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Sports-Specific Training: Definition, Examples, and Benefits

What is Sports-Specific Training?

Sports-specific training is an approach that improves performance in a specific sport by developing the necessary skills (e.g., throwing a ball) and athletic characteristics (e.g., power). To achieve this, workout plans are tailored to the individual requirements of the sport and the needs of the player. As such, workouts can differ, even between players on the same team.

Examples of Sports-Specific Workouts & Drills


  • Ball control drillsfootball players navigate through cones while dribbling a ball to improve their skills, boost agility, and work on endurance.
  • Shooting practices – players take shots from various distances and angles to improve their accuracy, precision, and power.
  • High-intensity interval training – players combine short bursts of running (including practicing the drive phase) at a high intensity with jogging and walking to develop power and improve their endurance, closely matching the running requirement of competitive games.


  • Ball control and shootingbasketball players perform various dribbling drills and practice shots from different parts of the court to improve their accuracy.
  • Plyometrics – dedicated plyometrics work develops power, allowing athletes to jump higher, accelerate and decelerate, and more safely change direction.
  • Defensive maneuvers – players can practice footwork drills to position themselves, guard their opponents better, and react more effectively to shooting or passing attempts.

Athletes practicing these and many other sports will also benefit from a solid strength training plan to gain muscle and improve force output, stability, strength endurance, and other characteristics contributing to better performance and longevity.

Hevy Coach allows you to easily build workout plans, assign them to dozens of athletes, monitor everyone’s progress through the dashboard, and communicate through the built-in chat.

The Benefits of Sports-Specific Activities

  • Improved sports performance. The biggest benefit of this type of training is that it helps develop the necessary skills, allowing players to perform better and with more confidence.

    This is because workouts often include drills and activities (many of them similar to asymmetrical training practices), making athletes better able to change direction, accelerate, decelerate, and maintain their position during contact.
  • Improved physical conditioning. Thanks to the principle of specificity, sports-specific training forces the body to adapt to the sport’s unique demands, improving athletes’ physical conditioning.

    For instance, while running improves aerobic capacity and helps players in most sports, specific drills, such as alternating between jogging, running, and sprinting, can have a greater carry-over to real-world sports situations.
  • Improved tactical understanding. Similar to how sports-specific practices develop valuable skills and characteristics, they help athletes gain a deeper understanding of their sport, tactics, and the importance of proper positioning.

    The low-stress environment makes it easier for athletes to understand what’s required of them and what they must do to perform at their best.

Sports-Specific vs. Strength & Conditioning vs. Functional Training

All three types of training improve sports performance and contribute to a lower injury risk by developing physical conditioning. However, the three also differ in some ways.

Sports-specific practices focus on the exact needs of the sport and address each player’s unique needs and weaknesses. Strength and conditioning develop a broader fitness base and improve overall fitness, endurance, and strength. Functional training emphasizes strength work that prepares athletes for their sport.


1. At what age should athletes start sport-specific training?

It’s generally best to develop a broad fitness base and try multiple sports (for the sake of variety and to see what the athlete enjoys doing) before getting into more sport-specific training between the ages of 13 and 16.

2. How often should sport-specific workouts last?

A productive, moderately intense session doesn’t need to last longer than 60 to 90 minutes. The ideal duration depends on age, fitness capacity, weekly training frequency, and other factors.

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