Stop trying To Replicate Your Sport In The Gym

There’s a big craze of internet gurus performing ‘sports-specific’ drills online. People believe that you should just mimic the actions you see in competition, on the gym floor. They tend to think – “if I just perform this skill in the gym (golf swing, boxing punch, footy kick…) and add resistance to it, then that must be good, right?” This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Here’s why ‘sports-specific’ movements in the gym are a bad idea…

Sports skills are motor skills that require years and years of patterning and perfecting. Every time you do a rep and perform a skill, you’re sending a message to your body to do it ‘this way’. Each rep is a new chunk of information that the body throws in the memory bank and says “Oh… so this is how you do it!”

If you perform the skill proficiently (with great technique), you get better at that skill.

Take the golf swing for example. It’s such a technical movement requiring the consequential recruitment of basically every muscle group from the feet all the way up through the legs, hips, midline, shoulders, arms and even the fingers. In the golf swing millimetres matter! A tiny change in your swing technique could mean making the fairway or finding yourself out of bounds.

Now if you follow the ‘sport-specific’ craze, you’d be tempted to go in the gym, set-up some sort of crazy contraption with bands and try to replicate the golf swing. Well guess what? That new swing isn’t even close to the one you’re performing on the course. Yeah, it might look similar… but the body is now learning to perform the skill in a much different way than it would with a regular club and ball.

golfer sports-specific drills general physical preparedness
Sports specific training vs general physical prepareness

By loading sports skills up with resistance, you’re teaching your body to move in a new way over and over again. You’re sending a new message to your brain each time – “Oh… so this is how you do it!”