Feb 20, 2002

Specificity Part II

February 20 “The principle of specificity states that training/practice must BE SPECIFIC to an intended skill in order for skill improvement—or “carryover” to occur. -Mark Asanovich

Specificity, to StrongerAthletes.com, refers to the following: In order for the athlete to improve a skill such as tackling, he must practice tackling. In order to improve at the skill in volleyball, he/she must practice those skills. This definition of "specificity" is clearly stated in Physiology texts. Yet many coaches still
interpret sport specificity different.

One interpretation, by John Garhammer in his article "Sport-Specific Program Development," states the following: "Free weight resistive exercises in standing postures similar to positions used in one's sport not only involve sport specificity, but can stimulate increases in bone density and strength". He goes on comparing weight room exercises with sport skills, for example, volleyball players would benefit from stiff-leg deadlift or Romanian deadlifts, and barbell bent-over rows because this is similar to a volleyball players defensive receiving position.

StongerAthletes.com would like to point out that he did say that the lifts are similar to the defensive position. Specificity means the activity must be exact not similar. That is why weight room exercises should not be used to simulate sport specific movements. [See Specificity Part I]

Mark Asanovich, Strength Coach for the Tampa Bay Bucs, in his article, "Power/Explosive Training Considerations" relates, “The principle of specificity states that training/practice must BE SPECIFIC to an intended skill in order for skill improvement—or “carryover” to occur. “Specific” means exact or identical, not “similar” or “just like.” Therefore, accelerating a bar from the floor or knee-height-position by a forceful rolling of the hips may somewhat assimilate driving off the line of scrimmage-but the truth of the matter is, Olympic lifting will only improve one’s skills at Olympic lifting – and nothing else.”

However, Garhammer also says, "All these athletes (basketball, football, or soccer players) benefit from the squat to improve straight running and jumping motions. These players in the team sports mentioned should also practice running and agility drills that mimic their mulit-directional movement in competition."

StrongerAthletes.com could not agree more with him on this one, provided that the squats are done with a heavy load to failure. An increase in leg strength and power will help the athlete become a more explosive in running, agility, and actual movements on their sport.

Garhammer also feels that jump squats could be used to increase the speed of joint motion. "Recent experiments have examined strength and power athletes using specialized equipment that mimics a "throwing action” with a barbell. Such studies have indicated that maximal power output in bench press and squat related movements occur at about 55% of the 1 rep max loads in the corresponding lifts performed with a straight barbell.”

StrongerAthletes.com believes using these loads, (55%), will not work the muscle to complete muscular failure. It contradicts the principle of muscle Fiber Recruitment for training for power and explosiveness. Also we believe that using 55% of your 1 rep max will only express power not develop it. [See Expressing vs. Developing Power] Garhammer concluded that sub-maximal loads would be best to use for power development but did state that loads closer to the 1 rep max will increase strength. We feel that is a contradictory statement.

Ken Mannie, Strength Coach at Michigan State University, in his article, “Explosive Weight Training” also explains specificity: “Movement specificity” is a term that has long been misinterpreted by some explosive training proponents. To say that “the snatch and clean are very similar to other athletic movements such as “jumping," is to contradict many of the basic principles of motor learning.”

StrongerAthletes.com believes loads that allow the athlete to perform 6-15 reps to failure will develop strength and thus, power. Strength must first be developed before the athlete can better express power with greater force. [Again, we point you to See Express vs. developing Power] StrongerAthletes.com also maintains heavier loads should be used with controlled movements if the athlete wants to develop power and then they can go to the field and practice their sport skills.

StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Manual

We are proud to present, a brief but complete strength training manual for use by athletes, coaches, and strength training instructors. The manual covers the fundamentals of safe, efficient, and productive strength training techniques. The coach will find many coaching points and tips to assist in implementing the StrongerAthlete.com philosophy into training sessions or classes..

2002 National Strength & Science Seminar


StrongerAthletes.com is pleased to announce the 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar which will be held March 16 at Blaine High School in Blaine, Minnesota. The mission of the seminar is "To Educate Coaches and Exercise Science/Sport Medicine Professionals Concerning a Practical/Scientific Approach to Strength Training and Fitness."

You will find "valuable information from world-renown professionals across the country, practical ideas and handouts giving you information needed for your situation, and answers to your questions regarding coaching and all aspects of exercise science." Speakers include:

Luke Carlson-Strength Coach Blaine H.S.
Matt Brzycki-Coordinator of Recreational Fitness and Wellness, Programming Princeton University
Steve Wetzel
-Strength Coach MN Vikings
Ryan Carlson-Strength Coach Chaska H.S.
Scott Savor- Strength Coach Shakopee H.S.
Steve Ritz-Owner/Operator Fitness First
Dr. James Peterson-Ph.D., Sports Medicine Consultant
Dr. Arthur Leon-M.D. , Cardiologist, Kinesiology Professor Univ. of Minnesota
John Thomas- Strength Coach, Penn State University

Scott Savor tells StrongerAthlete.com, "We are having some of the best professionals in the nation speaking and are expecting approximately 400 people in attendance. Until now there has been nothing like it." If you have any further questions about the 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar we encourage you to contact Scott Savor at scottsavor@hotmail.com.

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