The Value of the Strength & Conditioning Coach
By: Daniel Sharvit
Strength & Conditioning (S&C) is a field of study and practice which requires a deep understanding of the human body both physically and mentally. A researcher in kinesiology works to define parameters for changes and adaptations a person can undergo. A practitioner (Coach) will assess, evaluate, and program routines and sessions based on the guidelines given by an accrediting organization. The key to a quality strength and conditioning coach is their ability to take all the information there is, digest, and implement the training based on the individual standing right in front of them.
Originating from American football, strength and conditioning began with the goal of developing the strongest, fastest, and most robust athletes. Through time, the field has developed into coaches working with athletes of all sports ranging from swimming to MMA, fencing and shooting. Outside the world of athletics, many S&C professionals take on individuals returning from an injury, people with disabilities such as blindness or amputees, weekend warriors, and parents who want to keep up with their kids. The list goes on, but our role is essential in helping and guiding these individuals to success and whatever that means to them.
To be a coach in the field you do not have to have any sort of licensure, but most jobs will require you to be certified by an accredited association. Through education, your knowledge of information is tested but your ability to implement proper training and truly coach is a skill that takes years to learn and a lifetime to master. The biggest hurdle that we strength coaches face is taking your ideas and thoughts from a piece of paper to real life.
We are more than just exercises, sets, reps, and percentages. We are creative thinkers who put the individual’s goals above all else. We balance autonomy with discipline by manipulating training environments and factors. We develop values and work ethic by implementing time management and tempo reps within sessions. Within a team setting, the S&C coach is commonly getting as many contact hours (if not more) as the head sports coach. In addition to training the athletes to achieve success at whatever level they compete in, it is our role and duty to build a culture and hold the athletes to the highest standards.
Whether you’re an accountant, athlete, circus performer, teacher, movie star, astronaut, chef, garbage man, or anything in between, the field and the weight room are truly humbling settings. Each of these professions comes with its own set of demands and constraints. It can be stressful at times and rewarding at others. As a coach we take into consideration our client’s sleep, nutrition, training volume, and mood and work towards their goal. Success for some can be getting into the gym 4 days that week and others, it’s winning a national championship. Some may want a pain free life. Whatever your goals are, it’s the strength and conditioning coach’s responsibility to take all these factors into account and hold you accountable. At the end of the day, people don’t remember what we say or do, but they do remember how we make them feel.