Over the last few years, there seems to have been quite an uptick in the number of people calling themselves a ‘strength and conditioning coach’, or claiming that they are able to provide ‘strength and conditioning’ for athletes and consequently being paid to do just that. Now this is a trendy, hip term that certainly gets people’s attention, especially at this time of year as preseason hits full swing, or people sign up to 10K runs and half marathons after the summer holiday splurge!
But, what actually is an S&C coach, and who should and should not be using the title? Let’s have a look………
(Nb. this post is discussing the training of sports people with the expressed aim of improving as a competitive athlete, not people looking to improve general fitness)
Defining the term
Here in the UK, there are things called ‘protected titles’, which exist to ensure that the person using them is actually qualified in the service they intend to provide. This is to make sure people are, firstly, safe, and secondly, not getting ripped off. For someone to be able to use these titles, or advertise that they are able to provide the service the titles are related to, they must prove (through various means) that they are capable of doing so.
Now, this does not mean that what they do is effective or safe (see the arguments against chiropractic, which carries the protected title ‘Doctor of Chiropractic’ despite the practice essentially being nonsense, and potentially dangerous), but it does mean that the person using the title has gone through some kind of vetting process before being allowed to ask for your money.
The title ‘S&C Coach’ or similar is not currently a protected title in the UK, nor is there any protection of the claim to be able to provide S&C. This means that literally anyone can give themselves this title or charge you for being ‘coached’ by them regardless of their education, experience or competencies.
This terrifies me.
Why? Because the nature of S&C training and the loads placed on the person’s physical structures and systems mean that a fine balance between getting stronger and being badly injured is always being struck. In order to fully appreciate and mitigate the inherent dangers of such training requires several years of study and practice, and even if the uneducated coach is not causing injury, they still might not be providing a suitable stimulus to make you stronger or faster. So at best, you may have wasted your time and money, at worst, you may become chronically injured.
So, in order to define the ‘S&C Coach’, we need to be able to give usable thresholds on their education and experience. This is tricky, but not impossible. For a start, there is no single qualification that demonstrates a coach’s effectiveness, but there are a few that you’re likely to see in Britain and Ireland that show that they have demonstrated the required knowledge to at least keep you safe. These are:
Continue reading Have I hired an S&C Coach? Or a Personal Trainer in disguise?