What Does a Strength and Conditioning Coach Do and How Can You Get Into the Industry?

A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) exists in a very specific niche. The whole idea is that they train athletes and other performance-based clients in their given skill or sport. What Does a Strength and Conditioning Coach Do and How Can You Get Into the Industry? They do this regardless of age or skill level and can improve performance and motor skills, and reduce the likelihood of injury.

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Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists accomplish this by using exercise prescriptions to enhance their clients’ competitive advantages. Aerobic conditioning and strength training are part of the formula, along with other methods. What Does a Strength and Conditioning Coach Do and How Can You Get Into the Industry?

Rigorous training, education, and certification are necessary to get into the CSCS industry. What Does a Strength and Conditioning Coach Do and How Can You Get Into the Industry? If it’s something you’re seriously considering, we recommend getting a CSCS study guide. The pass rate of the CSCS certification is only around 56%, so you’ll need every advantage you can get. Think of a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist study guide as your very own coach!

Let’s take a look at the difference between a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a personal trainer, the qualities of a great CSCS, and how to get into the industry.

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Versus Certified Personal Trainer

While a Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist sound like they’d be the same thing, they’re quite different. Both require extensive knowledge about anatomy and nutrition, exercise instruction, and developing a training program. Despite these similarities, they have very different purposes and focuses.

In most cases, a Certified Personal Trainer assists clients in getting in shape, losing weight, and improving how their body looks. This work is usually done one-on-one in a health club or fitness center up to several days per week. Certified Personal Trainers create custom programs for their clients tailored to their needs. Weight loss, muscle building, and general fitness are usually the goals for Certified Personal Trainer clients.

Certified Personal Trainers assist with motivation, exercise instruction, and general nutrition. They must adapt their program to keep their clients moving in the right direction even when they plateau. CPTs must also be proficient in training those with disabilities, mobility issues, or obesity.

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists have many of the same responsibilities except they work exclusively with athletes to improve athletic performance first and foremost. Their training programs may be periodized to work within the structure of seasonal play and down periods.

Different sports, and even different roles within team sports, can have different physical demands that a CSCS needs to be aware of. A CSCS program can include any combination of balance training, strength training, power training, speed and agility training, skill drills, and flexibility training.

What Makes a Great Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist?

Before you decide if becoming a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist is for you, consider these five qualities that all great CSCSs have.

  • Energetic

While athletes are often highly motivated by their drive to achieve, their CSCS needs to not only keep up but set the pace. You need to be able to tell when a client needs rest or is mentally checking out and adjust energy levels accordingly.

  • Adaptable

Being able to think and adapt on the fly is essential. A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist must be tuned in to their client and ready to change it up at a moment’s notice. This can mean changing the exercise or shifting to help the client regain their focus.

  • Team Player

It’s possible you may be working with an entire team instead of just individuals. Even so, developing a training program for each athlete’s needs is a must. Each role is different and each athlete is different, and they all need to succeed and avoid injury.

  • Results-Oriented

If you aren’t delivering results, you have no reason to be there. Results are easily measured in large improvements, but small ones are often where winners are made. The margin of difference between 1st and 2nd place can often be measured in a fraction of a second or inch.

  • Lifelong Learner

There is always more to know and you can’t afford to fall behind the curve when working with athletes. Being a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist means mastering a broad range of skills, not just physical fitness. Plus, you have to earn CEUs (Continuing Education Units) to maintain your CSCS certification.

How to Get Into the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Industry

If you’ve spent time volunteering, had an internship, or had other kinds of hands-on experience doing similar work to a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, you already have an advantage. Dedication counts and can make the difference between two otherwise qualified candidates.

Regarding formal training, many positions require a B.A. in a health or fitness field. Sports medicine, exercise physiology, exercise science, and kinesiology are all possible four-year degrees. Obtaining and maintaining certification for strength and conditioning training is a must-have.

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