Monday, October 22, 2012

The Strength & Conditioning Profession - Part 2

The following is an excerpt from a paper I wrote during my time as a Master's student at the University of British Columbia (The State of the Strength and Conditioning Industry in North America)  This section looks at the role of university in the grand scheme of things if you are looking to get into the strength and conditioning profession. 

Role of University

As previously discussed, it is possible to succeed in a particular profession without necessarily having an undergraduate four year degree related to that field.  This is generally true as long as sufficient dedication is given to learning the required theoretical material and gaining sufficient experience.  Using the medical profession as a framework yet again, we see that medical schools require students to undergo intensive theoretical studies that they must demonstrate proficiency in prior to graduation.  While a student with an undergraduate degree in a health or science related field would likely have a stronger background in the material covered in medical school, students with a degree in history for example, would still be capable of making themselves proficient in medical theory provided they are diligent in their studies.  The ability of the student with an undergraduate degree in a discipline other than kinesiology to succeed in the strength & conditioning industry is also certainly possible, provided that they are committed to an accelerated degree of theoretical learning.  Therefore, the general consensus is that an undergraduate degree teaches a student how to learn, think critically, and provide a basic theoretical framework if they intend to continue on with the same discipline throughout their career or in graduate school.  An aspiring strength & conditioning professional may also aim to attend graduate school to complete a Masters’ degree.  Graduate school will further their ability to think critically.  From a job opportunity standpoint, a Masters’ degree will give the professional leverage when applying for a job, seeking to speak at a seminar or conference, or provide consulting services.    

Medical schools also require students to complete a practical internship in a clinical setting in order to acquire hands on experience, and encounter the great number of variables that do not always garner attention in textbooks or research studies.  As can be expected, the same needs apply to the aspiring strength & conditioning coach.  Hands on experience is a must in order to deal with a variety of athletes who may possess different: learning styles (visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic), training experience, movement dysfunctions, injuries, or health problems.  A strength & conditioning coach may possess a great degree of theoretical knowledge, but until they are able to apply this theory to a great number of athletes in a variety of scenarios, they will not have as strong an ability to effectively or efficiently coach an athlete to greater performance and durability.  Most career professionals in the strength & conditioning industry advocate completing an internship under an experienced strength coach.  This internship may be attended through a private facility, or through a college/university program.  Essentially every post-secondary institution in the United States offers internships to multiple students.  Here, aspiring strength & conditioning coaches are given hands on experience with countless athletes; therefore, they are able to see how the theory they have learned translates to real world situations.

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