Hunting Season – Part 2
Pat Ivey Performance - Guest Author
If you missed part I of Hunting Season, find it here.
The role of the strength coach and staff has taken on such an impactful role in the sport of football and the compensation at the larger schools has shown the importance put on the position. It is a very valued role and one that I think strength coaches should take very seriously. In my opinion it’s not about the show you can put on, it’s about setting the culture and training the athletes to compete at a very high level. It’s about leadership, teaching, caring and developing consistently and in a positive manner.
Because of time spent with the athletes and the role this position has taken on, they should be compensated in the same bracket as the coordinators. Coordinators are in charge of roughly half the team about half the year. The strength coach(es) are in charge of the team’s development year round. The role of the strength coach as a culture and performance coach has taken on a more in depth role in basketball as well and is beginning to filter down to other sports.
The culture should be defined and created from the top down but it has to be developed from the bottom up and that is where the strength coaches’ role becomes so important because they are with the athletes daily and have the opportunity to teach and implement the culture that is being defined by the head coach.
Earlier I mentioned a clear vision and well defined goals – there also needs to be one voice of the program, the head coach. Although there may be one voice, the strength coach spends a majority of the time being the messenger. Full backing of the strength staff by the head coach is vital in this process.
As a part of the Bob Stoops’ first strength staff in 1999 at Oklahoma, he made it known that if you talked to the head strength coach, Jerry Schmidt, you might as well have been talking to him. He laid out the goals and the vision and it was our job to make sure we were working towards those daily and at a high level.
We did that, the players bought in quickly and in year two we were 13-0 and National Champions. Gary Pinkel had a similar mentality at Missouri of instilling his culture and program there once he became the head coach and Mizzou enjoyed a lot of success with his system during his record setting time at the school.
Bill Walsh, the legendary San Francisco 49ers coach, said that champions behave like champions before they become champions. I believe it is our job as strength coaches to assist the sport coaches in making that happen and teaching the team the great habits they need in order to be champions.
The strength staff not only needs to be knowledgeable about physical training but also sports science, technology, sports psychology, nutrition and be able to communicate and teach aspects of each area. I think communication and being able to relate to people is a huge component in developing a team. You can have a ton of knowledge but if you can’t teach it to others then it’s really no good in having that knowledge. The ability to communicate effectively to players and coaches is an area that strength coaches need to make sure they develop.
Another area that I don’t think gets addressed enough is consistent accountability. Holding players and ourselves to a high standard day in and day out isn’t easy but is a must when developing a championship culture. It takes a lot of energy and attention to details. There are so many good coaches, players and teams out there now that the more attention you pay to the small details daily, the more successful you will be. We have to always be looking for ways to improve ourselves as well as our athletes.
The strength coach shouldn’t be feared, but respected by the way he or she deals with the athletes. The athletes should expect and know that they will be consistently challenged physically and mentally in a positive way that will help them reach the goals they have set for themselves and their team. That they will be treated with respect but also held to a high standard in all areas. This will involve the physical training of course, but also the mental training that gives the athlete the opportunity to develop the tools they need to compete at a high level and have the opportunity to be successful and tools that will also carry over after their career is over.