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What to look for when selecting a Strength & Conditioning Coach

The time has arrived for you to start searching for a Strength & Conditioning (S&C) Coach for your Child.

Perhaps they’re taking their sport more seriously? Or they need to build their body up for the extra training they’re doing? Or maybe it’s to balance their bodies or develop their athleticism?

Most likely it’s a combination of all of the above.

So, do you use the local Personal Trainer (PT)? Or ask your uncle – he has a gym at his house – to write a program? There’s that big guy at the gym you use… He must know what he’s talking about!

Below I have simplified what criteria are essential, what is nice to have and what to look out for.

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The Essentials

1) Degree

A degree doesn’t automatically ensure the S&C Coach is quality but it does eliminate the following potentials from working with your child:

  1. Former Athlete who thinks because they have competed they know how to Coach;
  2. the Meat Head who is more interested in bench press, biceps and supplements than Athletic Development;
  3. 6-Week-PT who completed a course that was mainly online.

The degree, typically three to four years, should be in Sport Science, Exercise Science, Human Movement Science or, ideally, Exercise Physiology.

2) 5 Years Experience

Think about the first few years of your own career, especially the mistakes you made while you were gaining experience.

Now ask yourself: Do I want this Coach to gain their experience (read: make their mistakes) on my Child?

By finding a Coach who has at least five years of experience you’re decreasing the amount of mistakes they’ll make.

3) ASCA Level 2 (or 3)

The Australian Strength & Conditioning Association (ASCA) is the peak body for performance coaching in Australia.

Currently there are circa 6,600 S&C Coaches registered with the ASCA; with about 350 who have progressed to Level 2 and only about 34 who have attained the criteria to reach Level 3.

Ensure your potential Coach is at least a Level 2 (or approximately in the top 5% of S&C Coaches).

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The Nice-to-Haves

1) Accredited Exercise Physiologist

To become an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP – registered with Exercise & Sport Science Australia) is an extensive process.

To maintain the accreditation the AEP must continually update their knowledge and provide evidence they have done so.

In other words, you have a better chance of the Coach being well trained; and continues to professionally develop themselves and not stuck in their ways.

Contracting an AEP also means you’ll have the option of claiming rebates if you have private health insurance.

2) Employed by two different Institutions

Ask for their résumé and look for employment by at least 2 different institutions.

The point here is to ensure the Coach has varied experience to draw from and has been exposed to different methods of training and thinking.

So whether they were employed at different schools, clubs, State or National Sporting Organisations (S/NSO) it doesn’t really matter.

What is important is they’ve built a breadth of experience that prevents them from thinking there is only one correct way to do things.

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Buyer Beware

1) The Insta-Guru

Do an online search for the potential Coach, specifically looking at their blogs, social media and other digital footprints.

You’ll recognise the Insta-Guru Coaches on social media who 1) train shirtless or in skimpy clothing; and 2) most of their posts are about them (this is where their focus is).

2) The Numbers Coach

When interviewing the Coach, be wary if they emphasise 1) the results of their young Athletes; 2) how much the Athletes are lifting.

For young Athletes the emphasis should be on their processes (not the results) and their technique (not the weight) of their exercises.

There is plenty of time later on in their careers to worry about results and gym numbers.

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Conclusion

Adding S&C into your Child’s program can be some of the most fun and most beneficial activity they do during the week.

It can go a long way in preventing injury, improving development and setting up an active and healthy life.

So be selective in who you choose to work with your child.

Grant Jenkins is passionate that young athletes are exposed to the right type of training at the right time. For more information please contact him here or follow him on Twitter @Grant_Jenkins

About Grant

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