Sports Training Guide: Goals, Tools, and Methods

sports training

Sports training is the term that every athlete faces daily. But what are the main types, goals, objectives, means, and methods of this training? How does professional sports performance training takes place?

See all the answers below!

Sports Training Goal

The goal is to achieve the highest possible level of technical-tactical, physical and mental readiness for a given individual, given the sport’s specifics and the requirements for achieving the highest possible results in competitive activity.

Main Sports Training Tasks

  • mastering the technique and tactics of the chosen sport;
  • ensuring the necessary level of development of motor qualities, the capabilities of the functional systems of the body, which carry the main load in this sport;
  • education of proper moral and volitional qualities;
  • ensuring the required level of special mental readiness;
  • acquisition of theoretical knowledge and practical experience necessary for successful training and competitive activity;
  • complex improvement and the manifestation of various sides of an athlete’s readiness in competitive activity.

Main Aspects (Directions/Types) of Sports Training

sport train

These tasks in the most general form, determine the main aspects (directions) of sports training, which have independent characteristics:

  • technical, 
  • tactical, 
  • physical, 
  • psychological,
  • integral. 

Specific training tasks follow from the content of each of these sides.

Technical Improvement

In the field of technical improvement, such tasks are:

  • creating the necessary ideas about sports technique, 
  • mastering the necessary skills and abilities, 
  • improving sports technique by changing its dynamic and kinematic parameters, 
  • mastering new techniques and elements, 
  • ensuring the variability of sports technique, its adequacy to the conditions of competitive activity and the athlete’s functional capabilities, 
  • ensuring the stability of the main characteristics of the technique to the action of confounding factors.

Tactical Improvement

The tactical improvement involves analyzing the features of the upcoming competitions, the opponents’ composition, and the development of optimal tactics for the upcoming competitions.

At the same time, it is necessary to constantly improve the tactical schemes most acceptable for a particular athlete, work out the optimal options in training conditions by modeling the features of the upcoming competitions, and the athlete’s functional state characteristic of competitive activity.

It is also necessary to ensure the variability of tactical decisions depending on the situations that have arisen, to acquire special knowledge in the field of technology and sports tactics.

Physical Training


In the process of physical training, an athlete needs to increase the level of capabilities of functional systems that provide a high level of general and special training. Also, they need to develop motor qualities – strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, coordination abilities, as well as the ability to manifest physical qualities in conditions of competitive activity, their “conjugate” improvement and manifestation.

Psychological Training

In the process of psychological training, the moral and volitional qualities and special mental functions of an athlete, the ability to manage their mental state during training and competitive activity are brought up and improved.

Integral Training

A separate group of tasks is associated with integration, that is, combining into a single whole of qualities, abilities, skills, accumulated knowledge and experience, mainly related to various aspects of preparedness, which is achieved in the process of integral training.

Sports Training Types Takeaway
sports performance training

Dividing the training process into relatively independent sides (technical, tactical, physical, psychological, integral) streamlines the ideas about the components of sportsmanship, allows to a certain extent to systematize the means and methods of their improvement, the system of control and management of the process of sports improvement.

Simultaneously, in training and, especially, competitive activity, none of these sides is manifested in isolation; they are combined into a complex aimed at achieving the highest sports performance.

The degree of inclusion of various elements in such a complex, their interconnection and interaction are determined by the regularities of the formation of functional systems, aimed at the final result, specific for each sport and the component of training or competitive activity.

It should be borne in mind that each side of preparedness depends on the degree of perfection of its other sides, is determined by them and determines their level.

For example, an athlete’s technical improvement depends on the level of development of various motor qualities – strength, speed, flexibility, coordination abilities.

The level of manifestation of motor qualities, particularly endurance, is closely related to the efficiency of the technique, the level of mental resistance to overcoming fatigue, and the ability to implement a rational tactical scheme of competitive wrestling in difficult conditions.

On the other hand, tactical readiness is associated not only with the athlete’s ability to perceive and promptly process information, the ability to draw up a rational tactical plan and find effective ways to solve motor problems, depending on the current situation. Still, it is also determined by the level of technical skill, functional readiness, courage, determination, dedication, etc.

The tasks arising in the process of sports training are concretized concerning homogeneous groups of athletes, teams, individual athletes, taking into account the stage of long-term training, the type of training, the level of sportsmanship, the state of health, fitness and other reasons.

Sports Training Means/Tools

d1 sports training

Means/tools of sports training include a variety of physical exercises, directly or indirectly affecting the improvement of athletes’ skills. The composition of the sports training tools is formed, taking into account the characteristics of a particular sport, which is the subject of sports specialization.

Physical Exercises

Sports training means – physical exercises – can be conditionally divided into four groups:

  1. general preparatory,
  2. auxiliary,
  3. special preparatory,
  4. competitive.
General Preparatory Exercises

General preparatory exercises include exercises that serve the comprehensive functional development of the athlete’s body. They can both correspond to the peculiarities of the chosen kind of sport and be in a certain contradiction with them (when solving the problems of comprehensive and harmonious physical education).

Auxiliary (Semi-Special) Exercises

Auxiliary (semi-special) exercises involve motor actions, which create a special foundation for further improvement in a particular sports activity.

Special Preparatory Exercises
gym freak

Special preparatory exercises occupy a central place in the training system of qualified athletes. They cover a range of means, including elements of competitive activity and actions that are close to them in form, structure, and the manifested qualities and activity of the body’s functional systems.

Competitive Exercises

These exercises involve implementing a complex of motor actions, which are the subject of sports specialization, following the existing rules of competition.

Several features characterize competitive exercises:

  • First, high and record results are achieved when they are implemented; the maximum level of the athlete’s adaptive capabilities is determined, which they achieve as a result of the use of general preparatory, auxiliary and special preparatory exercises in his training.
  • Secondly, the competitive exercises per se can be considered as the most convenient and objective visual models of the athlete’s reserve capabilities.

Sports training tools are also divided according to the direction of influence. It is possible to single out the means, mainly associated with the improvement of various aspects of readiness – technical, tactical, etc., as well as aimed at the development of various motor qualities, increasing the functional capabilities of individual organs and systems of the body.

Sports Training Methods

sports training near me

By the methods of sports training, one should understand the ways of work of a coach and an athlete. With the help of which the mastery of knowledge, skills and abilities is achieved, the necessary qualities are developed, and a worldview is formed.

For practical purposes, all methods are conventionally divided into three groups:

  1. verbal;
  2. visual;
  3. practical.

In the process of sports training, all these methods are used in various combinations. Each method is not used in a standard way but is constantly adapted to specific requirements due to sports training characteristics.

When choosing methods, one should ensure that they strictly correspond to the tasks set, general didactic principles, and special principles of sports training, age and gender characteristics of athletes, and their qualifications and fitness.

In sports, where a special place is given to connection with the practice, and also due to the specific features of sports activity, the main role is given to practical methods.

Verbal Methods

hourse riding

Verbal methods used in sports training include storytelling, explanation, lecture, conversation, analysis and discussion.

These forms are most often used concisely, especially when training qualified athletes, which is facilitated by special terminology, a combination of verbal methods with visual ones.

The training process’s effectiveness largely depends on the skillful use of instructions and commands, comments, verbal assessments, and explanations.

Visual Methods

Visual methods used in sports practice are diverse and largely determine the effectiveness of the training process. These, first of all, should include the methodically correct demonstration of individual exercises and their elements, which is usually carried out by a coach or a qualified athlete.

In sports practice, demonstration aids are widely used:

  • training films, 
  • video recordings, 
  • layouts of playgrounds and fields for demonstrating tactical schemes, 
  • electronic games. 

Orientation methods are also widely used. Here it is necessary to distinguish both the simplest landmarks, which limit the direction of movement, the distance covered, etc., and more complex ones – light, sound and mechanical leading devices, including those with program control and feedback.

These devices allow an athlete to obtain information about the tempo-rhythmic, spatial and dynamic characteristics of movements and sometimes provide not only information about movements and their results but also forced correction.

Practical Exercise Methods

sports training facility
  1. methods, mainly aimed at mastering sports technique, i.e., at the formation of motor skills and abilities characteristic of the chosen sport;
  2. methods, mainly aimed at the development of motor qualities.

It should be borne in mind that the development of sports technique almost always presupposes the simultaneous mastery of the tactics of using techniques and actions in competitive conditions.

This is especially typical for martial arts, sports games, cycling, alpine skiing, in which mastering a particular technique (for example, a technique in wrestling or basketball) certainly involves studying the tactics of using this technique in competition conditions.

A wide arsenal and a variety of physical activities, characteristic of the second group of methods, develop not only physical qualities but also improve technical and tactical skills, mental qualities.

Both groups of methods are closely interconnected, are applied in an indissoluble unity. Taken together, they provide an effective solution to the problems of sports training.

Sports Training Methods for Mastering Sports Technique

The methods of learning the exercise as a whole and in parts should be distinguished.

Learning the movement as a whole is carried out by mastering relatively simple exercises, as well as complex movements, the division of which into parts is impossible.

However, when mastering the integral movement, the trainees’ attention is consistently focused on the rational fulfillment of individual elements of the integral motor act.

When learning more or less complex movements, which can be divided into relatively independent parts, the development of sports techniques is carried out in parts.

In the future, the integral fulfillment of motional actions will lead to the integration into a single whole of the previously mastered components of a complex exercise.

When using the methods of mastering movements, both as a whole and in parts, a great role is given to leading and imitation exercises.

Leading Exercises

gym beast

Leading exercises serve to facilitate the mastering of sports techniques through the systematic mastering of simpler motor actions that ensure the main movement’s fulfillment. This is due to the related coordination structure of the lead and main exercises. So, in the training of a runner, running with a high rise of the thigh, running with an overwhelming lower leg, mincing running, jumping running, etc., are used as leading exercises.

Each of these exercises is leading in relation to running and contributes to a more effective formation of its individual elements: effective take-off, high hip extension, reduction in support time, improvement of coordination in the activity of antagonist muscles, etc.

Imitation Exercises

In imitation exercises, the general structure of the main exercises is preserved, however, when they are fulfilled, conditions are provided that facilitate the development of motor actions.

As imitation exercises, pedaling on a bicycle ergometer can be used for cyclists, imitation of swimming movements for swimmers, working on a rowing machine for rowers, etc.

Simulation exercises are very widely used to improve both beginners’ technical skills and athletes of various qualifications.

They not only make it possible to create an idea of ​​the technique of a sports exercise and facilitate the process of its assimilation, contribute to the adjustment of the optimal coordination structure of movements immediately before the competition but also ensure effective coordination between motor and autonomic functions, increase the effectiveness of the implementation of the functional potential in a competitive exercise.


The effectiveness of the methods aimed at mastering sports techniques to a decisive extent depends on the number, complexity and characteristics of the combination of the exercises used.

When mastering movements, especially complex in coordination, it is very important to select a set of exercises, united by the program’s commonality, starting positions, preparatory and basic actions, and differing only in coordination complexity.

At the same time, mastering each complex technique involves the presence of a large number of exercises of varying complexity, linked into a single didactic chain.

In the case of rational selection and distribution of exercises in this chain, it is possible to ensure a systematic process of mastering sports technique with wide use of the possibilities of positive transfer of motor skills, in which the mastering of a new exercise is based on a broad foundation of prerequisite skills and abilities.

Teaching methods’ effectiveness is directly related to the selection of exercises based on their structural relationships and the corresponding medical techniques. The following are recommended as the main techniques developed based on one of the most technically difficult kind of sport – artistic gymnastics:

  • inclusion – the introduction of a previously well-mastered movement into a new, motor action;
  • extrapolation – a complication of the movement utilizing a quantitative increase in a feature already included in the movement
  • interpolation – mastering a new exercise based on the already mastered easier and more difficult exercises, when the formation of an intermediate in complexity skill is required.

Sports Training Methods for Development of Motor Qualities

jumping the rope

The most important indicators that determine the structure of practical training methods is whether the exercise during a single use of this method is continuous or given at intervals for rest is performed in a uniform (standard) or variable (varying) mode.

In the process of sports training, exercises are used within the framework of two main methods – continuous and interval.

  • The continuous method is characterized by a single continuous execution of training work.
  • The interval one – provides for the implementation of exercises with regulated rest pauses.

When using both methods, exercises can be performed in both uniform and alternating modes. Depending on the selection of exercises and their application’s peculiarities, training can be generalized (integral) and selective (predominant).

With a generalized influence, a parallel (complex) improvement of various qualities is carried out, which determine the level of an athlete’s preparedness, and with a selective one – the predominant development of individual qualities.

With a uniform mode of using any of the methods, the intensity of work is constant. In case of a variable mode, it is variable. The intensity of work from exercise to exercise can increase (progressive variant) or repeatedly change (variable variant).

Continuous Sports Training Method

The continuous training method, used in conditions of uniform work, is mainly used to increase aerobic capacity, develop special endurance for work of medium and long duration.

As an example, we can cite rowing at distances of 5000 and 10,000 m at a constant speed at a heart rate of 145-160 beats/min, running at distances of 10,000 and 20,000 m at the same heart rate.

These exercises will help to increase the aerobic performance of athletes, develop their endurance for long-term work, and increase their efficiency.

The possibilities of the continuous training method under conditions of variable work are much more diverse.

Depending on the duration of the parts of the exercise performed with greater or lesser intensity, the peculiarities of their combination, the intensity of work when performing individual parts, it is possible to achieve a predominant effect on the athlete’s body in the direction of increasing speed capabilities, developing various types of endurance, improving individual abilities that determine the level of sports achievements in various sports.


In the case of using a variable option, parts of the exercise may alternate, performed with different intensities or with different intensities and varying duration.

For example, when skating a distance of 8000 m (20 laps of 400 m), one lap is run with a result of 45 s, the next is free, at an arbitrary speed.

Such work will contribute to the development of special endurance, the formation of competitive technique, an increase in aerobic-anaerobic capabilities.

The progressive version is associated with an increase in the intensity of work as the exercise is performed, and the downward one – with its decrease.

So, swimming a distance of 500 m (the first hundred-meter segment, taken in 64 s, and each subsequent one – 2 s faster, that is, in 62, 60, 58 and 56 s) is an example of a progressive option.

Cross-country skiing of 20 km (4 laps of 5 km) with results of 20, 21, 22 and 23 minutes, respectively – an example of a descending option.

Interval Sports Training Method

beach training

The interval training method, which assumes the uniform performance of work, is widely used in the practice of sports training.

Performing a series of exercises of the same duration with constant intensity and strictly regulated pauses is typical for this method.

As examples, we can cite typical series aimed at developing special endurance: 10 x 400 m – in running and skating, 10 x 1000 m – in rowing, etc.

An example of a varying variant can be series for the development of sprint qualities in the running: 60 m at maximum speed, rest – 3-5 minutes; 30 m on the move with maximum speed, slow run – 200 m.

An example of a progressive option are complexes that imply the sequential passage of segments of increasing length (running a series of 400 m + 800 m + 1200 m + 1600 m 4-2000 m) or a stable length with an increasing speed (swimming a distance of 200 m 6 times with results of 2 min 14 s, 2.12, 2.10, 2.08, 2.06, 2.04).

The top-down variant assumes the opposite combination: successive performance of exercises of decreasing length or performance of exercises of the same duration with a sequential decrease in their intensity.

In one complex, progressive and descending options can also be combined. As an example, a complex can be presented that is widely used for the development of special endurance in swimming at a distance of 1500 m:

  • 600 m, rest 30-40 s.
  • 400 m, rest 20-30 s.
  • 200 m, rest 15 s.
  • 100 m, rest 10 s.
  • 50 m, rest 5 s.
  • 50 m (speed 85-90% of the maximum available on the corresponding segment).

In this case, from one repetition to another, the swimming speed systematically increases, and the segments’ length decreases.

Exercises using the interval method can be continuous (for example, 10×800 m – in the running, 6 x 5 km – in skiing, etc.) or serial 6 x (4 x 50 m) – in swimming, etc.

It is also customary to distinguish between the game and competitive methods as independent practical methods.

Game Sports Training Method


The game method provides for the fulfillment of motional actions in the game’s conditions, within the limits of the rules characteristic of it, an arsenal of technical and tactical techniques and situations.

The use of the game method provides a high emotionality of classes. It is associated with solving problems in constantly changing situations, effectively in the presence of a variety of technical-tactical and psychological tasks that arise during the game.

These features of the game activity require from the trainees initiative, courage, perseverance and independence, the ability to manage their emotions and subordinate personal interests to the interests of the team, the manifestation of high coordination abilities, quick response, quick thinking, the use of original and unexpected technical and tactical solutions for rivals.

All this predetermines the game method’s effectiveness for solving problems related to various aspects of an athlete’s training.

However, the game method’s effectiveness is not limited to solving problems associated with increasing the level of fitness of athletes.

Its role is no less important as a means of active rest, switching of those who go in for a different kind of physical activity in order to accelerate and increase the efficiency of adaptation and recovery processes, to maintain the previously achieved level of readiness.

Competitive Sports Training Method


The competitive method presupposes a specially organized competitive activity, which in this case acts as an optimal way to increase the effectiveness of the training process.

The use of this method is associated with extremely high requirements for the technical-tactical, physical and psychological capabilities of an athlete, causes profound shifts in the activity of the most important systems of the body and thereby stimulates adaptation processes, ensures the integral improvement of various aspects of the athlete’s readiness.

When using the competitive method, the competition conditions should be widely varied to bring them as close as possible to the requirements that most contribute to the solution of the tasks.

Competitions can be held in difficult or light conditions in relation to those typical for official competitions.

Examples of the complication of competition conditions include the following:

  • holding the competition in the middle mountains, in hot climates, in bad weather conditions;
  • competitions in sports games on fields and grounds of a smaller size, with a larger number of players in the opposing team;
  • conducting a series of fights (in wrestling) or fights (in boxing) with relatively short pauses against several opponents;
  • competitions in games and single combats with “uncomfortable” opponents who use unusual technical and tactical combat schemes;
  • the use of weighted shells during the competition (in the hammer throw, shot put), restriction of respiratory cycles in cyclic sports.

Facilitation of competition conditions can be provided by:

  • planning competitions at distances of shorter length in cyclic types, reducing the duration of fights, fights – in single combats;
  • simplification of the competitive program – in complex coordination forms;
  • the use of lightweight shells – in throwing, reducing the height of the net – in volleyball, the mass of balls – in water polo and football;
  • the use of a “handicap,” in which a weaker participant is given a certain advantage – they start a little earlier – in cyclic forms, get an advantage in abandoned pucks or balls – in sports games, etc.

Source: Basis of Sports Training

football goal

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