What are your philosophies for athlete development?
I do not follow or prescribe to a single training philosophy. I personally am very much influenced with the old Russian Conjugate system and I use some Westside Barbell principles when programming for my teams. I first look at the sport and what is needed for that sport and the most common injuries that the sport typically will have. Then I will choose a mode of training to address the sports’ needs. Injury prevention is a top priority to address; followed by work capacity, base strength, and power development. Each athlete will then get assessed throughout their lifts and exercises will be assigned based on the needs or weakness of the individual. I always feel that addressing the weakness or “weak link” is the key to developing each athlete so they do not compensate for that weakness which can lead to imbalances and possible injuries.
Do you train athletes differently in the university setting, than you would if they were full-time professionals?
No, I have trained and worked with professional athletes and I assess their needs the same. They only factors that may be different is how their training works into their schedule. The age of the athlete and their history of injury and past performance might also influence the training as well.
Can you give an example of your S&C programming for a year/over 4 years?
What might differ from other programming philosophies is that I only look to “peak” my athletes only once a year during championships. So over a 4 year period, most of my athletes will only peak 4 times. There are similarities to the programming from one year to the next but they are NEVER the same programs each phase for each year. The chemistry and general needs of a team may have changes each year.
How do you develop coaches and interns? What are important factors for you?
When I interview individuals for assistant or intern positions; I am trying to find the right people to surround myself with that I will like working with. I need to be able to work with those individuals and them with me. I have been very blessed over the years to find the right individuals that have made our University successful and have made me a better person and strength coach. Character and work ethic are very important factors for me. In this profession we work long hours and it is necessary to work together to create a training atmosphere that athletes want to come in to. I love to cook; so it is a must that they like BBQ’s!
What should young coaches do who are looking to get into the collegiate S&C profession?
They need to gain as much experience as they can by interning and being involved as much as they can be. When they have an opportunity to intern somewhere they have to work their butt off and learn as much from the staff there as possible. Don’t be a “clock watcher”!! Expect and desire the long hours as a learning experience, ask questions, volunteer, and do all the little things with a smile on your face. Remember, in this field it is all who you know and what references you can get from veteran strength coaches who will work on your behalf to help you get an interview. Also, go to as many conferences and clinics that you can and TALK to everyone. Ask good questions of the speakers and follow up with an email about the presentation. These are probably the people who will do interviews at their facilities when a vacancy opens up. They might just remember you or recognize your name if you apply. Directors of departments like “go-getters”!! Get out of your comfort zone and contact strength coaches; ask them if you can shadow them and their staff for a day. Be prepared to ask them intelligent questions. Repeat this as much as possible. You are making contacts and networking. Volunteer at a local college and help out if you find yourself without a job. Remember as a young strength coach your resume won’t have much on it but doing things like this will help you stand out among a bunch of resumes.
What threats are there to the university S&C profession
I believe the biggest issue is there is no single governing body or certification for a strength coach. The NCAA doesn’t know how to manage this field of science adequately so it gets passed down the university level. The problem at the university level is the one’s making decisions don’t fully understand everything a strength coach does or can do for an athletic department. So they look at the certifications recommended by the NCAA and then those certs say similar and different things in their governing bylaws.
Another issue, is the ever growing coaching changes that seem to be common
place anymore with coaches coming and going. What if you have a great strength coach working at a university and that university brings in a new football or basketball coach and that coach wants to bring in their own strength coach. What job security does he/she have?
Who should manage/supervise the S&C/Performance department? Who should carry out audits and reviews?
This seems to be a hot topic right now. Most schools, including mine, it falls under the Athletic Director, but there is a push for it to fall under sports medicine because of recent training related deaths. Personally, I believe it should remain under the department’s Athletic Director. If it falls under the Head Athletic Trainer then that essentially places the strength department down the ladder as an identity. Sports medicine and sports development should be held to equally high standards. The biggest question is how do you measure how good a strength coach is doing? Should it be from strength maxes, injury tracking, championships, sport coaches feedback, or a combination of all these factors?
Why not give the Bucknell Strength & Conditioning Department a follow on Instagram to have a closer look at how Bucknell University run their Strength & Conditioning Department