Exercise and Fitness - Strength and Conditioning

Improving the fitness of all levels of athletes to improve their performance.

What do Strength & Conditioning coaches do?

  • The key difference between a gym instructor or personal trainer and a Strength & Conditioning coach is the intended type of client. While gym instructors and personal trainers tend to work more in general fitness, Strength & Conditioning coaches tend to work with dedicated athletes.
  • As a result of Strength & Conditioning coaches working with the same athletes for long periods of time they must be skilled in planning and developing specific fitness components over periods of years.
  • Rather than being a sport-specific coach, Strength & Conditioning coaches can work across a variety of different sports. Usually they tend to have a particular interest in a type of sport such as speed and power sports (like rugby and netball), or endurance sports (like triathlon and marathon). Other specialisations include rehabilitation coaches working closely with the sports medicine team.
  • Strength and Conditioning coaches usually work in a weightroom but can work on the field or track for fitness work with athletes.

Where are the jobs?

The most common place to start a career in Strength & Conditioning will be in facilities already established. Just like there are commercial gyms geared for general fitness there are also those designed for sporting performance such as https://www.coreadvantage.com.au/. Other opportunities exist in sports schools like https://www.rowvillesc.vic.edu.au/rowville-sports-academy/. Coaching these pre-elite athletes can be a rewarding career path because you are often working to develop athletes before they make it big (probably when athletes need coaching the most).

You may have aspirations of working with elite athletes. Almost all professional sports (such as AFL, NRL, A-League), sports institutes (such as AIS or VIS), or national sporting organisations (such as Cricket Australia or FFA) will employ Strength & Conditioning professionals.

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Skills required for the job 

  • You will require all of the personality attributes of a sports coach including leading groups of athletes, as well as long term organisations skills (remembering that most athletes will have yearly plans and Olympians plan four years in advance).
  • You will also have to be comfortable working odd hours such as weekends and early mornings.
  • Testing and training of athletes often requires managing and interpreting data-bases so you will need genuine intermediate Excel skills in formulas, graphing and general statistics.
  • Testing and training also often involves using new technologies. Recent developments include portable force plates and linear position transducers, but no one can predict what the next technology will be. You need to be excited about learning new technologies and techniques while adapting your old skills.

How to develop your skills

You should start volunteering a local sporting clubs to help with warming up athletes or running some of their fitness work. You should also get experience coaching participants in a gym as a personal trainer.

You should also consider enrolling in accreditation courses with

  • The Australian Strength & Conditioning Association (ASCA S&C Coach – Level 1)
  • Sports Medicine Australia (Sports Trainer – Level 1)
  • Australian Weightlifting Federation (Club Sports Power Coach)

Students can begin working on these while they study and then begin volunteering with local sports teams to gain experience. No head coach of a professional team will put you in charge of million-dollar athletes without a lot of experience!

Many strength and conditioning coaches are master’s qualified, so many university graduates undertake further study such as the Master of Applied Sport Science.

What units or courses to study at Deakin

To work in Strength and Conditioning you should undertake the Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science then pursue major study areas in Strength and Conditioning, Applied Sport Science or a practical combination of related majors. Units of study should include HSE103, HSE302 and HSE331.

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