Overload and Specificity are two of the building blocks of any effective strength and conditioning program. In simple terms Overload is an increase or change to the application of stress while Specificity is the applications and coordination of physical abilities to perform a specific sport task. The key to good program design is to understand the interplay between these principles.
Weight training is one of the best tools available to the strength coach when it comes to forcing adaptation. Lifting weights is an unbelievably efficient way to produce overload but is only specific for and will only have direct transfer to sport for weightlifters and power-lifters. If the sport you compete in involves running, jumping, kicking, throwing or catching you must understand that the vast majority of what might be considered “sport specific training” will occur during sport practice, not in the weight room. This is due to the unfortunate fact that the more specific a training stimulus is, the less it can be overloaded. While we are well aware that Overload is what leads to adaptation; and Specificity is what leads to transfer of training; there are several reasons that the combination of the two often proves difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with use of any single means of training.
The involved musculature, necessary rates of force production and energy system requirements of the competition sport are factors that should be present in all forms of training. Specificity beyond that must be included but only where appropriate. It is the responsibility of the strength coach to select training means that can be aggressively overloaded in order to have the greatest impact on the trainable attributes associated with success in the main sport. At the same time, a well-designed training program will include more specific activities including sprint & C.O.D work, plyometrics and most importantly sport practice to allow for a seamless integration of enhanced physical capabilities into improvements in sport skill.