By Sarah Koszyk, RD
Participating in collegiate sports can be a jump start for athletes as they move from college to their post degree careers. Athletes and sports coaches are the ones always seen at the forefront. But what about all their strength & conditioning coaches who are hidden from the lights, cameras, and on-field action? Not all athletes are born knowing how to train properly, play the sport correctly, or enhance their natural skills. These athletes require training and technique to excel in their sport. Let’s take a look behind the scenes at a strength & conditioning coach for collegiate athletes who helps to train and optimize the athletes’ physical capabilities.
Pros to Training Collegiate Athletes:
• Most college athletes specialize in one particular sport, so designing year-long training programs can help bring them to their peak performances at the appropriate times explains Allen Hedrick, MA, CSCS*D, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Challenges to Training Collegiate Athletes:
• Hedrick believes that academic responsibilities always need to come first and that it can be a significant challenge for college athletes to maintain those grades.
• Other athletes may have part time jobs, especially during the summer, so balancing workouts, work, and studies can be difficult.
• An additional challenge occurs when athletes live off campus and need to prepare their own meals. Hedrick describes the challenges of adequate nutrition intake as an important aspect that can affect athletes’ performance.
Top Ways To Motivate The Players:
• “Each coach has to find motivational techniques that they feel comfortable with. It has to be authentic or the athlete will not respond as desired. For me, I motivate my athletes by letting them know I care about them and that I want them to be successful. I rarely yell or use profanity. But the athletes can tell I want them to be successful, that my goal is to help them achieve their performance and team goals,” states Hedrick.
• Find out what motivates each athlete. Is it an individual goal such as achieving a certain running speed or lifting a specific amount of weight? Is it pleasing others? Is it by not making a mistake and getting reprimanded by coaches and teammates? Figure out what motivates each athlete and use those motivators to further push the athlete.
Remember: Relationships are everything. Developing trust with your athletes is an important step towards getting your team to work hard and strive towards excellence. As Hedrick concludes, competition is fun and knowing after a victory that he has done a better job to prepare his athletes than the opposing strength & conditioning coach is rewarding.