Numerous types of fitness training exercises and regimens can improve performance in sports. The correct combination of activities should build the fitness components that are key to high performance in each specific sport.
Short bursts of speed for basketball tap different energy systems than long, sustained marathon running, so the exercises and other variables must be manipulated to fit either type of training.
Here are a few examples of types of training activities that build sport fitness:
Circuits are a great way to build include a broad range of exercise and skills, particularly for large groups of athletes. Circuits feature multiple stations where athletes perform assigned activities for specific periods of time, or until they've completed a set number of repetitions. After finishing at one station, and they rotate to the next.
Intervals involve short bursts of intense activity interspersed with lighter activity or rest periods. For example, athletes may repeat 200-meter sprints with full recovery or specific rest intervals. Intervals are excellent for building speed-endurance for sports where intense activity is separated by brief recovery periods, such as soccer, basketball, and rugby.
Strength training requires athletes to use resistances to build strength, muscular endurance, and size. Barbells, resistance bands, machines, and other types of equipment that offer resistance can build strength--even the athlete's own body weight.
Resisted vs. Assisted speed work involve using either resistances (such as sleds or parachutes) or assistances (downhill running, towing pulleys). This article on
Resisted vs. Assisted Training presents results of a study on both methods of developing speed.
Plyometrics, or bounding exercises, are excellent for building power, reactions, coordination, and explosiveness, as well as the stretch-shortening cycle due to the rapid rebounding after landing. Boxes are sometimes used to capitalize on the effect of gravity, adding more resistance.
Tempo runs require the athlete to maintain a specific pace that is just outside their comfort zone. This running increases the lactate threshold (LT), or the point at which the body fatigues at a certain pace.
Fartlek running, which means "speed play" in Swedish, blends steady-state running with interval training. The variation in speed and intensity stresses both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed varies, at the athlete's will.