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Training Specificity

Definition: Specificity is the principle of training that states that sports training should be relevant and appropriate to the sport for which the individual is training in order to produce a training effect.

     The Specificity Principle simply states that training must go from highly general training to highly specific training. The principle of Specificity also implies that to become better at a particular exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill. To be a good cyclist, you must cycle. The point to take away is that a runner should train by running and a swimmer should train by swimming.

     It is the application of the principle of specificity that underlies the development of effective fitness training programs for the different figure skating disciplines. Specificity also is the driving force of how figure skaters learn the basic motor skills. Unfortunately, the principle is sometimes misinterpreted.

Specificity and Sports Fitness
     Specificity is described as the type of changes a skater's body makes in response to their training.  The concept is very simply, the product of the training can only produce as much quality and quantity as the skater is willing to expend!

     A training program must be more than a skater mindlessly performs activities to prepare only for the specific requirements of the next test or competition. There must be an effort to consistently work on the basics that take time to master and whose expectations increase with each test level. With time and regular practice, a skater's body becomes better able to meet the increasing demands of figure skating as it adapts to the changing rules of the ISU.

     Adaptations to training are most evident in elite athletes. For example, the effects of years of rigorous training clearly distinguish differences in bodies of single and pair skaters from dancers, synchro skaters.

     Dancing places major demands of sustained training because they must training to perform in three events. Free skating and pair skaters also have very physically demanding activities that result in a larger, stronger heart and increased blood vessels to supply oxygen to the specific muscles involved in jumping, spinning, and lifting (pairs only). In contrast, in contrast the synchro skater has maximized their ability to perform edges and turns with power in very precise formations in complete unison. A small mistake by one skater can cause a cascade of errors from which recovery is impossible.

     There is one principle that should be applied to a figure skating fitness training program -  all beginning through intermediate levels of skaters should participate in a basic fitness components designed to develop core body strength, power/speed, endurance, and flexibility to establish a strong foundation prior to expending long hours in the pursuit of one discipline of figure skating exclusively.  All skaters should pass  Pre-pre to Senior MITF, Pre-pre to Intermediate Free Skating, and Pre to Pre-Silver compulsory dance test as the skills are directly transferable.

Specificity and Motor Skill Learning
     Most sports have very specific motor skills that are unique to each sport.  Athletes in all competitive sports require the discipline to execute skills as they make split second adjustments in response to competitive situations.

     The concept of specificity involves learning and performing a variety of closely related movements. Rather than practicing and perfecting any single skill or movement in isolation, the specificity of skill learning requires an athlete to master the basic skill prior to attempting to develop variations on the skills.

     There is a clear and measurable effect from practicing skills with out variation because the beginner is just beginning to understand the concept and motor skill required in the cognitive or mental stage. As learners progress, adding a variation of a basic skill to practice keeps the skater energized in preparation for more demanding levels of competition.
Recommended Reading:
  • PDF Socalizing the Knowledge Transfer Problem  A central issue in acquiring knowledge is its appropriate transfer beyond the contexts and contents of first acquisition. In contrast to dominant "common elements" transfer theory, an inrerpretive perspective is developed, according to which "appropriate transfer" is a concept socioculturally rather than objectively defined.
  • PDF Cognitive Skill Acquisition  Review of research conducted in the past ten years on cognitive skill acquisition. It covers the initial stages of acquiring a single principle or rule, the initial stages of acquiring a collection of interacting pieces of knowledge, and the final stages of acquiring a skill, wherein practice causes increases in speed and accuracy.
  • PDF EFF Research Principle: A Contextualized Approach Research on the transfer of learning. teachers starts with real-life contexts and is weaved into all stages of every teaching and learning process. Instruction and assessment are aimed directly at the skills and knowledge adults need to perform tasks they have identified as important and meaningful to them. The focus is on the application rather than on the possession of basic skills and knowledge.
  • Specificity of Training  Volume 1(2): January, 1996. SPECIFICITY OF TRAINING. This edition of Coaching Science Abstracts reviews articles concerned with the Principle of Specificity.
References:
  • Specificity | Fitness and Health Nov 28, 2006 ... Specificity states that your training should move from general to highly specific training. It also dictates that in order to improve a particular skill.
  • PDF Focusing on Specificity Training  Focusing on Specificity Training ·.Written by NFPT Staff Writer Friday, 03 February 2012 00:00. The personal trainer will encounter athletes of all stripes.
  
Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Principles of Athletic Training:

   
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