The Value of a Strength Coach

Updated: Feb 19

Lindsay Joyal, Multi Sport Athlete, XIP Intern and Athlete


My own perspective...

As a XIP athlete since I was 12 years old, I have gained the skills, knowledge, and confidence to be successful in sports and I even discovered my passion and future career path because of it. Adrian Guyer and the XIP staff have not only given me the tools to be a better athlete but they’ve also helped me come back from double ACL and meniscal repairs and a bunionectomy (foot surgery) all within 3 years. The amount of injuries, surgeries, and rehabilitation I faced in the short amount of time would’ve likely caused most young athletes to give up on their passions. Thankfully for me, I had access to an elite strength and conditioning staff who helped me get back to playing sports like nothing ever happened. Because of my own experience, I am now passionate about helping others become the strongest and most confident versions of themselves. This is why I wanted to take this internship, as an opportunity to see the other side of what it really takes to be elite strength coach.



What I learned during my internship:

Over the past few weeks of "January term", I had the opportunity to witness strength coaches enhance stability, quickness, strength, mobililty, reactivity, flexibility and most of all -confidence, in all of their athletes. The clients or athletes ranging from middle school age to over 70 years old.

There were definite similarities in the programs of every athlete, regardless of age. There is a purpose to this: training things like trunk/core stability, foot/ankle/shoulder mobility, hand-eye coordination, and overall strength is VALUABLE at EVERY age and level. Coaches were able to do similar drills and exercises with 14 year olds as they were with 60 year olds, all with the same goal in mind: life long success.


This is why it is so IMPORTANT to introduce a strength coach at the high school level for all athletes regardless of what sport they play. Learning valuable and life long skills, exercises, and overall knowledge of one’s body will give any athlete an advantage in sport and in life.



BENEFITS of a strength coach for high school athletes:

Reduce injuries: A qualified strength and conditioning professional can play a vital role in preparing young athletes for sport and minimizing the incidence and severity of sport-related injuries.

Long-term athletic development: A qualified strength and conditioning professional understands the many variables that go into designing training-age–appropriate and sport-appropriate programs, which can produce more positive results.


Enhance overall performance: Athletes who participate in a well-designed strength and conditioning program typically will be faster, stronger, more powerful, move more efficiently, and be more athletic than they would be without it.

Boost confidence: Athletes who invest time in strength and conditioning tend to develop confidence through changes in their body composition, as well as the knowledge that the development which occurs as a result of their training can give them an advantage in competition.

Improve health: In addition to increasing muscular strength, power, and muscular endurance, regular participation in training program has the potential to alleviate and prevent many health-related conditions such as depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, and managing stress.



BENEFITS for the school:

Limit liability: A qualified strength and conditioning professional can help limit a school’s liability and implement procedures that support risk-management.

Increase professionalism and safety: For the same reason schools require a certified athletic trainer to work with their injured athletes or a certified lifeguard on pool decks, the same is true for the coach who is designing and supervising the strength and conditioning program.

Extra coach on staff for every sport: A strength coach allows the sport coach more time to focus on the day-to-day practice schedule while the strength coach oversees the strength and conditioning of the team.



According to TrainHeroic, the skills of a strength coach go past sets and reps...

● They increase performance while minimizing injuries both in the weight room and on the athletic field.

● They contribute to long-term athlete development.

● They increase confidence and self-esteem in young men and women.

● They improve health and wellness while teaching life skills.

● They decrease the school’s liability and risk management.

● They bridge the gap between the medical staff, athletic trainers, and sport team coaches.


The problem...

Many schools and institutions have built expensive fitness centers and weight

rooms, but may not have invested in a qualified coach as part of the budget. This

is a problem. Too often this position is given to an assistant sport coach, fitness

instructor, or volunteer who does not have the background or education in order to

safely and effectively build evidence based training programs and run training sessions with teams of athletes. In order to get the

most out of athletes, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist should be at

the head of all training programs and supervision of athletes. The weight room

should be viewed as both a training facility and classroom where young adults can

learn how to train safely and effectively, and develop skills like accountability and

discipline from a qualified professional.


I was drawn to the high school level because I was regularly seeing college

freshmen coming into the program who were under-developed and unbalanced as

athletes. They were just surviving on their natural abilities. And they were getting

hurt.”

-Jeff Kipp, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Houston’s Strake Jesuit College Preparatory.


While sport coaches have specific game-related training goals and tactics in mind, it’s the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who guides those coaches and the kids to ensure the training is done safely.


The bottom line...

Strength coaches do not enter the profession for the ‘big bucks’. They are passionate about making athletes the best they can possibly be - at every age level.

“My entire reason for doing this job is to see these kids succeed. I want them to make their first touchdowns … to have a new personal best time … I want to help them improve their performance and get more playing time. I want to help them become the best version of themselves. Their successes are why I do this job.”

- Jeff Kipp, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Houston’s Strake Jesuit College Preparatory.


Work Cited:

https://www.nsca.com/contentassets/d440b80ebce94c7691428f5d69d2a986/why-your-high-school-needs-a-qualified-strength-and-conditioning-professional.pdf

https://districtadministration.com/legal-benefits-of-certified-strength-and-conditioning-coaches/

https://www.nsca.com/education/high-school-athletic-directors-resources/case-study-how-safe-is-your-teens-strength-and-conditioning-program/

https://www.nsca.com/education/high-school-athletic-directors-resources/the-significant-change-quietly-taking-place-in-high-school-athletics/

http://blog.trainheroic.com/making-the-case-for-a-full-time-strength-conditioning-coach

https://simplifaster.com/articles/high-school-strength-conditioning-reality/

https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/fulltext/2017/12000/nsca_strength_and_conditioning_professional.1.aspx

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