If you’ve decided to look for professional help to enhance your athletic development, you’ll need to shop around. Strength and conditioning coaches are like doctors – they may have the same basic training, but they are highly specialized. You need to choose a strength and conditioning coach that will help you achieve your specific goals. Here’s how to make sure you pick the right one:
Understand Your Needs
Personal trainers and strength and conditioning coaches are generally trained in Exercise Science, but specialize in a particular type of athlete:
- Couch potato
- Weekend warrior
- Fitness enthusiast
- High school athlete (sport-specific skills)
- Professional athlete (sport-specific skills)
Each of these athlete types has different needs and requires a different level of certified staff. Which one are you? Be honest with yourself and be able to describe your needs clearly to potential strength and conditioning coaches or personal trainers.
Now that you’ve spent time understanding your needs, the biggest mistake you could make is to just walk into the local gym and ask for help. Most gyms are hungry for paying clients and will look at you as a source of cash flow, not a unique athlete with specific goals, and they will try to sign you before you walk out the door. You might as well go to a used car dealership. You will be passed on to the next available trainer on staff.
Think about it: are you talking to a salesperson or a coach? Many gyms employ sales staff that never have trained a client and never will. They are very good at what they do, so before they trap you, run, run fast! product, and are good at it.
Talk To The Coach
Once you’ve successfully gotten past the sales people, you should set up some conversations with coaches who have experience training at your level. When you are interviewing a potential coach, follow these steps to make sure you end up with the best one:
Describe your athletic development level
- Ask how many of the coach’s current clients are at that level
- Describe your athletic development goals
- Ask the coach to outline the program he or she will use to help you meet your goals
Finally, remember, this is just like a job interview. Ask to check references by talking to one or two former clients – current clients will tend to be happier and may have just started working with the coach.
Get The Certifications
Once you feel like you’ve met your match, the final check should be certifications. It’s not just a matter of an impressive list; there are potential land mines here, and you should look for high-quality certifications. We’ve put together a guide to the certifications that matter here.
Remember, letting a gym steer you to a coach is like taking the first car off the lot. Do your research. Do you have any good or bad experiences to share? Tell us in the comments!
Photo: US Navy