Sport Coaches Are Not Necessarily Strength Coaches

15 Mar

Columbia-High-School-coach-Phil-McCrary[1]One of the things I really enjoy about my job is the opportunity to travel to high schools, colleges, and universities and work with coaches and student-athletes in their weight rooms.  Typically, my work involves the creation, design, and development of strength training programs, including explanation and demonstration of exercise selection and technique.  We also discuss pre- and post-workout nutrition, supplements, and a variety of other pertinent topics.  And although the coaches I work with are very good at what they do, one thing has become clear: Sport coaches are not necessarily equipped or prepared to effectively function as strength and conditioning professionals (note to coaches: don’t take it personally; strength trainers aren’t necessarily sport coaches, either).

Here are some examples of what I’ve observed:

Inability to effectively manage big numbers.  This is especially prevalent among football programs.  I’ve seen coaches implement group aerobics and calisthenics, P90X, and other programs without any rationale (except for the fact that these programs make it easier to manage big numbers because they’re “one size fits all”).

Inadequate — little or no — qualified supervision.  Athlete to coach ratio is typically very high (sometimes the kids are supervising themselves!).

Poor program design and exercise selection.  No needs analysis or thought given to personnel, equipment, time, and/or resources.

Most of the coaches and athletes with whom I’ve worked are less than proficient at teaching and performing exercise technique (especially the Olympic lifts; some of what I’ve seen pass for proper form on even the most basic exercises is scary), and are unsure/unaware of appropriate selection of loads, repetitions, sets, etc.

I know of several programs whose workouts have come directly from internet searches and You Tube, without any consideration given to evidence-based strength and conditioning.  “Everyone does it,” “I heard about it from another coach,” or “I learned/observed it at a clinic or conference” do not constitute good reasons for implementing something into your program.

Coaches, you were hired by someone who felt that your experience and expertise were the best fit for building a program.  No one expects that your experience and expertise are all-encompassing (certainly you have assistant coaches to whom you delegate some of the coaching responsibilities).  You can improve the overall quality of your program by enlisting the direction and guidance of a strength and conditioning professional — there are lots of qualified individuals out there.  X’s and O’s, strategy and tactics, and sport-specific skill development are crucial to the success of any team or program.  Strength and speed are “difference makers,” and also important.  Let us help you, your staff, and your athletes.


Your thoughts?


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