What Strength & Conditioning Coaches Need on Their Radar


MARCH, 2022

Every semester I get the privilege to speak with our interns working with our Olympic Sports Performance department led by Jason Dierking. I look forward to Chad Workman who leads the internship program to reach out to coordinate schedules. The format is pretty simple. We start out with introductions and then Chad usually kicks it off with a question that will set the tone for the discussion. We then go around the table and the interns get their chance to fire away.

One question I can always count on Chad asking is “what do strength and conditioning coaches need to be paying attention to outside of strength and conditioning?” As I reflected on our roundtable discussion, I thought my answers would make for a good blogpost. Chad asked for two answers, but I was able to come up with three. They were 1.) Mental Health, 2.) Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL)/ the Alston case, and 3.) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)/ Transgender policies. There is so much information coming forth on these topics that it’s difficult to keep up with what is most recent and relevant.

As an Administrator, lately I seem to find myself spending a significant amount of time reading or having conversations around these topics. I think it is difficult for anyone to be an expert in all three of these subject matters. However, that should not stop everyone who is forward facing with student athletes from becoming better educated. What I know for sure is our student athletes are dealing with a combination of these issues and more at any given point time.

I am finding when I talk to people who work with student athletes on a daily basis they tell me the most challenging part of their jobs is dealing with mental health. When I ask student athletes where they need the most help to be the best versions of themselves, they usually say something revolving around mental health. So much has happened over the past few years and it has had a significant impact on coaches, athletes, and staff. I am pretty sure many of the parents of student athletes would concur. More education and resources are needed everywhere on every level.

Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation was passed in the summer of 2021. NIL is independent or collectively identifiable aspects of a person that make them unique, including but not limited to, their name, image, likeness, nickname, signature, social media account, any symbol, name, or design. Basically, this allows students athletes opportunities to make money while they are still competing and maintain their eligibility. The Alston case eliminated the financial caps on what student athletes can receive as reimbursements and pay for academic-related expenses.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)/ Transgender policies are being developed. Fortunately, many Athletic Departments are hiring Directors of DEI to help navigate the social issues we are all facing. Athletic Leadership is being held to higher standards every day. Those who put forth the effort to become more educated will have an advantage during those times of challenge. There is a lot of conversation around transgender athletes at many levels in our society. We must pay attention to the ever evolving landscape.

The issues are not just for strength and conditioning coaches to be paying attention to. We all must do our part to make our society a better place for all.

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