Learn more about strength and conditioning coaching by visiting the Web sites of college and professional sports teams. Read industry publications such as Strength and Conditioning Journal and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; these journals are published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (https://www.nsca.com/education/journals). Talk to physical education teachers and sports coaches about strength and conditioning training, and ask for them to arrange an information interview with a professional in the field. Volunteer to work as a coach for one or more high school sports teams.
It's no longer enough for an athlete to rely on natural athletic ability. Most athletes turn to strength and conditioning coaches to bring them to the top of their game. Such coaches identify an athlete's weaknesses, and create a conditioning plan to improve strength, form, speed, agility, and endurance.
The conditioning plan will be determined based on the individual athlete, and the sport in question. For example, basketball players may require workouts for stronger leg muscles and core, while golfers may concentrate on more powerful arm and shoulder muscles. The first step is a thorough assessment of the athlete. Equipment such as treadmills, free weights, and weight machines may be used to gauge speed and strength. Oftentimes, the athlete is hooked up to an EKG machine in order to measure his or her heart rate during the workout. Other equipment and technology may also be used to assess the health and overall conditioning level of the athlete.
After the initial assessment, coaches design and implement a sport-specific program while addressing the goals of each athlete. The time of year, whether or not the sport is in season, may also play a part in designing the program. Conditioning sessions may be scheduled more frequently during the off-season when players do not have regular team practices and games. Coaches use their knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology to suggest exercises to develop strong leg muscles, powerful arm muscles, a strong core, and cardiovascular endurance. These exercises may include free weights, stationary weight machines, and bands. Coaches supervise all sessions to ensure exercises are performed properly. This may prove demanding, especially if the coach is responsible for managing several athletes at one time. Coaches may prescribe plyometrics, or explosive movement exercises, to develop muscular power, which in turn improves an athlete's speed and agility. In addition to building muscle strength, coaches also make sure athletes are in top form in order to avoid injury. They may monitor an athlete's nutrition regimen, and suggest changes in diet or lifestyle.
A coach who oversees an entire strength and conditioning program is known as the lead coach or the head strength and conditioning coach. Depending on the size of the athletic program, they may supervise one or more assistant coaches to help with physical fitness and development. This is especially true if the strength and conditioning coaches are responsible for multiple sports disciplines. The lead coach is also responsible for managing the fitness facility, budgeting for new equipment, overseeing the maintenance and repair of existing equipment, and hiring assistants as needed. The lead coach also works closely with head coaches to ensure that specific strength and conditioning goals are met.