Chasing a Masters degree in Performance?

Having taken on an average six interns every year since 2005 I often have many of the same questions come up.

A frequent discussion for those coming to the end of their degree is about 'further study' so I've decided to put my thoughts into this blog post.

Typically two main programs have been mentioned in the past few years: the ACU Masters of High Performance and the ECU Masters of Strength & Conditioning.

A quick search shows the following:

ACU Masters of High Performance

  • Average first year fee: $17,240 Fee-Paying (indicative only)
  • 1.5 years of full-time study
  • Mainly online

ECU Masters of Strength & Conditioning

  • $18,300
  • 2 Week intensive in Perth
  • 8 of 9 units are online

Bearing in mind the costs of flights, accomodation (for the face-to-face), books, additional extras, opportunity costs and that the $18k is post-tax, let's assume you'd have to earn at least $25,000 to finish the course.

Next, let's explore what other education pathways and opportunities you could choose instead.



This is what I chose and it was one of the best investments into my education I could've hoped for.

Borrowing the money from my parents, I lived frugally but gained fifty hours of experience a week in a multi-disciplinary medical practice that had the contract with a SuperRugby team (the Sharks) and attracted some of the best Athletes in the region.

There was a nice mix of:

  • implementing my Preceptor's programs (learning different ways to program);
  • writing and implementing my own programs (applying the knowledge is crucial!);
  • gaining experience in high performance and general population health;
  • working with junior Athletes (and their Parents) and elite Athletes; and of course
  • observing the radiologist, sport physicians, physiotherapists and the dietitian was invaluable.

$25k is approximately $500 per week - enough to live on, and in the right place, a fantastic investment.

NOTE: Make sure you earn the right to take on increasingly greater amounts of ownership. You are wasting your time if you're only observing.

There are other ways you could spend your money.

Below are some examples that might stimulate your thoughts.



Imagine what you could learn, the network you could grow or the experience you could gain at a US College, in the NBA, NFL or MLB.

There are literally thousands of colleges in the US, and plenty more professional teams, that you could contact.

And right now there are a growing number of Australian S&C coaches doing a great job in many of those teams. Reach out to them and offer your services.

A few things to consider:

  • Which sports do you want to learn from?
  • Do you want to be there for the Sport's pre-season or in-season?
  • Would you prefer to be at a big school (and perhaps only work with one sport) or a smaller school (where you could service the whole athletic department)?

As a thought experiment I chose Notre Dame:

  • Flights to Chicago: $2,800;
  • 3 months accomodation in a private room on Airbnb: $3,000.
  • Airport transfers and taxi: $200.

Food and other expenses wouldn't be too dissimilar from home.



I've assumed you've already received your ASCA Level 1 by the time you've graduated so let's look at what else you should be aiming for.

Australian Strength & Conditioning Association Level 2 - $1,000

At the time of writing there are approximately 6,600 S&C coaches and only 450 of those are Level 2. In other words you've separated yourself from the majority of the herd with this qualification.

The course is held over two weekends and typically has three to five delegates who hold positions of employment power, so it's a good way of improving knowledge and building your network.

Australian Weightlifting Federation Level 1 (Club level) - $550

Weightlifting movements aren't the be all and end all of training BUT Coaches who are competent at coaching and teaching the O-lifts can usually transfer their coaching and teaching to most other exercises and athletic movements.

Sports Medicine Australia Sports Trainer - $285

Almost every invasion sport (think: football, netball, hockey, etc.) team will need a Strapper at some point, so it's a great 'in'.

Many of us got a start with strapping, building to a rehab role and then progressing to an S&C job.

With this qualification you can offer your services to almost every club and school.

Of course, you could ask someone who knows how to strap professionally to show you the ropes and do it for FREE.


CONFERENCES - $6,600 (+$1,000*)

ASCA International Conference - $2,250

The ASCA conference is a must. Lock it in now.

Budget $1000 for the actual conference.

Understanding you should look at maximising the content delivered AND the networking opportunities it's best to stay in the official hotel or as close as your budget allows. You'll find yourself having breakfast, lunch and drinks with decision-makers and future decision-makers.

Accomodation will add approximately $250 per night (total $750) and transport (flights and taxis) could add another $500.

Once you've signed up, read this article and this one on maximising your conference experience.

NSCA National Conference - $3,350

This conference could be a great opportunity to meet the decision makers who could help you spend time at a US College.

  • Flights to Las Vegas: $1,800
  • Accomodation (@ $200/night): $800
  • Conference: $750

Disclosure: I have never attended the NSCA conference.

* + $1,000

Whether the conference I'm attending is at home (in Brisbane) or on the other side of the world (e.g.New York City), I reach out to the other delegates and presenters and lock in time for a visit or coffee.

This ensures I maximise the conference information and build deeper relationships.

For example, a few years ago, when I heard Darren Roberts was presenting at the ASCA conference I made sure we caught up and spent some time together (he also presented at my Junior Sport Science Symposium).

Another example: after the Leaders in Performance conference (NYC) I spent some time with Jeremy Bettle (at that time JB was Head S&C of the Brooklyn Nets).

So budget to cover the extra travel, accomodation and food to meet with those you've connected with at the conference.


ACADEMIC - $1,000

Ensuring you have a sound theoretical foundation plays a massive part in high performance training.

I have a rule called the Rule of Thirds: one third of my reading comes from sources which are usually high on theory and low on practicality (e.g. Journals); one third comes from the other extreme (e.g. blogs, social media, etc.) and one third is from books which can be in between.

Below are some 'go tos' when it comes to improving your theory:

  • Journal of Strength & Conditioning subscription: $525
  • Supertraining (Siff): $75
  • Science and Practice of Strength Training (Zatsiorksy): $30
  • Starting Strength (Rippetoe): $30
  • Soviet Training and Recovery Methods For Competitive Athletes (Brunner): $40

The above list totals $700, they'll improve your coaching and can almost guarantee you'll read them more than once.

Aim to spend another $300 based off recommendations from your Mentors.

If you've read this far I probably don't have to tell you this but I am going to do it anyway: buying the books is not good enough - you need to read them.

Set aside an hour every week day to work your way through the books.



This is potentially one of the biggest areas you can grow in: experience!

Team Experience - Free (possibly paid)

Find a school or club team (the level doesn't matter!) that will allow you to put into practice all you've learnt.

Practice planning a 15 minute warm up and then having the Coach tell you you've only got five minutes.

Practice working out how to run a session that improves their speed, strength, endurance and resilience in your allocated ten minute block.

Practice dealing with the confusion of having a great training week and terrible result and then having a terrible training week and a great result.

Individual Experience - Free (possibly paid)

Whether they're players from the teams you coach or athletes from another environment, take them on and improve their athleticism.

Track their progress. Track your own progress.


BE COACHED - $5,000

Hire a Coach to train you. You'll learn a lot.

It doesn't matter if you join a weightlifting, powerlifting, track and field, gymnastics or martial arts club - just join as an Athlete. Also, make sure you stick with it for a minimum of three months.

Experience what works and what doesn't; what you like and what you don't.

Be able to talk from a place of experience.

Many experienced Coaches have done, and continue to do, this.

In fact, we have a waiting list for Coaches who want to train with us.

We train them with our Athletes so they get the full experience of understanding what Elite Athletes put themselves through (they also get more background into the theory of the training). Contact us to find out more here.



Don't believe me that there is valuable information available for FREE on the net?

Below are a list of videos from YouTube:

From the Blogosphere:

Spend some time evaluating the information provided and then sign up to a few newsletters and subscribe to some YouTube channels.

Make sure you're putting into practice the things you are learning about (see section above).

 TOTAL - $21,435

There we have it, two alternatives to continuing your university (mainly online) studying which may open your eyes, build your experience and grow your network.

Worth considering.

About Grant