewed as general physical preparation (GPP).
It's important to note that just because a barbell is used in training doesn't automatically make it specific to barbell athletes. For example, a 4x8 set rep scheme may be classified as a special preparation for a barbell athlete, but it's not competition-style. Many barbell athletes are not always training in a 3x1 set rep scheme competition style. Court and field athletes are told to prepare in the weight room to aid their sport. This begs the question, is general preparation actually more beneficial to competition than what is given credit?
In my experience, concurrent training, which involves combining different forms of physical preparation such as GPP and SPP, can play a significant role in aiding specificity in sports training. For instance, court and field athletes can use the weight room to improve their general physical qualities, and then translate these improvements to their sport through specialized preparation. In this way, the weight room can complement and enhance their sport-specific skills and abilities. The same theory can be applied to barbell athletes in training with variability in their specificity to aid in general physical qualities, translating these improvements to their sport through specialized preparation.
While specificity is a critical aspect of sports training, more often than not a balanced combination of general and specialized preparation is usually being used, and just mislabeled as specialized training. Implementing concurrent training for different forms of physical preparation such as GPP and SPP is a great method for creating a well-rounded program and athlete.