Oct 6, 2017Could Your School Benefit?
By the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
With school districts throughout the United States facing financial challenges, hiring a professional strength and conditioning coach may seem like a low priority. But data and real-world input from professionals in the field say otherwise.
Investing in a certified strength and conditioning coach pays dividends for schools, student-athletes, and the entire student body.
Adolescent athletes are in various stages of physical development and emotional maturity. One-size-fits-all strength and conditioning programs increase the likelihood of injury by applying more training stress than some athletes are ready to handle, or by failing to establish fundamental movement skills. A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) can design programs that are appropriate for each student.
In the past 20 years, the increased influence of private sports clubs has raised the competitive level of school sports, leading to more intense pressure on young athletes. A lack of communication and coordination between sport-specific coaches can be problematic for the multi-sport athlete. This is where a certified strength and conditioning coach can work with athletes across sport seasons, to ensure the athlete’s conditioning workload is appropriate.
As an example, no aquatics program would consider putting students in the pool without a qualified lifeguard on deck. Yet, in school weight rooms throughout the country, athletes are routinely supervised by teachers and sport coaches who–despite their best intentions–are under-qualified in terms of weight room safety and liability. Professional strength and conditioning coaches can reduce a school’s liability and enhance risk management policies.
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Adolescents are besieged by media and social pressures promoting unrealistic standards for body image and athletic prowess. During this highly impressionable stage of life, it is imperative for young people to develop self-confidence, resilience, and mental toughness. While participation in team sports can contribute to the development of these attributes, adolescents can achieve personal goals through strength and conditioning irrespective of their abilities in competitive sports.
“One of the core values of my program is to empower my athletes to thrive,” says Micah Kurtz, 2016 National Strength Coach of the Year and Director of Strength and Conditioning at AC Flora High School in Columbia, S.C. “I want to use my training environment to teach my student-athletes how to thrive in all aspects of life. I want them to thrive in athletics, academics, in being a better brother/sister, better son/daughter, and great member of society. The weight room and training provides a great environment to teach these students the importance of teamwork, selflessness, hard work, goal setting, dedication, honesty, overcoming obstacles, and embracing the process of becoming the best at getting better.”
The Bigger Picture
Hiring a certified strength and conditioning coach is about far more than producing winning sports teams. Strength and conditioning promotes healthy lifestyle choices and a passion for life-long exercise habits.
The vast majority of student-athletes do not continue playing team sports after high school. However, strength and conditioning habits learned early on can remain an integral part of an active lifestyle throughout adulthood.
“Just as in the classroom, my job is to prepare the athlete for the next level, so they have the greatest chance of being successful,” says Patrick McHenry, Director of Strength and Conditioning at Castle View High School in Castle Rock, Colo. “Not all of my athletes will go on to play college sports, but they know how to lift if they choose to go to the local gym or recreation center.”
“I teach a weight training class to almost all of the athletes in my school and also a large number of non-athletes,” says Kurtz, “I truly believe that this is the most important class they will ever take in high school. There is no better breeding ground for being a success in life than the weight room and training.”
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