In my 44 years of coaching I have gone back and forth in regard to specificity. At times I have tried to make training as specific as possible going to ridiculous lengths to simulate the sport. At other times it was not even a consideration, we just trained with no regard to whether or not it had any resemblance to the sport. Obviously those are the extremes. With accumulation of experiences and better understanding of the whole process of training I have come to a more moderate and I must say sane approach.
First of all instead of thinking specific my key word is to think appropriate. Are the training means and methods appropriate for the sport you are preparing for? What you are doing must prepare the athlete neurally, metabolically, mechanically and technically for the demands of their sport. Perhaps the biggest realization that I have come to and the one that has made the biggest difference for me is really quite simple – Instead of repeating the movements of the sport prepare for the stress of the movements. In other words I found that by trying to be too specific I was adding stress to stress instead of preparing the athlete for the stress of the sport. Remember the most specific training activity is the sport itself. Just think of the hours of training in the actual sport versus the time spent in physical preparation. The latter almost pales into insignificance. So why take that relatively small amount of training time available trying to strictly imitate the sport when that valuable time should be spent preparing them for the stress of the actual training and competition. This does not mean to imply that training should be just general it must be sport appropriate. Leave no stone unturned in the preparation. Address the individual needs of the athlete in regard to their sport. Look closely at the sports demands and prepare for those demands.