Open Advice – My Notes


MAY, 2022

In a recent conversation with a strength coach turned administrator, we got into the topic of advice for strength coaches who are looking to get into athletic administration. During conversations like these, I tend to take notes because it’s inevitable that the person I’m speaking with says something that can make me think for days and days. It might be a more nuanced perspective, or a simple quip they say on the fly… but I have notes and notes and notes from conversations. So I figured I’d share the notes from a recent conversation in the hopes it might get YOU thinking outside the box.

On getting an AD title (assistant/associate) as a strength coach…

Back in the day I received this advice from other strength and conditioning coaches I knew: get a title in a counter-offer.

Assuming you’re doing a good job and people are beginning to notice your efforts, you may get offers from other schools, teams, and organizations. If your current role is where you’d like to remain, instead of asking for an amount of money that you know isn’t realistic given the role or budget, include an ask for an A.D. title to be included in their counter offer.

While it’s not an immediate pay increase like your new offer may be, you’re playing the strategy game – ie the long game. Getting an AD title as a strength and conditioning coach will open the doors to countless growth opportunities in the near future. For example, you can begin growing and overseeing a department; you can set yourself up for a bigger pay bump (having the AD title can put you in a different pay scale category from an HR perspective); and it goes without saying that you can now put an AD title on your resume.

On the perspective of the profession…

It matters how others in the athletic department perceive you. However, it’s usually not as granular as we (strength and conditioning coaches) think it is. People unfamiliar with what we actually do just think we get athletes in shape and strong. They don’t know (or likely care) how many 300lb bench pressers you have on the team, or how early you get up to train athletes.

What they do know and care about is how you are outside of the weight room – how you interact with them. Are you welcoming conversations in the halls or dining room? Holding the door for people as they enter the facility? Does your tone reflect professionalism in emails?

In general, I think the perception of strength coaches is more positive than we think it is – the ‘meathead’ persona is still there, but it’s balanced by how we are outside the weight room. How we treat people and how we show up to athletic events, etc. There’s a time and place for intensity, but it’s the soft skills outside the weight room that allow for your personal brand as a strength and conditioning coach to be perceived as you’d like it to be.

On random advice…

Do things outside of strength and conditioning. Read books outside of strength and conditioning. Have hobbies outside of strength and conditioning.

It shows you’re a real person! And being able to relate to other professionals and your athletes about things outside of the sports environment brings connection to another level. Athletes (and professionals) don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care – and relatability helps show them how much you care.

Again, it’s okay to be a meathead … I’d argue strength and conditioning coaches should be – it’s your craft. But there’s more to it than that.

It also provides an escape to reset and recharge. Athletics is an incredibly rewarding, but incredibly tough field to work in. Having a hobby or something where you can clear your head, gain some perspective and come back to it fresh is invaluable as a strength and conditioning coach.

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