A strength and conditioning coach (also known as an S&C coach) is a physical performance professional who uses exercise prescription to improve the performance of competitive athletes or athletic teams. This is achieved through the combination of strength training, aerobic conditioning, and other methods.
Unlike an athletic trainer, a strength and conditioning coach is focused primarily on sport performance. The coach helps athletes with injury prevention, through strengthening and coaching of movement mechanics within a sport. While a personal trainer may work with individuals of all fitness levels and focus on health or fitness, strength and conditioning coaches focus on competitive athletes and improving performance in a specific sport. The qualifications for the three professions are not interchangeable, and both strength and conditioning coaches and athletic trainers have more stringent educational requirements than personal trainers.
Strength and conditioning coaches are often employed by higher education institutions and professional athletic teams.
In the private sector, strength and conditioning coaches can work in performance gyms or open their own practice where amateur and professional athletes can train. This is a popular option for athletes during their off-season when access to official team facilities is less convenient. Furthermore, strength and conditioning coaches can work remotely with clients/athletes of all experience levels through "online coaching" which is becoming increasingly popular.
Strength and conditioning coaches have the option to specialize in a particular sports team, type of performance, training type, training philosophy, or work in the collegiate level, where they are assigned a sport. The general description and duty of a strength and conditioning coach is to develop an exercise prescription plan that modulates aerobic, resistance, and/or flexibility training to suit the metabolic and physical demands of the sport in question. With aerobic exercise prescription, strength and conditioning coaches determine the type, duration, and frequency of each exercise. For resistance exercise prescription, the type of exercise, total session volume, rest period, frequency, intensity and velocity are determined. They may also be involved in prescription of stretching routines or other approaches. Nutrition and medical consultation are not within their scope of practice and training qualifications.
In the US, The National Strength and Conditioning Association offers a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) qualification that is often considered the gold standard for positions in the field. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for the CSCS and it is encouraged to attain such degree in majors that are related to exercise science due to the competitiveness of the field.
The Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Coaches association also offers certification exclusive to the collegiate and professional-level strength and conditioning coach. This certification is known as Strength & Conditioning Coach Certified (SCCC) and requires a bachelor's degree and a 640-hour internship in addition to passing the certification exam.
Strength and conditioning in the UK is generally overseen by The United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) and The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) . Both organisations provide regulations and standards for employers and professionals. A UKSCA membership and Bachelor's degree in sport and exercise science are generally accepted by many professional sports clubs as prerequisites for strength and conditioning positions. As well as the UKSCA and CIMSPA, 1st4sport Qualifications offer standardised training in accordance with other official National Governing Body qualifications.
On a global scale, there are several recognized certifications. The Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA) offers a range of coaching qualifications that will be acceptable by most employers. The International Universities Strength and Conditioning Association (IUSCA) also offers a Degree Accreditation, that is awarded by universities delivering Bachelor degrees in S&C and Sport Science.
The implementation of effective strength and conditioning programmes has led to an increase in speed and strength. Research has demonstrated that not only does training improve performance but incorrect training (distance running, a slow-twitch muscle fiber activity, in football athletes with fast-twitch characteristics) can cause decrements to performance. Using techniques such as velocity based training and plyometrics in some high-power athletes and sports-specific movements in others, strength coaches may improve physical function and athletic performance while potentially lowering the risk of some sporting injuries.
- "Strength & Conditioning - English Institute of Sport". English Institute of Sport. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
- "Strength and conditioning coach". Human Kinetics. 2011-08-25. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Should You Try Online Fitness Coaching?". Shape. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
- Kraemer, WJ. Exercise Physiology: Integrating Theory and Application. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Chapter 12. Ahead of print, March 2011.
- "Becoming a Strength and Conditioning Coach". Retrieved 27 September 2016.
- "About Us". CSCCA.org. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
- "ASCA Accreditation".
- "Lincoln BSc IUSCA Accreditation".
- "S&C Degree Accreditation". IUSCA. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
- Lombard, Wayne P.; Durandt, Justin J.; Masimla, Herman; Green, Mervin; Lambert, Michael I. (2015). "Changes in Body Size and Physical Characteristics of South African Under-20 Rugby Union Players over a 13-Year Period". Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 29 (4): 980–988. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000724. PMID 25387267. S2CID 23819233.
- Izquierdo, Mikel; Häkkinen, Keijo; Gonzalez-Badillo, Juan J.; Ibáñez, Javier; Gorostiaga, Esteban M. (1 July 2002). "Effects of long-term training specificity on maximal strength and power of the upper and lower extremities in athletes from different sports". European Journal of Applied Physiology. 87 (3): 264–271. doi:10.1007/s00421-002-0628-y. ISSN 1439-6319. PMID 12111288. S2CID 30672886.
- Karsten, Bettina; Stevens, Liesbeth; Colpus, Mark; Larumbe-Zabala, Eneko; Naclerio, Fernando (2016-01-01). "The Effects of a Sport-Specific Maximal Strength and Conditioning Training on Critical Velocity, Anaerobic Running Distance, and 5-km Race Performance" (PDF). International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 11 (1): 80–85. doi:10.1123/ijspp.2014-0559. ISSN 1555-0273. PMID 25946163.
- Kraemer, WJ. Exercise Physiology: Integrating Theory and Application. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Ahead of print, March 2011.
- van der Horst, Nick; Smits, Dirk-Wouter; Petersen, Jesper; Goedhart, Edwin A.; Backx, Frank J. G. (June 2015). "The preventive effect of the nordic hamstring exercise on hamstring injuries in amateur soccer players: a randomized controlled trial". The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 43 (6): 1316–1323. doi:10.1177/0363546515574057. ISSN 1552-3365. PMID 25794868. S2CID 22252367.