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.
University of California, Los Angeles
In this article we'll be looking in to the Athletic Performance Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. The UCLA Bruins are the athletic team that officially represent the University of California, Los Angeles in college sports. As part of the NCAA's Division I, UCLA field 22 varsity level sports teams, most of which compete in the Pac-12 Conference and the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). However, UCLA do compete outside of these divisions with their football team competing in the Football Bowl Subdivision of Division I. UCLA have had many years of success within the NCAA's Division I, winning 118 National championships (including team championships, individual championships, and combined team and individual championships), with only Stanford University winning more than them.
UCLA Athletic Performance Department
The UCLA Athletic Performance training philosophy is the foundation for how we operate. Our philosophy has been built through education, personal experiences and is continually influenced by coaches and athletes who have graced our program over the years. It is an ever evolving system for how we manage our athletes and our teams to ensure they reach their full potential both physically and mentally, on and off the field. Our training methods are athlete-driven, as we believe that catering to the individual will increase the success of the team. This is accomplished through the development of an individualized training program delivered in a team environment with low coach-to-athlete ratios. We take a concurrent approach to periodization, ensuring that all necessary qualities of performance are addressed. Through our program, we believe in utilizing ground-based, multi-planar movements as the majority of our exercise selection. We understand that all athletes must possess a mastery of basic human and athletic movements to succeed in their sport. To do this, we utilize fundamental exercises that challenge our athletes through the appropriate ranges of motion in order to create a balanced framework for durability and improved performance. All of these concepts are executed within our system by utilizing a hierarchical approach. Each fundamental area contains a tiered list of movements with inbuilt regressions and lateralizations. Regressions are utilized for building technical proficiencies in physically immature athletes while lateralizations are utilized to elicit a training effect in athletes with movement deficiencies due to previous injuries. Having a system in place where movement proficiency is prioritized enables our athletes to perform at a level that is appropriate for them at all times. This maximizes the athlete’s confidence and success, in conjunction with decreasing the likelihood of injury in training and competition. This system, coupled with sport-specific work : rest ratios, intensities, and training modalities, provide a direct transference to the athlete’s sport. The UCLA Athletic Performance team is also dedicated to developing the culture of each of our teams and the character of each our athletes. We understand that team cohesion, facilitated by performance training, will contribute greatly to a championship culture. Through our coaching methods and athlete interactions, we not only strive to develop better athletes, but better Bruins. Most importantly, we strive to push our athletes to become intentional, resilient, and selfless. Intentional athletes 1) know their goals, 2) do not make excuses and 3) strive to become better every day. Resilient athletes 1) become comfortable being uncomfortable, 2) choose to be positive and 3) never quit. Selfless athletes 1) support their teammates, 2) make decisions that no one else wants to and 3) become great role models. These three words represent the language of our department and the characteristics of successful people that we desire our athletes to become. Lastly, we believe that positively enhancing an athlete’s life is the most fulfilling way to live our own. This is evidenced through the passion that we bring to our coaching, and the success-driven culture that has been created for all of our athletes. We ensure that each athlete under our tutelage knows that we care about him or her first and foremost as a person, and second as an athlete. As much as our schedule will allow, we spend time with our athletes at games, practices and team-based events. In doing so, we strengthen our personal connections and open up opportunities to impact other facets of our athletes’ lives that contribute to their potential, such as sleep, stress management, and general life skills. As coaches, we also strive to be models for living healthy, positive, and balanced lives. This demonstrates that we consistently hold ourselves accountable to the high standard that we are striving to instill in our athletes. This brings our training philosophy full circle, as we develop individuals ready for success in all aspects of life, and most notably the performance of their respective sports.
Acosta Athletic Training Complex – UCLA Olympic Sports
Athletic Performance Staff
Mike Linn, Assistant Athletic Director, Athletic Performance and Administration
Coach Linn is UCLA's Director of Athletic Performance Coach. He oversees a team of seven Assistant Athletic Performance Coaches and two Performance Dieticians. The Athletic Performance Team manages all aspects of the mental and physical development of 600+ Olympic sport athletes at UCLA.
Joe Geletko, Associate Director, Athletic Performance
Joseph joined the UCLA Athletic Performance staff in the summer of 2013 as an Intern. He was hired full time after a brief stint at Pepperdine University in 2014. He is responsible for the implementation of Athletic Performance programs for the UCLA Women’s Soccer, Track and Field, and Beach Volleyball squads. He also coordinates the educational curriculum for the full time staff and Interns.
Adam Garner, Assistant Athletic Performance Coach
Adam joined the UCLA Athletic Performance staff in the summer of 2016 as an intern and NSCA Assistantship Coach. He was hired on full time in the spring of 2017. He is responsible for implementation of Athletic Performance programs for the Softball, Women’s Volleyball, Men’s and Women’s Golf teams. He also serves as the Internship Coordinator.
Dan Rivas, Assistant Athletic Performance Coach
Dan joined the UCLA Athletic Performance Staff in the summer of 2017 as an intern. He was hired as the Graduate Assistant in the summer of 2018 and elevated to the full time staff in spring of 2019. Coach Rivas is responsible for the Men’s Soccer, Swim, and Men’s and Women’s Tennis performance programs.
Jake Bracewell, Assistant Athletic Performance Coach
Jake Joined the UCLA Athletic Performance Staff in the summer of 2019 as the Graduate Assistant. He was then moved to the full time staff in the fall of 2019. Coach Bracewell oversees the Athletic Performance Programs for Baseball, Men’s Water Polo, and Dive.
Wes Long, Assistant Athletic Performance Coach
Wes Long will begin his eleventh season as the Men’s Basketball program’s Athletic Performance coach in 2019-20.
Dave Wood, Assistant Athletic Performance Coach
David Wood was named Assistant Athletic Performance Coach at UCLA in September 2012. Coach Wood is currently the UCLA Women’s Basketball Athletic Performance Coach.
Andrea Cavallari, Graduate Assistant
Andrea Joined the UCLA staff in the summer of 2019 as an intern. He was promoted to Graduate Assistant in the fall of 2019. Coach Andrea is responsible for the Athletic Performance programs for Women’s Rowing and Cross Country.
Jackie Robinson Stadium – UCLA Baseball
Performance Nutrition Staff
Reilly Beatty, Performance Nutrition Coordinator
Reilly joined the UCLA Performance Nutrition staff in August 2019 from California State University, Northridge. At UCLA, Reilly oversees the nutrition Olympic Sports department and runs the nutrition internship program. Reilly specializes in performance nutrition and works the Olympic Sports at UCLA.
Serra Tumay, Olympic Sports Performance Dietitian
Serra joined the UCLA Athletic Performance staff in January 2020. After obtaining her Master in Science degree and completing her dietetic internship at Teachers College Columbia University, Serra worked as a performance nutrition intern for the Cleveland Brown during the 2019 NFL season. At UCLA, she works directly with Olympic Sport athletes to deliver both individual and team nutritional strategies to enhance their overall health & athletic performance.
Casey Thomas, Men’s and Women’s Basketball Performance Dietitian
Casey interned within the Performance Nutrition Department at UCLA in 2017 and graduated with his MS, RD in Nutrition Science with a Sport Specialization in 2018. He is a published scientific author, expert peer reviewer, instructor with UCLA extension, and Performance Dietitian with the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams at UCLA Athletics.
The Mo Ostin Basketball Center – UCLA Men’s and Women’s Basketball
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