What Are You Really Doing?


Is what you are doing making your athletes better or is it just making them tired and predisposing them to injury? I have asked this question numerous times in this blog. I keep asking it because I see more highly specific work being done without the commensurate return in results and an alarming rise in training related or training caused injuries. The current trend is to be more sport specific in training. I get it to a point, but there are definite perils and pitfalls of uber specificity. You must ask yourself if you trying to be too sport specific?

My approach is and has been for many years to train for the demands of the sport and be sport appropriate not sport specific. The actual practice of the sport is specific preparation. Training should be preparation for the demands of the sport. Too much specific work will add stress to stress and lead to injury and stagnation. Soccer right now is a good example with the overemphasis on small-sided games and highly specific preparation. They are adding stress to stress and not preparing for the higher speed demands of the match.

I think of it as a three-part process:

#1 General work that includes a huge dose of athleticism development and has little or no resemblance to the actual sport but serves to establish pristine movement skills to help bullet proof the athlete in the long term. General work is a staple of a sound training program.

#2 Special work that incorporates similar movements and is higher speed and higher force.

#3 This is Specific work that consists of the actual sport and movements of the sport.

This does not mean to imply that there are periods where the emphasis is on just one area. Throughout the training year including during peak competition there must be a careful blend of general, special and specific work based on the status of the athlete. This demands careful record keeping, close monitoring of training and competition. Ultimately it comes down to knowing the athlete and what they need physically, psychologically and emotionally to be at their best.

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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