Specificity in Sport


On Saturday at the collegiate swim coaches convention I had a rather long and fruitless discussion on specificity with one of the vendors selling an isokinetic training system. My point was that in swimming or any other sport the highest degree of specificity is the sport itself. You can imitate movements, but similar is not the same. When I divide my work up I think of it in three classifications:

  1. General- No relationship in terms of speed or patterns of movement.
  2. Special- Some relationship in terms of patterns of movement, but not much in terms of speed of movement.
  3. Specific – Very similar in terms of patterns and speed. Looks a lot like the movements we are going to do in the sport.

Over the years I have found it futile to send too much time trying imitate the exact movements of the sport. That is why they practice the sport. It is important to condition for those movements not repeat those movements. I have learned that is import to train across the spectrum from general to specific and to carefully correlate this with what they are doing in the actually practices.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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