Updated: Feb 11
University Strength and Conditioning Departments in Focus
The S&C departments within universities provide excellent examples of evidence-based practice, applying scientific principles of S&C to their unique and challenging performance environments.
Through these articles, we will be taking a detailed look at what our partners at different institutions do, sharing good practice and providing a platform for collaboration and improvement.
If you run a university based S&C department, anywhere in the world, please get in touch to share your story.
In this article we'll be looking in to the Strength & Conditioning Department at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. The Quinnipiac Bobcats are the athletics teams that officially represent Quinnipiac University in college sports. Part of the NCAA's Division 1, the Bobcats field 21 varsity level sports teams, most of which compete in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). However, the Bobcats do compete outside of the MAAC in three sports, with their field hockey team competing in the Big East Conference, and both Men's and Women's ice hockey competing in the ECAC Hockey Conference.
Strength & Conditioning Department
In today's athletics, the foundation of any student-athlete's success on the field, court or ice is his or her year-round preparation. The strength and conditioning program at Quinnipiac University is designed to facilitate that preparation.
Each student-athlete is given his or her own individualized program that is designed to improve movement skills, core strength, power, speed, strength, balance and flexibility. The strength and conditioning staff makes sure that all areas of performance enhancement are covered and that the training is balanced among all components.
Bobcat student-athletes and the strength and conditioning staff have very high expectations. Much of what is done in the weight-room is designed to seamlessly integrate with the mission of the University while striving for athletic excellence. Bobcat student-athletes will learn discipline, teamwork and responsibility while developing confidence and a strong work ethic.
QU Strength and Conditioning Department Mission Statement:
To optimize each student-athlete's physical potential, while also reducing risk of injury; educating them through comprehensive, well organized and managed training programs; all done in a safe, positive, demanding, and disciplined environment.
QU Strength and Conditioning Department Vision Statement:
To be recognized as a department that prides itself on providing a unique and unparalleled service and does so in a diligent, thoughtful, and well-executed manner.
“Success is the peace of mind which directly results from the self-satisfaction in knowing you made your best possible effort to achieve all that you are capable of.” – John Wooden
Every student-athlete that has the opportunity to work with the Strength and Conditioning staff will be held to the same expectation of success. Not everyone will enjoy the day-to-day grind that they have to go through; But the expectations demanded of the student athletes, and they way these efforts are handled, will ultimately prepare the student-athletes for obstacles on the field of competition and the obstacles of life after college. These standards of high expectations will be asked for on a daily basis until they become habits.
Accountability - The Strength and Conditioning staff will hold each student-athlete accountable not only to themselves but also to their teammates during each training session. Student-athletes are to use their time to work and not to socialize. The student-athletes will be treated like adults and are expected to act like adults.
Respect – The Strength and Conditioning staff will expect each student-athlete to be respectful of their teammates, coaches, themselves and the facility in which they train.
Work Hard – The Strength and Conditioning staff will expect 100% effort from each student- athlete. Good things happen to those who work hard and this will be demanded on a daily basis. Complaining, lying, cheating, and making excuses will not be tolerated. These are qualities that do not lead to success and are not needed in the training environment.
Bobcat Performance Enhancement Principles
Mobility and Stability Optimal performance qualities cannot be reached without adequate joint mobility and stability. Joint Mobility refers to the muscles ability to contract and relax around the joint to allow fluid movement. Joint Stability refers to the muscles that assist in controlling movement. Poor joint mobility and stability can lead to improper muscle length-tension relationships, which can adversely affect performance and can lead to injuries.
Multiple Joint Movements No single body part works in isolation during movement. The body works synergistically (muscles, joints and proprioceptors work together) to produce complex movements. Running, jumping, shooting and throwing all require multiple joint actions timed in synchronized neuromuscular recruitment patterns. Thus, integrated movements should be trained, not individual muscles, if the goal is to maximize function and performance.
Multiple Plane Movements Movement in sport occurs in three planes- sagittal (forward-backward), frontal (side-to- side) and transverse (rotational) - and combinations of all three. Resistance training will include exercises and movement patterns that develop strength and efficiency in each plane concentrically, isometrically and eccentrically.
Ground-Based Movements Most sport skills are initiated by applying force in to the ground, on one leg or two. The more force an athlete can apply against the ground, the faster they will accelerate, the higher they will jump and the more effective they will be in sport. Resistance exercises will be chosen to enhance this ability to generate force. Squatting (single and double-leg) and explosive movements (Olympic lifts and loaded jumps, plyometrics) are recognized as the best movements for this purpose.
Rate of Force Development Training The ability to generate force at high rates of speed (power) is crucial in sport. Power output is the result of motor unit recruitment by the central nervous system. There are two types of motor units- fast and slow- that vary greatly in their ability to generate force. Training explosively, using ground-based, multiple joint movements trains the body to recruit fast motor units at high rates of speed. This, in turn, improves performance potential.
Periodization Performance gains will eventually plateau and even diminish if the same training prescription is continually followed. Periodization is a scientifically proven model that uses different combinations of volume, load (intensity) and exercise specificity to progressively overload the body and bring about specific adaptations.
Speed and Agility Training An essential link between the weight room and the playing field is speed and agility training. It is taking what the athlete has developed through training in the weight room and links it to sport. Speed (straight ahead) and agility (lateral movement and change of direction) are a crucial component to the training program.
Work Capacity Being the best at what you do means not only possessing great strength, power, and speed, but also requires that you have the work capacity to sustain a workload during competition and practice. Each athlete will go through comprehensive work capacity training (conditioning). During the off-season, work capacity will be general, and, as the competitive season approaches, work capacity will become more specific.
Nutrition and Regeneration No training program can be successful without a commitment to nutrition, rest and a healthy lifestyle. Decrements in performance can often be traced to a poor diet, poor sleep habits, and/or lack of recovery time. Through continual education, each athlete will learn what, when, and how to consume food based around training, competition, and on a day to day basis.
Becoming the best possible athlete requires more than talent, consistent training and a commitment to nutrition. A foundation that includes resolve, discipline, courage, perseverance and selflessness is essential for true success. These attributes must be emphasized, developed and rewarded during training.
Want to share how your department is structured?
Contact us at info@IUSCA.org and share how your department runs on a daily basis