It seems that the first question everyone asks each other when meeting someone new is "What do you do?" When you're young that question tends to be "Where do you go to school?" or "What grade are you in?" But as adults, the first tends to be the one we get. It's what a lot of us identify ourselves by. So what am I? What are all of us coaches?
Well there's the obvious answer that, yes, we are coaches. But are we Personal Trainers? Some of us work one on one with people, but a majority of our work is in group settings. Are we Performance Coaches? That's pretty accurate, our goal is to increase performance. Speed Coaches? Also true, we do teach speed.
Personally, I prefer the term Strength and Conditioning Coach. Cliché as it is, the term covers all of the above different titles. Our job is to increase performance for both individuals and teams, teach speed and agility skills, and help people meet their personal goals. Our job combines all of the above specialties and ties them together. Regardless of what you call it, our role holds a lot of value.
Strength and Conditioning coaches play a crucial role in sport performance, from beginner athletes to the professional level. Our job is to make sure an athlete is not only to play without suffering injury, but also increase performance by creating specific scenarios that the body has to adapt to. In a weird way, we're like the engineers or mechanics behind a racecar: to win a race a car has to have a strong engine, great maneuverability, and also resilient.
What's also true, is that just like a racecar it is easy to overlook those things. We only see the performance on the field. We see the ferocious dunk, unbelievable catch, or jaw dropping pitch all the time, but we don't see what went into it. In many ways, what we do isn't measurable by numbers on scorecard, game stats, or other external markers. Much of what we do is internal, judged by the way the athlete feels, their own resilience, and their ability to remain injury free.
The latter fact being why we're so important. Sport coaches are there to teach an athlete how to win games using specific skill sets and tactics. Our job is to make sure an athlete makes it far enough to have those opportunities. Every skill has a co-requisite physical ability that will make that skill effective. Knowing how to tackle and being physically able to tackle are two different things. While a Football should be the one teaching an player how to tackle, a Strength and Conditioning coach is the one creating the ability to tackle in the first place.
And when it comes to injury, Strength and Conditioning coaches are at the forefront of trying to prevent them. Injuries are inevitable in sport, but managing the severity of them, the time it takes to return to the game, and doing our best to prevent them can be huge in the life of an athlete. Strength and Conditioning coaches are there to identify the things that put an athlete at risk, attack those weaknesses, and build an athlete that has resilience and can handle the task of their sport.
For many, these are things that they haven't yet realized. For others, they've heard of Strength and Conditioning coaches and haven't understood what they are there for. We're more than just meatheads and muscle bound jocks, we're the builders with a shed full of tools to use when building an athlete. We're not only here to get someone stronger, we're here to build something great.