Should I become a Strength and Conditioning coach?
Course Lead for Strength and Conditioning
Nowadays, many people use exercise to help improve their abilities in a chosen sport, as
well as to stay fit and healthy.
There is also a section of the population that participates in sport as a career, and for these people applied strength and conditioning (S&C) is considered a crucial part of their everyday life. But how do the skills of the S&C coach differ from those of a personal trainer, and can S&C enhance the career of a PT?
Difference between the S&C coach and PT
From the outside looking in, both of these professions deal with very similar people and do very similar jobs, so it is important to understand the key differences between the two roles before deciding on whether to pursue a particular route.
Fundamentally, both roles deal with a person’s ability to meet the demands of their environment without undue stress, and this is the first point to consider. Most clients in the hands of a PT will want some sort of improvement in their general lifestyle, physical health, and risk of disease.
Clients of an S&C coach (notably, athletes) operate in more challenging environments on a regular basis, and as a result are likely to require sport-specific physical conditioning to be
better able to deal with such demands. In light of this, we have a clear difference in the
specificity of the environment being prepared for – resulting in greater specificity in
preparation and planning by the S&C coach.
Whereas the PT may look at general movement patterns for their client and add resistance
to aid progression to their goal, an S&C coach will look at analysing the chosen sport
of the athlete and have an understanding of movement biomechanics – observation
and interpretation of the forces produced within those movements, and the timings
and co-ordination of those movements. This knowledge helps the S&C coach to
understand where the greater forces are, and how to develop strength to withstand those
forces using specific exercise methods and protocols.
In addition to performance enhancement, there is also a key responsibility towards
injury prevention. Important objectives of an S&C coach are to:
• develop correct exercise skill or technique
• improve the strength base of all athletes
• individualise programs to address specific strengths and weaknesses
• improve athletes’ sports specific movements and techniques
• improve athletes’ physical conditioning
When it comes to programme planning, S&C coaches must also demonstrate understanding of an periodization principles and apply these to training programmes. In this way, training objectives can be effectively met in relation to the competitive and noncompetitive
season – as opposed to ‘just going to the gym regularly’.
S&C is often perceived by many as just being the advancement of strength capabilities; however, it covers a much wider knowledge base and skill set that also includes SAQ, endurance, power, plyometrics, body weight management, and movement biomechanics. With this in mind, it’s important for S&C coaches to keep abreast of any advances within the
profession, whether working with individual athletes, local clubs, or professional sports
As your skill set improves across many sports, so too will your reputation, opening many more doors to enhance your career and develop more pathways for progression.
All Fitness ___ Garrath Pledger