T Nation

Becoming a Strength Coach

I would like to become a strength coach, espically at a college. What steps should I take to acheive this goal? I already have a BS in sports manegement, and am studying for my CSCS, also should I get a masters in biomechanics or another sprots related feild?
Thanks
WIll42

I think that if you want to become a good S&C coach, the most important thing is to have lots of experience under the bar so to speak. The degrees and certifications are important for getting your foot in the door and having a good general knowledge base, but all of that doesnt mean shit unless you have experience under the bar. Im not saying you have to be a monster, but how are you supposed to teach someone else how to get stronger if you have never even had 500lbs on your back? Also learn on your own. Seek knowledge everywhere not just what they teach in class. Take the knowledge and experience you gain and apply it to the athletes.

Sorry, that wasnt a direct answer to your question, but I know too many classroom experts that cant hardly squat their own bodyweight, but still want to be taken seriously. It was my rant for today.

While barbender has a point, I highly doubt a job application is going to have a box for squat, bench, or deadlift. I would think that you would need to pursue a masters to be considered for a strength coach position.

Yes, get a master degree if you want to be a head S&C in college. You still can be assistant S&C while working on masters. There are too many bad Head S&C college coaches so good luck on finding compenent one.

The entry level sort of qualifications you need to be a college strength coach seem to be a Master’s, CSCS and the USA Weightlifting Club Coach award. You also need to get plenty of experience coaching. See if you can volunteer or intern in college weight rooms or private facilities.

Cheers

Dan

I never said that your lifts were on an application. Notice I said good strength coach. Maybe we would be better off if that sort of stuff was on an application. You definitely need the masters to get your foot in the door like I said. Just remember that a piece of paper doesnt make you a good coach, it just makes you a coach.

Thanks

NSCA-CSCS isn’t all that great. I’ve lost respect for NSCA ever since I found out that you don’t have to have a degree in exercise science or similar majors to become CSCS. They probably dumbed down the exam so they could pass. I say bullshit and worthless piece of shit. NSCA doesn’t really know how to do things so i wouldn’t rely on their sorry out dated crap “research”. Focus on eastern european training methods much like CT, Defranco, and few others. Just because you have CSCS, that doesn’t make you superior to others. There are plently of others that are very good and don’t even have CSCS. If you want to work in NCAA, you might as well get CSCS because that’s pretty much required.

All the methods listed work great in some way or another. What worked out for me is getting in touch with someone already coaching that you can learn from. Volunteer the time if you have to, seek someone locally that would be willing to help, and is worth a shit. Most good coaches would like someone that is willing to help them out and learn especially if they train a lot of athletes.

You should read the 7th newsletter by CT. there is a section in it called trading places. the address for this is :

http://www.angelfire.com/ct3/modern-strength/Newsletters/modern_strength_no_1_.7.pdf

[quote]Tungsten wrote:
NSCA-CSCS isn’t all that great. I’ve lost respect for NSCA ever since I found out that you don’t have to have a degree in exercise science or similar majors to become CSCS.
Actually, you need a BA/BS degree or be enrolled as a college senior to sit for the NSCA-CSCS exam.
I believe the NSCA-CPT does not require a degree.

[quote]mikeruiz49 wrote:

Actually, you need a BA/BS degree or be enrolled as a college senior to sit for the NSCA-CSCS exam.
I believe the NSCA-CPT does not require a degree. [/quote]

You do need a BA/BS for the CSCS, but not in a related field. You could have a BA in music and would be ok. I think this is what Tungsten was saying about credibility. What would I know about exercise with my BA of Music? Zilch.

Just to chime in on this NSCA certification stuff. I don’t think anyone thinks certifications are the defining factor of someone’s knowledge. All they do is provide a benchmark showing that a person has some minimal amount of knowledge in a certain area. People who are looking to hire someone and require a CSCS know what the test is like and understand what a person will know if he/she has passed that test. It’s just there to show someone has a base knowledge in the field of strength and conditioning.

The requirement for a college degree, regardless if it is in a health related field, is to ensure a base level of education. A bachelor’s degree is pretty general anyways whether it’s in exercise science or psychology. I myself have a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and passed the CSCS exam. Just because my bachelor’s was in an unrelated field does not mean I can’t be competent in the area of strength and conditioning. I now just finished my Masters in Exercise Science and am starting my PhD in the Autumn.

My friend just did an internship with a strength and conditioning coach at a college and it really opened his eyes. Long hours, low pay, and its hard to get your foot in the door. Make sure you get some experience around people who are doing what you “think” you want to do. That way you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Read CT’s article about that very topic.

The best business advice I’ve received came from Charles Poliquin: “The basic rule is that you have to read 10 hours a week on a particular topic for five years to develop an appreciably level of expertise on that precise subject. If your not willing to commit that much time, you might consider a different line of work.”

This field doesn’t need any more piss pore strength coaches/trainers. Utilize every means you have to gain knowledge, you could intern, read books, read articles, watch training videos, call and/or e-mail other strength coaches, those are just a few of the paths to gain knowledge.

Knowledge isn’t power, applied knowledge is power!
—Paul Chek

Hope that Helps!

[quote]smallnomore wrote:
mikeruiz49 wrote:

Actually, you need a BA/BS degree or be enrolled as a college senior to sit for the NSCA-CSCS exam.
I believe the NSCA-CPT does not require a degree.

You do need a BA/BS for the CSCS, but not in a related field. You could have a BA in music and would be ok. I think this is what Tungsten was saying about credibility. What would I know about exercise with my BA of Music? Zilch.[/quote]

Ok, I was not going to respond but this hits too close to home. I am a CSCS and have a BA in Music Education. WFT does that have to do with the price of eggs? Sorry, I am new, but I have to vent here!

Honestly, you don’t really get into that great of detail in college until your graduate work, like wushufanatic said above.

I have always been into physical training. I was a Nebraska state powerlifting champion in high school, studied martial arts on and off, around 6 years ago earned by 1st degree black belt in TaeKwondo, 3 years later certified TKD instructor. 3 years ago placed 8th in a national body transformation contest, 2.5 years ago earned my CFT, and just 4 months ago earned my CSCS, and will test for my 4th degree in one year.

So now that I am into ‘strength and conditioning’, and 40 years of age, am I to go back and get a 4 year degree in Exercise Physiology… NO, but I do get a Masters degree. Should not having a BA in P.E. count against me??

Why can’t a 30-60 year old get certified as a CPT or CSCS with out getting crap about not having a BA in an exercise field??? It’s what you have in your head that counts, not what’s on a piece of paper.

With that said, do you need a CSCS to know what you are doing? Of course not. I personally know several top S&C coaches in the country that dont have a CSCS.

Tungsten, you commented:“They probably dumbed down the exam so they could pass. I say bullshit and worthless piece of shit. NSCA doesn’t really know how to do things so i wouldn’t rely on their sorry out dated crap “research”.”

My question is, what do you base this revelation on? Are you CSCS? Have you taken the test? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

As far as it being ‘dumbed down’, I don’t think so. Only 65.5% of those who take the test typically pass. At my testing, there were trainers who were testing for the second time, and were Exercise Physiology majors, and GA’s! One person I know, did’t even pass on the second attempt, and yes she graduated college last year with a degree in Exercise.

I also agree with what Boss said. You have good and bad coaches. To be the best, you need to put hours of extra time in. Read, listed to interviews, intern, seminars, DVD’s, CD’s. If you ever think you know it all, it’s already too late.

Just had to share my thoughts… not picking any fights.

[quote]barbender242 wrote:
I think that if you want to become a good S&C coach, the most important thing is to have lots of experience under the bar so to speak. The degrees and certifications are important for getting your foot in the door and having a good general knowledge base, but all of that doesnt mean shit unless you have experience under the bar. Im not saying you have to be a monster, but how are you supposed to teach someone else how to get stronger if you have never even had 500lbs on your back? Also learn on your own. Seek knowledge everywhere not just what they teach in class. Take the knowledge and experience you gain and apply it to the athletes.

Sorry, that wasnt a direct answer to your question, but I know too many classroom experts that cant hardly squat their own bodyweight, but still want to be taken seriously. It was my rant for today.[/quote]

Maybe, just maybe you should realize that performance in itself doesn’t reflect the ability of a good SC and this for a variety of reasons: some might have poor genetics, injuries from the past that can affect performance, the actual training objectives of the SC, etc. What if a SC can only squat 150 pounds 'cause he’s got a poor genetic? does that make him less competent? I don’t think so. Of course you need the experience under the bar and that is in fact pretty important, but I don’t think you need to squat 500+ pounds to be a good SC and I really think a lot of people need to understand that very fact. Squatting 500+ pounds and being big and ripped will never even compare with a BSc or a master degree… but I guess that’s just my opinion after all

[quote]dave thegame wrote:
Maybe, just maybe you should realize that performance in itself doesn’t reflect the ability of a good SC and this for a variety of reasons: some might have poor genetics, injuries from the past that can affect performance, the actual training objectives of the SC, etc. What if a SC can only squat 150 pounds 'cause he’s got a poor genetic? does that make him less competent? I don’t think so.
[/quote]

Nobody, and I mean nobody, should be out there teaching something they can’t do.

I just finished my BS in computer science in June and the most important thing I learned getting that degree is how little the piece of paper says about my capabilities. I actually like my field, I spend a lot of time studying on my own, and I have the work experience to know I can hang in the real world, but just having the degree means very little.

I don’t think having experience automatically means you can teach, or that spending lots of time under the bar and having big numbers means you are an awesome coach, but in the reverse situation, if you can’t do something you can’t teach it. Period. I’ve seen plenty of people try- had to put up with way too many college profs who’s resumes had no real-world experience in what they were teaching, and they were always incompetant. You just don’t learn something by not doing it!

The guys who are both masters of what they do and able to pass it on to others are a very rare breed. Very special people, and much more than required coursework and certification papers.

And yes I would be very, very suspicious of any S&C coach that claimed he couldn’t squat 150 because of bad genetics…

Nick

I can see where you are coming from with this but this isn’t always the case. Sure doing something has tremendous benefits in allowing the teacher to make recommendations. The person teaching knows what its like, the difficulties encountered, and what might be experienced through the movements being taught. But this does not mean someone can’t teach something they can’t do. A good example is Bela Karoly, previous coach of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics team. He was no champion gymnast from what I believe and secondly, a guy doesn’t perform the same skills as a woman in gymnastics. Coach Karoly can’t do half the stuff his gymnasts can do. Does that make him a bad coach? Just look at his record and you’ll know the answer.

Experience helps but its not a requirement.

Nothing brightens your day more than listening to a bunch of people completely talk out of their ass about something that they claim to have knowledge of, but don’t.

Quick survey…how many people who posted to this thread are actually collegiate strength and conditioning coaches? My hand is up, is yours? Anyone?

Earlier someone stated that there are a lot of coaches out there proagating myths of old. While that is true to some extent, another myth out there is that S&C coaches are all like that. The reason the field was filled with people who didn’t know anything in the 80’s and early 90’s is because so many people wanted strength coaches, but there was no system in place to provide qualified individuals to meet those needs.

You now have Master’s degree programs specifically geared towards strength and conditioning, more people doing research (both in labs and in the gym, i.e. Louis Simmons), and you have more information available to those who seek it.

No reputable DI school will just ‘hire a big guy’ because he is big. That may have been true in the 70’s/80’s, but no way today. Division I strength programs improve every year and weed out the unqualified.

So back to the original topic. How to get into the field. Volunteer, volunteer, and then volunteer some more. The only way you will land a job in the field is based on a solid recommendation. No one gets hired because of a degree or certification. Degrees and certifications are only used as a tool to evaluate a base level of knowledge in the field.

While you are volunteering, learn how to perform all of the lifts proficiently. Learn the coaching points of each. Most importantly, learn how to relate to and motivate athletes. Even the best program in the world is worthless if you can’t get the athletes on your side.

As far as the guy who wrote that you “need to know what it’s like to have 500 lbs on your back…” This may be true if I’m coaching a powerlifter, and the guys I’m coaching are ignorant enough to only take advice from other big guys. How about the guys that Louis Simmons takes advice from? Have you ever seen Zatsiorsky? Mel Siff weighed less than 200 lbs, but was anyone questioning what he was saying because he was skinny? The notion that you have to be a monster to be taken seriously is for the idiotic.

To sum it up…not all strength coaches are idiots, not all ‘good’ strength coaches are really strong, but all good strength coaches are intelligent, open minded, and good at motivating and teaching athletes.

Amen! Very Well said.

Before you become a strength coach make sure you know what you are getting into. Put simply; tons of hours, crap pay, and every sport coach thinks you are their personal little errand boy. This is all especially true if you are just starting out as a GA or a low level assistant.