The Specificity Trap


As an Athletic Development coach you should beware of overdoing specificity; it can be a trap, a one-way dead end street. You may be just adding stress to stress by too closely trying to overload the actual movements of the sport. You can get too specific and lose sight of what you are doing. My role as an Athletic Development coach is to prepare the athlete for the stress of their sport; I can do that in many ways without strictly trying to imitate the movements of the sport throughout training. They get enough of that in practice. There are times in a program to get very specific and other times to be very general. My basic litmus test is this: are the movements that I use in training sport appropriate? I look at it as a three-step process.

  • Step one- the sport itself, that is the domain of the sport coach, although they may enlist my help here.
  • Step Two- Stuff that looks like the sport but is not the sport, I do some of this.
  • Step Three- Stuff that does not have any resemblance to the sport but that will prepare the athlete for the demands of the sport.

Then distribute the work and the emphasis in training accordingly. It is simple and it seems to work. Remember I am simplifier not a complexifier

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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