The typical student-athlete training process involves the sport’s coach, coaching staff, strength and conditioning coach, athletic trainer and all other supporting personnel such as administrators and academic support staff. The coach you will more than likely encounter during this is the strength and conditioning coach. They oversee the essential component of the training process, guiding student-athletes to become stronger, faster and quicker, and ultimately better equipped to execute the technical and tactical skills required in his or her sport.
As each year passes, the student-athlete develops a more mature level of these explosive qualities and thus becomes better able to contribute to the success of the team. A core component of this training process depends upon having a certified strength and conditioning coach implementing an appropriate evidence-based, progressive training program.
The NCAA requires only a “nationally accredited strength and conditioning certification program” on a coach’s resume. To summarize, it does not matter what sport a strength coach gets their certificate in. For example, for a $245 fee, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) offers a 21-hour strength training course to become a certified NCAA strength coach in any sport. By comparison, the widely-used Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA) requires 30 times as much training — a 640-hour certification process.
Training has become so specialized that experts say the NCAA rule of having a certified strength and conditioning coach is too broad of a requirement. According to ESPN earlier this year, three University of Oregon football players were hospitalized after a series of grueling strength and conditioning workouts. They were being led by a strength coach certified from a track and field coaches association.
This incident displayed a red flag to the NCAA Division I Football association and the need to investigate the current strength and conditioning coach’s certificates. After research and investigation, they plan to require any person designated as a school’s strength and conditioning coach to be nationally certified in a specific sport.
The NCAA will examine how strength coaches are educated, hired and who oversees them once they are on the job. A certified professional provides a safe environment in which student-athletes can develop and optimize their potential. More importantly, the certified individual has the ability to decrease competitive injuries. This requirement will foster a quality collegiate experience while providing a safe and healthy environment in which to learn and train. Our vital mission is to provide every resource to assist in the total development of the student-athlete.
* Originally published on August 16, 2017, by Kelli Prange