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Meeting of the Minds

Meeting of the Minds

During the begin of this month, had the chance to attend the NJSIAA Strength and Conditioning Coach’s Clinic in Robbinsville, New Jersey and one thing that jumped out at me was the number of attendees.  I thought with people getting a better understanding of the role of the strength coach, more coaches would be there.  The coaches presenting were top notch and you could not beat the price. With other clinics going for rates much higher than the one charged for this one, I thought it was a bargain.  You had guys like John McKenna, strength coach at Notre Dame High School, who has done some work in the South Jersey area, Chuck Mound who I thought wowed people with not only his knowledge but energy as well. These two guys alone were worth the price of admission.

The clinic was very well paced, sometimes you go to these things and you get the one guy who wants to impress everyone with his knowledge and talks on and on until it gets to the point where it is just embarrassing. You didn’t get that here. These guys got up, said what they had to say and stayed within their allotted time and to their credit, none of the presenters seemed rushed by the time slots.

As I sat there and listened, I wondered who I thought made the greatest impact on me as a coach. The one person who I could take the most from and I think it was John McKenna. This was the first time I had heard him lecture and his presentation took us away from the aspect of strength coaching. He actually spent some time talking about things that I think some coaches don’t think about, like, how we probably spend more time with the athletes then their sport coaches.

Preseason, in season, post season, are all times we can spend with our athletes. We get to know things that their coaches may not know about them, we get to see them in other areas of their lives which got to me thinking that sometimes our roles get muddied. Working with coaches who didn’t hire you, you work to create a relationship and let the coach know that you are on their side.  You are there to act as another assistant and make sure that his or her program succeeds.  It is your job to help ease the time crunch that most coaches face and by doing your job, the sport coach no longer has to sit and monitor the training program. Now she or he is freed up to do other things that maybe more pressing to the programs success.

The one drawback I felt was the lack of woman coaches who attended.  I have had the chance to workout at several high schools and when it comes to the weight room, I have had coaches talk about how important the strength program is but when it comes time to get the athletes in, there is a giant disconnect.  The big problem I see is that the weight room is looked at like it is just the domain of the football team.  Most of the guys who staff weight rooms in high school are assistant football coaches who may not relate well to girl tennis players, so how to we overcome this obstacle. 

The first thing is for Athletic Directors to wake up!  If I hear one more AD talk about commitment coming from the perspective of the athlete I will scream!  If you travel to some of the area schools the weight rooms are horrible. I will not name any schools but I have a tough time believing that some of the schools actually think they can get work done in some of them.  The biggest concern is money, well that could be but I truly believe that there are ways to get around that. By raising the population of the people using the room, the more people will care about it. You know when one team is winning, it’s easier for the booster club to raise money for it, so imagine if every athlete in the school was using the room, and winning!

Imagine how many people would want to be part of that team, imagine the type of positive energy could come from that room?  I’ve seen it, so I know if can be done.  If you are thinking of getting into the business of strength training and looking to work with athletes, don’t hesitate, there are opportunities to be had.  Join the New Jersey Strength Coaches Organization, get involved, athletes, coaches and parents will be glad you did.