The Relationship between Club Strength and Conditioning Coaches with contracted athletes and Private Strength and Conditioning Facilities.


There is a growing number of private strength and conditioning (S&C) facilities opening up throughout Australia. This is a positive occurrence as athletes who historically would not have access to adequate physical preparation are exposed to certified coaches! However, there is a question that should be addressed as the private S&C sector continues to grow.
Is it appropriate for a contracted athlete to be attending a private S&C business when there is a qualified S&C coach employed by the club?
This is an interesting debate, and one where my opinion is formed by having worked on both sides of the question.

First lets start out by clarifying what a contracted athlete is. A contracted athlete is someone that has a signed contract at a sporting club, specifically at a club where an S&C coach is also contracted to design and implement programs to improve the physical component of performance. Lets examine this question from three perspectives

The S&C coach for the club:
In a situation where there is an S&C coach employed at the club, the club administration and the head coach have trusted the S&C coach to maximize the physical preparation of all athletes in the team. Responsibilities of the S&C coach in this environment are to design and deliver the strength program, design and deliver the aerobic conditioning program, implement best practice throughout the program to ensure player safety and injury prevention which includes the measurement and monitoring of training load. A plan is developed in conjunction with other members of the coaching staff because the design of a physical preparation program is influenced by not only the broad physical demands of the sport, but also the specific tactical strategies and style of play the head coach wants their team to demonstrate. Additionally, the strength/weaknesses of all aspects of performance (technical, tactical, physical and mental) of individual players that need to be addressed to help the athlete perform optimally have been discussed as a collective coaching staff. The S&C coach is responsible for the physical preparation of the athlete/athletes for the duration of the season and is not only informed by objective assessments of physical qualities and the load associated with training but also through formal and informal discussions with the athlete and other members of the coaching and sports medicine staff. These are influences of the physical preparation program that the independent S&C coach would not have access to, and ultimately presents a challenge for prescribing an appropriate training stimulus.
The club S&C needs to present all of this information to their athletes and educate them on the program so that the athlete understands why they are doing certain things.
Athlete buy in is the key!

The athlete:
You should trust that your club S&C coach has been put in the role or a reason. They have written a program which they think will work best for you.
If you have any questions in regards to the program don’t be afraid to ask, it is crucial that you understand the program!
Skill wise, you are always seeking guidance to help with improvement, do the same for your physical prep.
If you don’t have access to a gym, talk to the S&C coach and organise the best option for you. They might recommend a certain facility to suss out. Still following the prescribed program set out for you.

From a Private S&C facilities:
First of all I think that this can work! But….. Communication is the key!! It can work if the private S&C makes contact with the club S&C to find out what program the athlete should be following. More often than not we are all working towards to one goal so just make sure everyone is on the same page.

Where things can go wrong:
If the Private S&C makes no contact with the Club S&C – is using a program that clashes with the work that the athlete is doing at training and in games.
If a Private S&C approaches the athlete to come and train with them but never makes contact with the club or tries to understand all of the extra training requirements.

What about during the Offseason when the athlete is given a break from their club?
I think you will find most clubs encourage their athletes to take a break from their normal training environment to ‘freshen’ up for a few weeks. This is still a very vital time for the athlete’s preparation and needs to be done correctly.
It can be an opportunity for the athletes to go train at a new facility, but if they do, should be encouraged to keep the club S&C in the loop. Private S&C should try and contact the club to double check what the athlete can and cant do.

This turned a lot longer than what I was first thinking. Hopefully it all makes sense.

At the end of the day if the private S&C injures the contracted athlete, it still falls on the Club S&C……..

Let the club S&C do their job – trust their skills. Secondly communication is the key!!! No different if the athlete is playing junior footy at a TAC cup club that has a S&C coach or if they are a full time professional athlete playing for the Melbourne Vixens Netball.

Like I said this is just my opinion – keen for some others to share their thoughts on the topic.

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