Sport Specific Training vs General Sport Training

Sport Specific Training vs General Sport Training, December 2021

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Hey guys, today we are going to be talking about sports specific training and how it compares to regular sports training. While they are both similar there are a few key differences between the two that I am going to talk about and address.

Before I even start talking about the training methods, I do want to mention that both forms of training are still great to work on and practice.

While one might be more efficient than the other, it’s better to at least have some form of workout than nothing at all. Let’s jump in and start talking about sports specific training and what exactly it entails.

Sports Specific Training

A man in white shirt and blue shorts dribbling two basketballs  with each hand

As you might have guessed, sports specific training is all about drills and workouts that are directly catered to the sport that you are planning on playing.

Are you a basketball player?

Your training might include you sprinting up and down the court while dribbling or working some handles into your every day workouts.

The main goal of sports specific training is to get you to improve at the sport you are playing.

This makes sense if you are an athlete who is focused around one sport as you do want to maximize your time, especially with workouts.

The one drawback to sports specific training however is that you aren’t just focusing on your body and overall getting a stronger body.

Sports specific training will only take you so far if you are planning to be an athlete in any competitive sense.

You are still going to have to lift weights, do cardio, and work on your overall mobility if you are going to want to find some success in the sport that you are playing. You might have all the skills in the world but that doesn’t matter in any way if you aren’t improving the rest of your body.

The other thing to mention regarding sports specific training is the injuries that can occur. I’ll talk about basketball here once again as there are a ton of knee injuries that occur. 

If you watch the NBA, you’ll see multiple star athletes go down with torn ACLs and be out for the rest of the year.

While these guys definitely have sports specific training, they definitely do other things outside of the sport. Despite all of the work they put in on their body, they are still getting hurt.

Now, take a look at yourself and the workouts that you do. If you are only doing sports specific training, you are going to be putting a ton of strain on your body, which in turn can result in an injury.

If NBA athletes are getting injured while doing everything they should to keep their body working properly, just think about the strain you are putting on your body.

Take sprints or rapid movement changes when doing a dribbling drill in basketball.

All that lateral movement is intensive on your knees and will degrade it over time.

All it takes is your knee to give out once and you are looking at a torn ACL.

This is the major downside of sports specific training as it doesn’t work on improving your wellness.

 I’ve seen my fair share of people get injured during sports and most of it's because they didn’t take the time to look out for themselves or their body.

It might seem like a waste of time to you to exercise and train outside of your sport, but it is absolutely mandatory, especially if you want to stay healthy. That means getting yourself to the gym and pushing yourself to be better.

General Sports Training

Two men playing basketball under the sun

General sports training is not just about improving at one sport, but instead improving your body, and thus gaining improvements that can be utilized in many different sports.

If you are having trouble determining the difference, think of specific sports training as drills and general sports training as conditioning.

No matter what sport you are playing, you are going to need to have speed to succeed and get better. 

If you do general sports training and work on improving speed, it will translate over to multiple sports and you will definitely get better at many of them.

Overall, general sports training can be broken down into several areas that I am going to talk about now:

Weight Training

A woman wearing workout clothes weightlifting

Every muscle in your body needs to be strong to support the rapid movements that you are going to be making.

The stronger your muscles are, the less likely you are to get an injury.

Therefore, you should be training every part of your body, especially high-risk areas such as the knees and ankles.

Aside from avoiding injury, weight training is also going to make you a much stronger and better athlete. You can be an absolute wall on defence in basketball, block and stop people in football, and fight through contact in hockey.

There is not a single sport out there where you will not benefit from some strength training.


A woman working out using treadmill

Once again, this is pretty self explanatory. Cardio is all about endurance and stamina and how long you can push yourself without exhausting all of your energy.

All that skill doesn’t matter if you never have the energy to use it. 

The best athletes are not only the ones who make an immediate impact on the field, but can stay out there for a while wreaking havoc for the other team.

If you can only terrorize a team for 30 seconds, you aren’t going to be able to help your team.

Flexibility and Body Composition

A woman doing yoga by herself with a big purple workout ball

When people talk about sports training, flexibility and body composition is something most people don’t think about.

In reality, flexibility is extremely important if you want to succeed in just about any sport.

Take baseball for example, a sport that people consider to be the most unathletic one out there. 

You have to have complete control of your muscles and body if you want to hit that ball far.

It’s all about having stability in certain areas of your body, and flexibility in others. This results in proper energy transfer so you can launch a ball out of the park.

Flexibility can also help reduce injuries as your body can react and move more when it goes through contact. That’s not to say you are going to be saved from a major injury, but it can reduce the severity of it and help you get things back on track.

So, What’s Better?

A woman working out in an empty gym

If you only had the time and energy to focus on one type of training, I would definitely say work on general sports training. Improving your body and your natural athletic ability is much more important to your health and wellbeing in the long run.

That is not to say that specific sports training is not worth it. It obviously is completely necessary for taking your skills to the next level, however it isn’t nearly as efficient when it comes to gaining muscle, losing weight, and building strength.

In an ideal world, you would be doing both of these workouts in a single day and that is what most professional athletes are doing. They take the time to put in their time on the court, but then make sure they get their reps and sets in at the gym.

If you don’t believe me, go look at any professional athlete and look at their training regiment. It’s extremely strict and you’ll find that everything is managed in their day, including what they eat.

Now, you’re probably sitting there saying, “well I’m not a professional athlete”. There’s nothing wrong with that and doing both workouts doesn’t mean you have to commit your life to sports.

If you aspire to be the best version of you, you can possibly be, then you should be looking to improve in the sport itself and with your own natural abilities.

Final Thoughts

To sum things up nicely, if you only have time for one workout, I’d say stick with general sports workouts as they are going to help your athletic ability and reduce your risk of injury.

If you do have some extra time, throw in some drills so you can up your skills as well. Sports specific training isn’t bad by any means, it just isn’t as efficient as general sports training most of the time.

When it comes to sports, I find the most important thing is injury prevention and you can get that through general sports training.

Denver Matheson

I spend a lot of time at the gym and even more time in the kitchen giving my body what it needs to repair itself and grow stronger. The third most important place for any athlete is their research zone. That's exactly why this site exists, to help me share all of the information I've learned throughout the years just like people did for me in the first place!

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