Strength and Conditioning Specialist Questions

What is a strength and conditioning specialist?

A strength and conditioning specialist is a professional who is educated to design and implement training and conditioning programs for athletes. These programs are designed to maintain the health of the athlete, as well as improve their overall speed, power, strength, and flexibility. All of these functions are accomplished with the overall goal of preventing injury and improving sport performance. This field is different from a personal trainer who works with non-athletes, and different from a traditional coach who teaches sports skills or strategy. Instead, the strength and conditioning specialist is coaching the athlete to physically become more capable to compete and succeed.

Learn more about strength and conditioning certification.

At the collegiate setting, how many strength and conditioning specialists are employed?

How often does a strength and conditioning specialist need to see an athlete?

There is not much that can be accomplished in training an athlete in one session. Typically S&C specialists are seeing repeat athletes. Athletic trainers and physical therapists work with rehabilitating acutely injured athletes and the S&C professional then works on reconditioning the athlete. This is something that takes time and multiple sessions to help the athlete become stronger and achieve certain goals.

What types of personality traits make someone a good fit for this profession?

In order to succeed in this field it is essential to be an effective communicator, since you’re working closely with coaches, athletic trainers, team physicians, and the athlete. It is important to be able to relate well to a variety of types of people since each athlete has a different background. For example, some athletes want to get better and others don’t feel they need your assistance. Being disciplined and a good motivator are also important traits to have. Finally, you sometimes have to come across as strict in order to get athletes to follow your program to help them succeed.

Learn more about the strength and conditioning degree.

What other health care professionals do strength and conditioning coaches work with?

Strength and conditioning coaches work with a variety of other professionals including athletic trainers, coaches, physical therapists, team physicians, administrators, and sometimes massage therapists.

What are the hours like in this field?

While in a clinical setting the hours will be more regular daytime hours, at the collegiate level, the hours in this field can be pretty irregular. Not only do sports teams practice early in the morning and late in the evening, but they also have their games on the weekend. And during off-season, when the traditional team coaches get a break from the hectic schedule, the S&C coach is still hard at it, training teams in the off-season. This is not a good job for a person looking for the standard 9-5 daily grind.

Who do strength and conditioning coaches report to?

At the college setting, S&C Coaches typically report to the head coach, head S&C coach, or both. The athletic director is at the top of the hierarchy.

What different employment settings are available to strength and conditioning specialists?

  • Collegiate level: These individuals are tasked and employed to improve the sport performance of teams not just during the sport season but in off-season times as well.  Sometimes a coach will decide they want the strength and conditioning specialist to focus specifically on one area of improvement. For example, if there are many torn ACLs on a team, the head coach will likely ask the strength and conditioning specialist to focus on preventing these types of injuries. At the collegiate level the S&C coach has more contact with the athlete than anyone else. They see the athlete every day even when they’re out of season.
  • Professional and club sports teams: For professional sports strength and conditioning specialists work to condition the teams and focus on improving their speed, agility, and overall performance.
  • Sports performance clinics:  Some of these clinics are franchised and others are privately owned or owned by a hospital. In these settings individuals, small groups, and teams pay for training sessions. They could pay to train for a few weeks at a time or for an entire season. The strength and conditioning specialist training at the clinic setting designs programs for the athlete. These programs may focus on speed development, gaining muscle mass, losing weight or any other goal an athlete may set to become more competitive at their sport. Examples of a sports performance franchise would be Velocity, or Competitive Athlete Training Zone (CATZ).
  • Physical therapy/sports medicine based clinics: Strength and conditioning specialists are employed in these settings to work with more of the general population rather than strictly with the athlete.
  • Self-employed: Some S&C Specialists work sports training camps or are hired to work with athletes independently on helping them become better trained for their sport.

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