NSCA and CSCCa Announce Return to Safe Training Guidelines

June 3, 2019


The two most prominent strength and conditioning coaches’ organizations, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa) have issued a landmark consensus guidelines paper designed to protect athletes returning to training during what are known as “transition periods” following inactivity. In the past few years, the incidence of injuries and deaths related to exertional heat illness (EHI), exertional rhabdomyolysis (ER), and cardiorespiratory failure has increased significantly, and it is the hope of the CSCCa and NSCA that these new consensus guidelines will provide professionals with the guidance to help reduce these incidences in college athletes.

The paper entitled “CSCCa and NSCA Joint Consensus Guidelines for Transition Periods: Safe Return to Training Following Inactivity” has been published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal June 2019 issue, and represents the first collaboration between the CSCCa and NSCA since both organizations were formed.

This partnership was prompted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports’ request for both organizations to provide guidelines designed to prevent the tragic deaths and catastrophic injuries in student athletes that, statistics show, most often occur during the first two to four weeks of mandatory training following a break. The term “transition period” is commonly used to describe the two to four weeks of mandatory workouts when an athlete, who has either been on a break of two weeks or longer or is new to a team, is retraining following a period of inactivity.

The protocols of this paper were developed by experienced strength and conditioning coaches and were researched, supported, and validated by scientists from both organizations. The 18-page document contains many recommendations including:

 Recommendations for the prevention of the most common exertional injuries and addresses EHI, ER, and cardiorespiratory failure.

 The paper reinforces the importance of each university’s athletic department developing and practicing emergency action plans for each training venue, conducting pre-participation medical evaluations, and making the results for at-risk athletes available to the strength and conditioning coaching staff.

 The recommendation that strength and conditioning coaches adjust workouts to match environmental conditions, especially in the case of high heat and humidity.

 They also recommend that strength and conditioning coaches be properly certified, and all employers may check their current and future coach’s credentials through the national registry found at www.usreps.org.

 The most unique part of the paper is the recommended limits on training volumes, training intensities, and work-to- rest ratios that allow strength and conditioning coaches the autonomy to design programs that fit their training approach, yet provide safe upper limits that protect athletes.

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