Nobody wants to see their sports champion falter or their teams fail. A major factor behind an athlete’s performance is the effectiveness of strength & endurance training.
The performance boost requires the guidance of strength and conditioning (S&C) coach. They are the people who work behind the scenes to make an athlete competitive.
A strength and conditioning coach helps successful as well as aspiring athletes and sportspersons by helping them gain strength, prevent injury, and boost performance to win in the respective sphere.
The demand for the strength and conditioning coaches is consistently rising, especially in high schools and colleges in the United States.
The job outlook data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the employment of coaches and scouts will grow 11 per cent between 2018 and 2028.
According to Zippa, the strength and conditioning coach positions are preferred by males. Although males account for 73.8% of the total applicants, anyone passionate about sports could be a strength and conditioning coach. All you need is a good understanding of sports and skills to communicate and motivate effectively.
What is a Strength and Conditioning Coach
A strength and conditioning coach is a professional who helps athletes and sportspersons enhance physical endurance and performance. Strength and conditioning coaching is closely related to sporting activities.
The strength and conditioning coaches are associated with sports such as:
- Track & Field
- Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
- Track cycling
Strength training and aerobic conditioning are used by coaches to enhance the performance of an athlete. The training improves the level of strength, speed, and endurance.
The strength and conditioning coach also helps with the right techniques to prevent injuries.
What does a Strength and Conditioning Coach do
The strength and conditioning coaches work with athletes by focusing on improving skills.
S/he develops systematic, safe, and effective training programs. The programs are designed specifically keeping the needs of an individual athlete or team.
They often work with the head coach, other coaches, and support staff. The work involves preparing and integrating athletic development programs.
Role as strength and conditioning coach requires you to:
- Assess performance before and after the program
- Maintain workout records
- Provide expert advice for strengthening and conditioning
- Guide athletes about proper training techniques, sporting techniques
- Supervise & check athletes during workouts
As a coach, you will help athletes in identifying performance-limiting actions and look for actions that could cause injury.
A part of your manual would be to develop a protocol for:
- A range of movements
- Strength testing
- Physical testing
- Power testing
The elaborate programs will include:
- Resistance training
- Conditioning training
- Flexibility, mobility, warm up, and warm down programs
- Agility drills
As a strength and conditioning coach, you are expected to provide information on:
- Healthy eating
- Basic supplements
- Diet that supports training goals
- Physiological recovery after injury
As a strength and conditioning coach, you also need to design rehabilitation plans with team doctors, physio, and medical staff.
How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach
To become a successful Strength and conditioning coach you need to be a graduate, certified, and have relevant experience.
Start by enrolling in a relevant undergraduate program. Later on, you can add a professional coaching certification to build credibility.
An institutional program helps you get an S&C certification and gives you the opportunity to build a network with alumni. This network could be of great help in finding the first break as an intern and gaining experience with time.
The individual strength and conditioning coach can climb the ladder and become:
- General Managers in Training
- Directors of Training
- Wellness Director
- Club Manager
- Director of Facilities and Operations
The career progress depends on the individual’s expertise and experience. The typical career path is depicted below:
The details of education, skills, and certification required to become a strength and conditioning coach are:
#1. Strength and Conditioning Coach: Education Requirements
You need a Bachelor’s degree (BS/BA) and a basic understanding of Kinesiology or Exercise Science to start as a strength and conditioning coach.
Kinesiology, the scientific study of body movements, could be a great asset for your career progression
If you have certifications related to fields like Human Movement and Sports Science, then this will help you position yourself as an expert.
You need to be a graduate to take the entry-level test for the S&C certification program.
The popularity of the job has made the Strength and conditioning coaching hyper-competitive, making bachelor degree mandatory for the job in premium institutions…
According to Zippa, 17.04% of the applications for strength and conditioning coaches were from the California University of Pennsylvania and 54.4% of them were with Kinesiology as major
Certification demonstrates that;
- You have the professional expertise
- Establishes credibility
- Gives you a head start in jobs
Globally, there are several institutions that can help you get strength and conditioning certifications. Few of the best institutions are as under;
A. The National Strength and Conditioning Association, the United States
The association offers a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (C.S.C.S).
For taking the certification exam the candidates need to have a bachelor’s degree (BS/BA). Additionally, you need to have a current CPR / AED certification.
You can take the exam in any of the five languages (Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish).
B. UK Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA), the United Kingdom
The association is a professional body for strength and conditioning coaches in the U.K.
For becoming a “UKSCA Accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach (ASCC), you need to
- Take the UKSCA membership
- Have a bachelor’s degree in sports & exercise science
ASCA provides Level 0, 1, 2 and 3 of strength and conditioning accreditation courses.
The levels show the experience of the participants and the environment of coaching. Like, Level 1 for community / club, Level 2 for State/ National and Level 3 for Elite/ International.
A university-level qualification is not mandatory to be an accredited ASCA coach.
For seeking jobs, a graduate degree in Human Movement and Sports Science is preferred.
Other Professional Certification Authority
- Performance enhancement specialist certification (PES) from the National Academy of Sports medicine.
- Strength and Conditioning Coach Certification (SCCC) from the Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Coaches Association.
- Strength and Conditioning Certification from the International Sports Sciences Association.
The essential skills that you will need to become a strength and conditioning coach are;
1. Effective Communication – As a strength and conditioning coach, you will be working with a diversified group of people, like;
- Head coach
- Team administrators & managers
- Sports medicine professionals
- Professional athletes
You should be equipped with skills to communicate effectively with all types of people for all types of purposes it should be equally good in both written and verbal.
Institutions and teams prefer hiring coaches having better communication skills, especially in handling the public and media.
2. Having an Eye for Details
The success of the performance-enhancing program depends on the quality of data collection and interpretation. You should have requisite skills to make data and information collection robust and build a process to analyze them efficiently. The better is the data quality the better would be performance analysis and advice.
This skill helps you to be precise in finding problems and suggest measures accordingly. Your athletes and team will appreciate your preciseness.
3. Motivator & Educator
Success is the biggest motivator, but every student-athlete and sportsperson goes through the demotivating phase of failures. In such a scenario, they normally avoid taking bigger challenges, which in turn hurts their career.
As a strength and conditioning coach, your skill to motivate and educate could help you establish yourself as an expert. Your words and acts could encourage them to achieve milestones easily.
4. Taking Initiative
Most of the athletes fail to acknowledge their own potential in the early days. As a strength and conditioning coach, you can help them identify the potential and hone skills to touch new heights.
Most of the time, as a strength and conditioning coach, you have to take the initiative in helping your students remain focused on the goal.
You may be required to start performance projects and assessments independently. Until you take initiative you will not be able to add value to the team and individual’s performance. Taking initiative will help in the effective discharge of job responsibilities.
5. Being Ethical
Strength and conditioning coaches need to have the highest ethical standards in the best interest of the athlete, sports, profession, and society. They need to treat all athletes fairly without any bias.
It is very natural to fall into the trap of unethical practices when it comes to winning, fortune, and fame. Maintain the highest ethical standards to keep the integrity of the sporting culture.
6. Leadership Skills
A strength and conditioning coach brings out the best performances from athletes.
For that to happen, you need to have leadership skills so that the student-athletes have faith in you. Leadership skills will help them follow your instructions and take your guidance.
How much does a Strength and Conditioning Coach make
The salary for strength and conditioning coach depends on qualifications and experience. As per Payscale, the salary is;
- $27K for the fresh Strength and conditioning coach
- Over $63K for well-connected and established coaches
- Average S&C salary being $40,276
Salary insights published on Human Kinetic is under:
- Salaries for strength and conditioning coaches are almost alike personal trainers. Ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 in the United States.
- The head conditioning coaches working at the college level earn in the range of $45,000 to $75,000. But you can find coaches with salaries as much as $200,000.
- The strength and conditioning coach engaged with professional teams earns up to $100,000 per year.
Another salary analysis from the career expert Zippa shows;
- That the average yearly salary in the United States is $45,160
- Which is approximately $22 per hour
- The Fresh Strength and conditioning coaches earn $24,000
- The more Experienced coaches earn over $82,000
Why Should You Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach
As a strength and conditioning coach, you have the potential to positively impact the performance level of the individual athletes and collectively of the team. The reasons for becoming a strength and conditioning coach are as under;
#1. You can Help Student-athletes Discover their Greatest Potential
As the Strength and conditioning coach, you use your knowledge & expertise to help athletes improve performance.
The lessons on using the correct strength enhancement techniques can help raise the athlete’s performance to a higher level.
#2. Strength and Conditioning Coach can Further Athletic Career
Using Kinesiology & Exercise Science, a strength and conditioning coach can help sports person condition body. Conditioning training will help to avoid life-threatening fatal injuries.
Fatal injuries can be prevented through;
- The routine exercise
- Warmup / warm down drills
- Specific body movements
Thus helping individuals remain associated with the sport for a longer time.
#3. Strength and Conditioning Coach Addresses Individual Athlete’s Needs
The Strength and conditioning coach focuses on individual performance levels by addressing their physical and mental needs.
They do so by designing an individual-specific athletic development program. Where they focus on techniques, routines, food, psychology, heart rate, other body movements, and energy levels.
#4. Changing Lives
As a strength and conditioning coach, you have the ability to change lives.
You bring a positive change in an athlete’s life when you work on;
- Enhancing physical strength
- Building endurance
- Preparing mental toughness
- Suggesting appropriate food & nutrition
- Giving psychological help
You teach an important life lesson of pushing the limits and challenging yourself.
Strength and Conditioning coach plays a key role in increasing the individual and team’s performance standards. Thus making a lasting impact on student-athletes’ life.
To become one, you need to have a caring nature, passion for motivating and educating student-athletes.
Start by having a relevant graduate degree and getting accreditation from a reputed institution.