Here are a few good tips on finding a good strength coach. As much as it would be nice to say that all strength coaches are created equal, that would be a lie. Here are a few areas that sets the top-notch strength coaches apart from the not-so-great strength coaches.
This may seem like an obvious quality to look for in a strength coach, but unfortunately not all strength coaches have a great educational background. At the very least, a strength coach should have a bachelor’s degree in exercise science/physiology or physical education. In a perfect world a strength coach would have a master’s degree in one of these previously mentioned areas. Most colleges and university are now requiring that a strength coach has a master’s degree which is a good start on making sure all strength coaches have an adequate academic background.
I don’t care how many certifications someone has and how many degrees someone has, hands on experience trumps it all. I would take a strength coach that has been in the trenches, working his/her ass off for years learning their craft, over someone who is fresh out of graduate school with the PhD in exercise science that has never worked with athletes on a daily basis. Nothing is more important than hands on experience running teams and groups.
Who Was the Coaches Mentor(s)
This ties in very closely with experience, but where that experience was gained and who that experience was gained under may be more important than anything else. Year after year, the top handful of strength coaches in the world have their staff picked apart by other schools and training centers. Coaches like Mike Boyle of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, Tommy Moffitt of Louisiana State University, Gayle Hatch, and Mark Verstegen of Athletes’ Performance, and Chris Doyle of the University of Iowa, to name a few, have an ever revolving staff due to THEIR excellent track record of producing great strength coaches.
Is the Coach a Thinker?
This is something that is hard to determine, but designing programs for athletes require a good coach to take into account numerous variables – if the coach thinks he has a program that is one sizes fits all, he’s probably an idiot. I have personally seen a great strength coach take almost two weeks trying to finalize the next 4 week program for his team – this should be the norm.
How do the Coaches Athletes Respond
Athletes spend a lot of time with their strength coach – maybe more time with him/her than they do their actually sport coach. The relationship that the strength coach has with his/her teams can tell you a lot about the atmosphere the coach has created in the weight room. Yes, there are times when the athletes hate the strength coach – some training sessions and almost all conditioning sessions can really suck, but if the athletes generally enjoy the time they spend in the weight room and it is a positive experience, the coach is probably doing something right.