Sport Essay Example About Strength and Conditioning Coaches

Published: 2022-09-14
Sport Essay Example About Strength and Conditioning Coaches
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Sport Profession
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1535 words
13 min read

Strength and conditioning coaching is one of the career areas in fitness training. A person who decides to pursue a career in fitness training can become a personal trainer, a group exercise instructor, a strength and conditioning coach, or a fitness center owner or manager. A personal trainer works with individual persons to help them attain their fitness goals. Group exercise instructors have the same mandate as personal trainers. However, rather than directing a single client at a time, they lead a group of clients. Similar to a personal trainer and group exercise instructor, a strength and conditioning coach (S&C) helps clients to improve their physical fitness. However, an S&C coach differs from the former two fitness occupations in one fundamental way-an S&C coach works with clients who want to improve their skill and performance in a particular sport. A fitness center owner or manager oversees operations of a fitness center rather than directing clients towards achieving their fitness goals. From the above definitions, it is apparent that the primary role of an S&C coach is to help clients improve their performance and proficiency in a particular sport.

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Strength and conditioning coaches work in different settings. Most of them work with clients who participate in high-level competition sports. Such ports include athletics, cricket, rugby, swimming, dancing, and combat sports, for example, boxing, wrestling, karate, and judo (Australian College of Physical Education, 2017). Thus, most S&C coaches work with individuals who take part in globally renowned sports, which can present them with challenges and excellent career opportunities. Due to the nature of their work, S&C coaches find employment in institutions that engage in sports. Such institutions include universities, colleges, high schools, physical therapy clinics, fitness centers, professional sports teams, and companies participating in sports performance-enhancement for a profit. Professional associations for S&C coaches such as National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and regulators of sports, for example, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) also employ these coaches (American Kinesiology Association, 2011). Therefore, a professional S&C coach can land a job in a wide array of institutions that engage in or promote sports.

Duties and Responsibilities

Strength and conditioning coach primary duties and responsibilities revolve around improving athlete's performance in a particular sport and reigning on injuries. According to American Kinesiology Association (2011), one of the duties that an S&C coach should perform is to improve the strength, power, and speed of an athlete, although the performance aspects vary according to sports. The coaches also develop training programs, teach appropriate weightlifting methods, motivate and supervise trainees, and evaluate the performance of training participants. Duehring, Feldmann, and Ebben (2009) also identify duties of S&C coaches as physical testing (assessing the physical fitness of an athlete) and speed, agility, power, and flexibility development. Plyometric also constitutes one of the exercises S&C coaches prescribe. Thus, an S&C coach can perform several duties with the aim of improving athlete's performance and physical strength. Besides, S&C coaches are supposed to minimize athletic injuries. To this end, the coaches prescribe training exercises aimed at strengthening body organs that are susceptible to injury in a specific sport.

Besides offering fitness tutoring and reducing athletic injuries, S&C coaches provide psychological guidance to athletes, perform administrative duties, and sometimes provide nutritional advice. According to Radcliffe, Comfort, and Fawcett (2018), some of the psychological responsibilities performed by S&C coaches include counseling, teaching ethical behavior among athletes, and mentoring. These psychological duties primarily seek to build the mental toughness (MT) of athletes. Figure 1 below shows S&C coaches in class with student-athletes in an exercise aimed at improving their mental toughness. Therefore, the ability to support athletes emotionally comprises one of the critical roles S&C coaches have to perform regularly. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018) indicates that S&C coaches should also keep performance record of athletes and their opponents, recruit potential athletes, and arrange for the motivation of prospective players. Thus, S&C coaches also perform some forms of administrative duties in their work.

Technical and Non-Technical Skills

Starting a successful career as an S&C coach requires a combination of both hard and soft skills. Hard skills accrue from professional training and experience. American Kinesiology Association (2011) indicates that at a minimum, an S&C coach should have a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, with kinesiology major being the ideal. Thus, at a minimum, an S&C coach should be a graduate. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018) corroborates the above position by indicating that one needs a bachelor's degree to become an S&C coach. Besides the degree, American Kinesiology Association (2011) intimates that acquiring relevant certification is critical in starting an S&C coaching career. Although there are many bodies offering certifications in strength and conditioning coaching, American Kinesiology Association recommends Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) provided by National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Education alone is not enough to make one a successful strength and conditioning coach. American Kinesiology Association (2011, p. 40) quotes director of strength and conditioning for Olympic sports at Iowa State University, Andrew Moser, as saying that besides having relevant educational background, S&C coaches need certain traits, such as the ability to communicate, motivate, and interact with people of different personalities to succeed in their work. Thus, S&C coaches need excellent interpersonal skills to deliver on their job. Greener, Petersen, and Pinske (2013) identify going beyond the job description as one of the traits that S&C coaches need to succeed in their jobs. Thus, S&C coaches need to take initiatives aimed at improving the outcome of their work even if such actions do not form part of their job description. Other success traits for S&C coaches that Greener et al. (2017) enumerate include showing great passion, energy, and enthusiasm for the job, exhibiting professional outlook and demeanor, committing to continuous learning, paying attention to details, and remaining strategic (seeing the bigger picture). Consequently, personal traits that show extreme commitment to S&C coaching is essential for career success in the field.


S&C coaching has more male than female representation. According to Acosta (2014), since the 1970s, there have been more intercollegiate male coaches than female. By the year 2014, 1 in 4.5 of all teams at the U.S. college level had a female coach. The ratio means about 22% of all collegial teams in the U.S. (whether male or female) are coached by women, which leaves 78% of the rest of the teams at the hands of women. Figure 2 below has more information.

From Figure 2 above, it is clear that male coaches are more than female coaches are in America's intercollegiate sport. Male coaches also appear to be in dominance even when it comes to training female teams. Figure 3 below depicts the proportion of male and female strength and conditioning coaches in the U.S. intercollegiate sport. What one can infer from Figure 3 is that the male gender dominates strength and conditioning coaching in the U.S.

Future Trends

Career prospects for strength and conditioning coaches are promising in the next five to ten years. According to Cohen (2018), the U.S. gym, health & fitness clubs industry is expected to realize an annual growth rate of 1.5% between the years 2018-2023. Revenue for the sector is expected to increase from the current $33.7 (2018) billion to 36.4 billion in 2023. Being an industry that employs a significant number of S&C coaches, such projected growth is expected to generate additional employment opportunities. Cohen (2018) projects that total employment (coaches and non-coaches) for the industry will increase from 808,664 in 2018 to 883,727 in 2023, representing a 9.2% growth rate. Thus, strength and conditioning coaches will find more employment opportunities in commercially oriented fitness organizations. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018) puts employment opportunities growth rate for S&C coaches and scouts between the years 2016 and 2026 at 13 %. Thus, in general, the future looks promising for S&C professionals.


Acosta, R. V. (2014). Women in intercollegiate sport: A longitudinal, national study thirty-seven year update. Retrieved from Acosta/Carpenter website:

American Kinesiology Association. (2011). Careers in sport, fitness, and exercise (1st ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Australian College of Physical Education. (2017). Strength & conditioning coach. Retrieved from

Cohen, A. (2018). Gym, health & fitness clubs in the US (IBISWorld Industry Report 71394). IBISWorld.

Duehring, M. D., Feldmann, C. R., & Ebben, W. P. (2009). Strength and conditioning practices of United States high school strength and conditioning coaches. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(8), 2188-2203. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181bac62d

Greener, T., Petersen, D., & Pinske, K. (2013). Traits of successful strength and conditioning coaches. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 35(1), 90-93. doi:10.1519/ssc.0b013e3182822597

Radcliffe, J. N., Comfort, P., & Fawcett, T. (2018). The perceived psychological responsibilities of a strength and conditioning coach. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 32(10), 2853-2862. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000001656

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018, April 13). Coaches and scouts : Occupational outlook handbook. Retrieved from

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