Sports Training

Posted by Eric Hofmann on Friday, September 6, 2013 Under: Health and Fitness blog
Within the world of training and specifically personal training/strength & conditioning and even more specific sport specialization. There is quite a market out there - what will give an athlete the edge, how can I get in top shape for competition, what can I do in the off-season, etc. What age is appropriate for sports training and/or specialization? Furthermore, with ever increasing numbers of parent involvement in today's youth sports. The question seems to always come back, "what can I do to help my child's athletic ability". Or in some cases, which no one seems to want to discuss is - the parents are living vicariously through there son or daughters athletic career. And, simply will look for anything that could provide them with an edge on the competition, at all ages!

So the question we are looking at that I will attempt to answer is a multifaceted question:
  • What is sports training?
  • What age is appropriate to begin sports training?
  • How long should I perform sport specific training? (Short term & Long term)
  • What key elements should I look for when searching for sport specific training?

I, will begin by mentioning we at Performance Training have been specializing in sport specific training since 2006. And have been focused on sport specific training since late 2000. We have literally worked with hundred's of athletes of all sports and ability's from youth thru professional. However, roughly 85% of our clientele are involved in the sport of, Hockey. Having said that, our focus is a little more specialized when it comes to the game of Hockey and the needs of it's athletes to perform at an optimal level. For more information on Performance Training and what we are all about, check out what we have done in the athletic world

What is sports training?

1) Improving General Fitness:
Improving aerobic power, flexibility, strength, and diet while decreasing body fat and increasing muscle mass.

2) Sport Specific Conditioning:
For athletes, improved aerobic power aids endurance, and decreased body fat allows for faster, more efficient motions. Added strength and flexibility, plus a healthy diet helps maintain the exercise regimen with a reduced risk of injury. And, focusing on specific movements indicative of your respective sport. In some cases focusing on specific movements indicative of a specific position in a specific sport. 

What age is appropriate to begin sports training?

This is a highly debated topic - Recently we started training a group of 8-11 year old's. Focusing on the basics of agility & plyometrics. While including basic strength of the entire body including the core muscles - using body weight as the resistance. In my professional opinion you can begin working with kid's at the earliest age of 5 years old. However, having said this. A few things need to be taken into consideration. First, the program needs to be suited to the age group and to there natural abilities. In this case sports training with 5 year old would focus primarily on developing gross and fine motor skills - hand eye coordination, balance, etc. Not strength, conditioning, and speed. With each age bracket and abilities of said athlete you can increase the difficulty of the program. The focus needs to be on what their bodies can handle and what is naturally developing in the current time of the athletes body. With that said here are some rough ages of specific things you can begin to work on. 8-13 years old you can begin agility and plyometrics with basic movements along with basic resistance training, using body weight. 13-15 years you can begin getting into more advance agility and plyo movements along with incorporating a basic weight resistance program. 15 & up, you can get into just about anything that the athlete can handle, especially begin to introduce cognitive training in the program as well. 

How long should I perform sport specific training? (Short term & Long term)

The minimum amount of time one should perform an off-season or in-season sport specific training program should be 6 weeks. 2-3 times a week for 6 weeks. From what we have seen this gives the athlete ample time to receive plenty if repetition and progress through the given tasks and gives the body time to create the correct body schema to perform effectively of a given task. Long-term, is something that is up to the end-user so to speak. Obviously, I believe you should make sport specific training an integral part of your sport. Each year you will develop more and more thus becoming more and more effective at your position. I, believe the best recipe for success for sport-specific training is as follows:

  • Rest for 4-6 weeks after the season comes to an end. The body and mind need time to rest.
  • Begin sport specific training. 3 times a week for 6-8 weeks.
  • 1-2 week break
  • Enter into advanced phase of sport specific training. 2 times a week for 6-8 weeks. While incorporating resistance training (if age appropriate) And/Or participating in a summer league of your specific sport. 
  • 1-2 week break
  • Enter final phase of sport specific training. 1 - 2 times a week for final 8 weeks in till season begins. focusing on specifics of endurance and conditioning to the specific sport.
  • During the season - maintain specific focuses - speed, vertical, swing, shot, etc. 1 time a week in conjunction with game schedule and practice schedule.

*The above mentioned breakdown is assuming your season is 4 months and you are 14 and older. The best thing for those that are under 14 can do in their respective off seasons - is play and compete in other sports. This along will help develop all the functionality and movements of an athlete. You can also work on sport-specific items as well, but only for a limited time 8-10 weeks in your off season. 

What key elements should I look for when searching for sport specific training?

Perhaps, the most important question. First and foremost do your homework on the trainer or trainers. What is their background? You are going to want someone who has an athletic background, preferably advanced level's. Or who has worked with advanced athletes. Did they play sports? This helps if they have played the sport you are looking to specialize your training in, they can relate better and in general no what it is important and what is not.  If so where at and what level? Are they certified trainers? This is a big one, being certified means they have some form of education of the human body and in the realms of the Health and Fitness industry. Just having an ex-athlete simply does not cut it anymore. Having a background and education on the human body and its function is key. What is there education? How long have they been around? Sometimes, you may have to go with a newer program based on location and everyone has to start somewhere. However, if they have been around. Ask around, look at there past clients. See and hear their results. If you are looking for younger athletes. You need to look for a program that is focus on athletic development rather than just sport-specific. You will also want to know if they have specific training programs to ages. As mentioned earlier, younger athletes should be working more on hand-eye coordination, balance, motor skill development. How long is the training they are offering? The duration and frequency is very important. If anything is less then 6 weeks in my opinion it is simply not worth it. Are the programs progressive? Meaning do they advance and build off of each training session? 

There you have it hopefully a guide or at least a better understanding of sport-specific training. Most importantly do your homework on the trainer(s) and business and their background and ask specific questions for each age group and development. Find out if they can specialize to any sport or if it's just general. Better yet find out if they can specialize to specific goals! As always if you have any questions please feel free to contact me at anytime by sending e-Mail at:

In : Health and Fitness blog 

Tags: sport specific training 
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