The phrase “sports performance training” is being used more and more among athletes and coaches. While it might seem like just another way to describe working out, there’s actually more to it than that.
In this post we cover everything you need to know about sports performance training (from the definition to the benefits). By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll understand what makes it so powerful, and why you should start doing it ASAP.
In the sports world, there's a lot of focus on improving general fitness and performing drills to simulate plays on the field. While those facets are certainly important, sports performance training can push athletes to the next level while also providing plenty of room to grow.
This specialized form of training is meant to enhance your overall athleticism and prepare you for the challenges that your sport presents. It's all about conditioning your body for the activities you'll be doing on the playing field.
The great thing about sports performance training is that it's catered to your specific needs. One problem that many athletes face at some point in their playing career is that their skills plateau. This is especially true among younger athletes. These young sports enthusiasts will spend several years pushing their bodies to the limit in an attempt to become the strongest, fastest, and best-performing player on the field.
Unfortunately, going that route leaves very little room for continued development. It essentially stunts their progress. While those athletes may see some success with their chosen sport, much of the training they do to get to that point is geared toward general fitness levels rather than improved performance.
With sports performance training, you're preparing your body to succeed in a specific competitive environment. Of course, good overall fitness is important for athletes. However, all sports are unique. Even within the same sport, you have different positions that require contrasting skills to succeed.
Therein lies the problem with basic fitness training. For example, there’s no point spending the majority of your time building muscle mass if the most important skill for your sport is agility or speed.
Sports performance training routines are designed to improve your overall athleticism while preparing you for your sport. Many trainers will create routines that emulate the movements you'll do during a game. Whether your sport requires good agility, impressive coordination, or brute strength, your performance training regime will include exercises to help you see improvements in those key areas.
Sports performance training is also highly customized. Not just to your sport, but also to you as a person. Good trainers will spend time understanding your current abilities and fitness levels. They'll consider your age, gender, and more to create a personalized plan that will benefit you on and off the field.
This high level of customization can prove to be beneficial in the long run. Trainers will continue to adapt to the training regime as your skills change. This presents a constant challenge to athletes and avoids the dreaded plateau effect.
The biggest difference is in the name. Sports performance training is geared toward motions and exercises that directly translate to actions on the field. It’s hyper-focused.
Your performance capabilities are the foundation of your skills on the field. Good fitness levels and game knowledge are obviously incredibly important. But, what good will they do if your body is not prepared to go through the specific motions that your sport requires?
There are a few different areas that sports performance training focuses on. These include your strength, power, coordination, balance, speed, and more. All of these areas are crucial in any sport. The issue with traditional training is that routines often have a very narrow approach to addressing those areas.
For example, say that you are a lacrosse player who wants to improve your shooting power. In traditional training, coaches may have you perform shooting motions with resistance bands or a weighted stick. The thought is that the extra weight will develop more strength as you're going through the motions. It's not uncommon to see players spending hours just making practice swings.
While it may seem effective, you're just teaching yourself to play with a different stick. It doesn't address the root of the problem. To make matters worse, it can throw off your shooting mechanics and mess with your stick sensitivity. Ultimately, this kind of training can actually hurt your performance once you go back to your normal stick.
Sports performance training would address this problem by focusing on strength training and coordination. The goal would be to condition your body so that you can achieve more power during a swing. Coaches would work on correcting your technique and develop exercises that can help you see improvement in that particular area.
The great thing about sports performance training is that you're working on enhancing key athletic characteristics rather than simply going through the motions. Participating in sports is more complex than what many people give it credit for. It's not about being the strongest or most fit. To have a competitive edge, you must improve your overall athleticism and strengthen key performance areas.
Aside from desired improvements on the field, there are a number of additional benefits that sports performance training can bring to an athlete. These are benefits that a lot of people don’t consider at first, so it’s worth exploring them one by one.
One of the most underappreciated benefits of sports performance training is a lower chance of getting injured. Injuries are very common, even in youth sports. Torn ligaments, muscle pain, and damage to connective tissue happen all the time.
In many cases, these injuries are a direct result of poor training protocols. You see, general fitness training doesn't put any stress on those important ligaments and tendons. Sure, you may be strengthening your muscles and improving your endurance. But that won't make any difference when you're suddenly faced with a complex maneuver on the playing field.
All it takes is one incorrect move to cause a tendon to snap. For example, torn ACLs are one of the most common injuries in fast-paced sports. An awkward rebound or twist of the leg puts extreme stress on this delicate tendon, causing it to tear and give out.
With performance training, you're doing all of those complex maneuvers regularly. Whether you're doing sprints, lunges, or making your way through an agility course, your body is performing smart resistance training. This helps to strengthen the ligaments and tendon, reducing the chances of injury during a game.
Plus, you're improving your overall agility, flexibility, and motor control. By participating in similar movements during your regular training, your body is better prepared to support your maneuvers in a game setting.
Another benefit of sports performance training is that it quickly exposes your weaknesses. Thanks to the fast-paced nature of competitive sports, it's easy to overlook areas that need improvement. As a result, many athletes will just ignore the issue or blame an undesirable outcome on a bad play.
Because performance training is focused on performance and athleticism, trainers can find areas that need to be improved on. Whether it's poor hand-eye coordination or a weak jump, this type of training can highlight that problem. Coaches can then develop a training routine that addresses the issue. You can incorporate focus exercises to strengthen those weak skills. This will result in a noticeable improvement in your technique and overall performance.
Sports performance training can also provide athletes with mental and emotional benefits. On the mental front, performance training is great for strengthening your mind-body connection. As you probably know, all sports require extreme mental coordination. You have to understand your surroundings, make decisions, and react. All of this happens in an instant.
When you're just focusing your training on general fitness or going through plays, you're not challenging your mind nearly as much. Performance-based exercises force you to think and synchronize complex movements to reach the desired outcome. This doesn't just improve your coordination and reaction times. It can also teach you how to perform moves more efficiently.
That’s what makes using Reflexion so powerful. It allows you to train and improve your cognitive performance in ways that are tailored to your specific sport. This kind of sports performance training is rapidly growing in popularity due to the massive improvements athletes are seeing as a result.
Many trainers will attest to the emotional benefits that performance training will provide. It can help you gain more love for the sport that you play. Many younger athletes give up on their sport after a few years because they're not seeing the progress they want. This is especially true if the player felt that they have reached their peak. What's the point in continuing if you're not improving?
Because performance training is catered to your unique needs, your routines will continue to grow with you. You can adapt your program to address new challenges and push your abilities even further. Like we mentioned earlier, the best trainers take several factors into account when they're developing a program. As you get older and your fitness levels change, so does your training program.
Many athletes experience a significant sense of accomplishment with performance training. They get to watch themselves improve and track changes in their abilities as they progress. You'll be able to reap the benefits of your training, which will help you fall deeper in love with your sport.
As you can see, sports performance training is an incredibly powerful approach that all of the top athletes and coaches are using. The wide range of benefits and engaging approach make it a sticky methodology that athletes love.
If you’re interested in learning about how Reflexion can help you implement smarter sports performance training from a cognitive standpoint, head over to this page and get in touch.
Reflexion is not intended to diagnose, treat, or mitigate any disease or condition. It is not intended for use in treating concussions and other brain injuries and has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for such uses.