California Rubber

California’s and Nevada’s Authoritative Voice of Ice and Inline Hockey

From the Trainer’s Room: Sport-specific training – looking at the truths and the myths


cp head shot 2016With sports specialization at a young age becoming the norm, how about the question of sport-specific training?

Social media and marketing suggest that all athletes should train specifically for their sport using cool-looking exercises that mimic specific sports. Are these training programs truly helping your athlete or making matters worse by overtraining the same movements or performing exercises that the athlete is not prepared to do?


I do agree that we need to look at the demands that will be placed on an athlete and devise a program to help meet those demands, but we still need to look at basic movements and flexibility that is required to play sports in general.

We see many “cool” exercises performed by elite athletes that help them become better players, but can your athlete squat correctly, lunge correctly or touch their toes? Do they have the core strength to even hold a proper plank for 30 seconds or the cardio capacity to play a game without getting tired?

Renowned strength coach Mike Boyle notes, “Does a fast baseball player look any different than a fast soccer player? The answer is no.”

Probably the biggest concern I hear from parents is that their kid needs to get from Point A to Point B quicker. Basically, they need to accelerate faster. Improving your first three steps in hockey is no different than soccer, so why do we feel the need to make it more sport specific? Improve their acceleration by improving mechanics, power and strength. These are things ALL athletes need to work on.

The truth in sport-specific training is that we do need to look at the different demands placed on athletes and the injuries that are common in their sport. The myth is that we can not overlook the basics of athleticism, which are flexibility, stability, speed, strength and power.

In many sports, these training programs can be very similar, yet productive even though the sports are different.

Chris Phillips is an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist with over 20 years’ experience in professional hockey, football and soccer. Chris is the owner of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Orange County.

(Feb. 7, 2019)

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