During the Christmas break I always have a little more free time than I do during any other time of the year. Because of that, I always seem to spend a lot of time listening to and catching up podcasts like the Strength Coach Podcast or Ron McKeefery’s Iron Game Chalk Talk, but even a little more time is spent reading. One book I made my way through over the break was Strength Coach: A Call to Serve by East Carolina Director of Strength and Conditioning Jeff Connors.
Since the book had such great reviews, when it arrived I started reading it the same day. When you have heard that it was such a great book you tend to not waste any time. And I have to admit, it didn’t disappoint at all, it was an awesome book. I think it literally took me two days from start to finish, I just couldn’t put the book down.
The book is essentially a memoir of Coach Connors coaching career coupled with some theories and strength training programs that Coach Connors has used and currently uses with his football team at East Carolina University and during his time at the University of North Carolina. The book takes you step by step through Coach Connors career, from his young days growing up in a hard working family in Pennsylvania, to his days as a police officer in Florida, to his first job as a Head Strength Coach at Bucknell, to his days at East Carolina and North Carolina.
An aspect that Coach Connors talks about a lot in the book is forging the character of athletes through their time with him in the weight room. Much like Joe Ehrmann’s thoughts on coaching in his book InsideOut Coaching, Coach Connors places a great emphasis on developing good people, not just good athletes. Athletes should not only improve their athletic performance and decrease the potential for injuries because of the time spent with their strength coach, but athletes should also become a better person for spending time around any coach, whether it is their sport coach or their strength coach, an aspect that has not been lost on Coach Connors throughout his coaching career.
From an actual strength and conditioning standpoint, Coach Connors lays out his year-round program at East Carolina. One thing that I found very interesting was that Coach Connors typically implements a three day strength training program in the off-season when most college football programs implement a four day off-season program. On the other hand, Coach Connors spends more time developing linear and lateral speed as well as conditioning, aspects that he feels is somewhat under-trained in many programs and what helps develop his athletes.
All this being said, I highly recommend this book to any strength coach. Not only does Coach Connors do a great job laying out his thought process when it comes to the science of being a strength coach when it comes to his programming, but also his thoughts on being a positive influence on all of his athletes. In my opinion, any Director or Head Strength Coach should seriously consider buying a copy of the book for all of their members on staff – it’s worth it!