Sports Performance Training vs "Working Out"

Posted: October 12, 2015

Playing a sport and working out are two different spectrums. Working out is recreational exercise for general health and wellness, which consists of going on a run, or a bike ride, or lifting weights at the gym. This is great for the average person, but athletes are not average. They require a specific skill set that allows them to excel at their sport. The foundational athletic skills consist of speed, agility, strength, power, endurance, and flexibility; all which are tapered and refined depending on their sport. The training for an endurance athlete (marathon runner) would be different for a power athlete (sprinter) or unidirectional (sprinter) versus multidirectional (soccer or hockey) sports. Although each athlete should have a solid foundational athletic base, an athlete should engage in sport specific training to improve performance as well as prevent injury. A soccer player should train like a soccer player, meaning interval training, power exercises, agility with quick change of direction, acceleration and deceleration, and total body strength; soccer is not just about running and kicking a ball. Similar with hockey or football or basketball, which are sports that rely heavily on strength tests that are judged on a numerical scale (i.e. bench press, squat, power clean). There is nothing wrong with these tests but when they become the sole focus of training that is when it becomes an issue. It is great if your linebacker can bench press 300 pounds but if he cannot explode off his line and make the tackle, then that 300 pound bench press does not really matter. Sports performance training should mimic the movements performed during sport, that way the body can properly adapt and perform those movements during the game. This is when the most injuries occur is when the body is not ready, especially during competition. Train for your sport, which is not just about how much weight you can lift or how often you “work out”; but it is about performing your best at your sport and preventing injury, that is what matters.  

Melissa Garcia is currently a Strength Coach at Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Lake Forest, California.