Sports Fitness Training for Peak Performance

Sports fitness training is designed to prepare athletes for the physical demands of competition. Physical fitness for one sport is not exactly the same as for another.

What exactly does it mean when coaches and sport scientists talk about training programs that "match the demands of sports"?

They mean that training activities must closely simulate the specific nature of each athletic contest. For example, training for basketball is very different from training for marathon running because what it takes to be great for each is very different. Intermittent bursts of speed for basketball vs. long-term sustained running tap different energy sources.

The benefits of physical training for athletes include:

*less fatigue and quicker recovery,

*reduced muscle soreness,

*ability to practice longer,

*fewer injuries and faster recover from them, and

*greater confidence.

Sports Fitness Training: Components and Programs

To best match these demands, programs can be built to target fitness components such as muscular strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, muscular endurance, and energy fitness. A well-devised sport-specific program also integrates motor (movement) efficiency to develop coordination--another performance-related component of fitness.

Strength and conditioning programs are developed by manipulating training variables, such as intensity (how hard), duration (how long), recovery (how much rest), volumes, tempo, and many others. Periodized training regimens balance these variables in planned program over the desired length of time with the goal of peak performance when it counts.

Strength-targeted training improves joint stability, increases muscle size, and contributes to power development. Cardio-based programs develop: (a) more efficient use of oxygen, (b) improved use of fat for energy, (c) increased muscle size to exert greater force,(d) improved blood flow, (e) greater lung capacity, (f) increased size of the heart to pump more blood in one stroke, (g) better coordination, and (h) stronger bones, ligaments, and tendons to reduce injuries.

Ideally, there is enough time to develop a periodized program with several phases and cycles that allow more time for the athlete to make substantial improvements. To further boost each athlete's success, individual differences also require appropriate adjustments as the coach identifies the athlete's strengths and areas for improvement.

While a primary focus of any fitness training program is to generate sport-specific changes within the muscles and support systems of athletes, fitness activities should also improve psychological preparation, sport skill development, and other qualities that will transfer to sport performance. After all, if training activities provide a low degree of transfer to performance, valuable workout time is lost.

Transfer of Medicine Ball to Shot put

Related topics that look at the components, activities, and programming of sports fitness training include:

Agility Fitness

Body Coordination

Endurance Fitness

Fitness Components

Physical Demands of Sports

Power Fitness

Strength Fitness

Types of Fitness Training

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Martens, R. (2012). Successful coaching (4th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Sharkey, B. and Glaskill, S. (2006). Sport physiology for coaches. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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