Wednesday, September 28, 2011

GPP or SPP in TSP (Team Sport Preparation)?

It goes without saying that what's done in training must have a specific purpose or it shouldn't be in the plan. In team sports this can be a fairly difficult assessment to make as to what is truly going to affect performance. Does increasing linear speed improve a basketball player? Does improving vertical jump improve the ability of a volleyball player? Does improving the back squat make a football player better? These are objective and common measures or assessments of general athletic performance.

The questions are endless, and within team sports, the answers are almost always; "it depends."

I think it's important to make logical decisions regarding training, but as of now the potential variables to improve upon could be considered close to infinite. In 'strength and conditioning' my responsibility and the athletes responsibility is the necessity to, number one, become a better athlete, in becoming generally stronger, generally faster, generally jump higher, become generally more mobile and coordinated, and improve general work capacity. What this is most often called in technical coaching speak is GPP (general physical preparation). How much GPP is necessary is the ultimate question, and in the collegiate setting how much time is needed with GPP? When are athletes generally physically prepared? In team sports, how much specific physical preparation is necessary when the athlete spends a large amount of time in specific technical and tactical practice of their sport? From a strength and conditioning perspective with regards to team sports, what exactly is specific physical preparation?

From what I see, often incoming athletes, freshmen, and even sophomores, sometime juniors are generally not strong enough, generally not fast enough, generally don't jump high enough, generally do not display enough flexibility, and/or usually don't have the general work capacity for the overall demands of collegiate practice and competition. Without a high level of generalities, the specificities become even more of a challenge to achieve; and again I ask, what are the specifics?

Really, in strength and conditioning, athletes need to run fast, jump high, throw far, and lift heavy weights as fast as possible through full ranges of motion; this takes care of a high percentage of the necessary means to fulfill the time-limited objectives of training.

Is a 145 kg front squat with great technique necessary for all male athletes? No, but it sure as hell doesn't hurt.

Is a 25 inch vertical necessary for all female athletes? No, but it sure as hell wouldn't hurt.

Are 10 strict chin-ups necessary for female athletes? No, but it sure as hell doesn't hurt.

Does a 4.4 40 yard dash guarantee sporting success? No, but it sure as hell doesn't inhibit it.

Now, could there potentially be better qualities, specific ones, to spend time and energy to improve? Yes, but at some point the generals may limit the specifics. And what qualities might we improve that we could quantify to be sure we are not fooling ourselves?

There really isn't a good/perfect answer, but what seems certain is we need to put the "strength" back in strength and conditioning, and the "athletic" back in athletic development; neither of those spell specificity... specificity does not need to mean exact. Specificity maintains that at least one or more biomotor quality has some similarity task being trained for. What's usually necessary is becoming very proficient at the generals. which most coaches have narrowed down to work being more "functional" towards the desired outcome(s); the basics... being fundamentally great and athletically developed.


1. physically active and strong; good at athletics or sports: an athletic child.

2. of, like, or befitting an athlete.

3. of or pertaining to athletes; involving the use of physical skills or capabilities, as strength, agility, or stamina: athletic sports; athletic training.

4. for athletics: an athletic field.

5. Psychology . (of a physical type) having a sturdy build or well-proportioned body structure. Compare asthenic ( def. 2 ) , pyknic ( def. 1 ) .


Kevin Rudolphi said...

Great post Coach!

Josh Leeger said...

Right on Aaron!

I personally believe that the "specificity" is for the field.

As anything I've ever read by Charlie Francis says - fast sprinters get fast by sprinting fast, not by weight-training.

Note the recent JSCOR article showed an increase in sprint performance in the bodyweight sprint-group, and not in the 'chute or sled-resistance categories.

I don't get how this is a surprise. How many studies do we have to see that show that weighted (or otherwise resisted) skill-exercises don't improve skill-performance? I wish we'd all seen enough of those to get the point.

Weight training ("GPP," "SPP" or whatever) should increase "general" strength (along with tissue quality, resilience, etc.), which then is applied/integrated in and through skills-practice.

Breaking things down ad-nauseum into more and more "specific" exercises doesn't seem to make much difference.

Periodize to your heart's content. The person who has the guts to go out there every day and beat his own personal best will beat one who won't. (And it's still called "progressive resistance").

We know this, we've known it for a long time, but for some reason we just don't want to admit it -

Success comes from intense, hard, difficult, progressive practice at the specific skill you want to experience success in.

That's the specificity I think that an athlete should seek.

Aaron Schwenzfeier said...

Thanks Kevin!

Aaron Schwenzfeier said...

Great points Josh!

"Weight training ("GPP," "SPP" or whatever) should increase "general" strength (along with tissue quality, resilience, etc.), which then is applied/integrated in and through skills-practice."

... that's what is often forgotten.