Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do exercises in the gym transfer skill to the field?

No Sports Specific training here!
While watching the golf tournament this past weekend I saw a commercial where one of the golfers was swinging a medicine ball as if it were a golf club. I couldn't help but say..."Oh geez, now I get to see every Pro and wannabe at the gym swinging medicine balls as if they were golf clubs"! I guess it's only natural to think an exercise that mimics the sport, in this case golf, would help you improve your game. The bigger question is, does skill in the gym transfer to skill on the playing field?

In my experience, "sports specific" exercises like the ones described above actually do more harm than good. The more specific the exercise is to the sport, the more damage you're going to do to your skill. There's a process called motor learning, this is where your brain and body work together to perform a skill. This could be swinging a golf club, shooting a basketball or throwing a football etc. There are very precise motor learning patterns that are involved. If you're not using the exact tool for the job, the body doesn't use the same muscles as it would during your sport.

Bottom line: If you want to improve your game through weight training, build strength and size in the muscles used in your sport by doing high intensity strength training.  Keep in mind safety first, use the highest technology in equipment second, and highest quality of coaching third.  Then go and practice your skill for the sport you play.  Anything else is just a waste of time!