Dean, W. P., Nishihara, M., Romer, J., Murphy, K. S., & Mannix, E. T. (1998). Efficacy of a 4-week supervised training program in improving components of athletic performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 12, 238-242.

Young people (M = 94; F = 45) participated in a multi-capacity training session for 90 minutes, two times per week, for four weeks (eight sessions in total). Changes in performance tests were evaluated.

The training consisted of warm-up and stretching (10 min), running form drills (15 min), plyometric drills (15 min), lateral movement drills (10 min), lower back and abdominal strength exercises (5 min), and cool down and stretching (10 min). Changes in performance were assessed before and after the training period on the following activities: 20-yd dash (velocity and acceleration), a hexagon drill (foot quickness, coordination, and dynamic balance), spider test (speed and agility), sideways shuffle drill (lateral movement and coordination), and vertical jump (explosive power generation). All Ss and both gender-subgroups improved in all tested items.

There are two major concerns with this study. First, the tested items are described as using "capacities," descriptions of performance characteristics of human movement. Although there was considerable interest in the late 1950s and early 1960s in describing performance capacities, those that were published in the refereed literature depended upon the author of the research. There is no valid consensus on what are the capacities of human performance. The descriptive labels here appear to be those that are commonly and conveniently used in the strength and conditioning occupations. This signals that the design and discussion of this article might be other than objectively scientific. Second, the inference of the article is one that does not entertain the principle of specificity, including both motor-learning and physiological specificity.

It is known that among untrained individuals, and in particular young people, that general training produces improvements in any physical performance aspect up to a certain point. That changes in this study occurred after only eight exposures across four weeks, which in itself is low-volume and low-quality training, suggests that the performance standards of the Ss were particularly low at the beginning of the study. Any performance change reflects a general performance stimulation in untrained individuals.

It would be wrong to assert that general training programs of this nature improve performance in competent or elite athletes. With those individuals, the principle of specificity is paramount and performance changes are largely influenced by the amount of specific neuromuscular training experienced.

Implication. When untrained young people experience challenging physical stimulation of a general nature, performances improve on a variety of movement tests.

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