Jan 29, 2015
Majoring in General Studies

By Vern Gambetta

We certainly live in an age of specialization in all fields of endeavor. I would argue that as a strength and conditioning coach, specialization is a negative, not a positive trend.

As I look back at the coaches who have mentored me and great coaches I been around during my career, I see that they were all generalists. Even though they were very successful in their chosen sport and discipline within the sport, most coached multiple sports or areas at a very high level.

The trend toward specialization has stifled development and innovation, not enhanced it. Look outside your sport or specialization for ideas and inspiration. If you are a swimming coach, talk to the track coaches; if you are a throws coach in track and field, go talk to the gymnastics coach.

All of us should look at martial arts for concepts regarding attention, focus, and body control. Athletic development coaches should go to dance instructors to learn rhythm and tempo. I am a big believer in going outside the world of sports for ideas. I often look at art, architecture, design, music, and film.

Some of my best ideas on long term planning and project development have come from reading about and talking to people in business. Creativity transcends disciplines.

There is so much to be learned if you get outside your narrow area of specialization. Challenge yourself by exposing yourself to different ideas and approaches; believe me, it will open up a whole new world for you.

Specialize in being a generalist; there will never be a dull moment. You will make connections and see things you never thought existed.

Vern Gambetta, MA, is President of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fla. The former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox, he has also worked extensively with basketball, soccer, and track and field athletes. He is a frequent contributor to Training & Conditioning. Vern also maintains his own blog.

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