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How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach in 3 Steps

Reading Time: 5 minutes 20 seconds

By: ISSA

Date: 2022-03-23T00:00:00-04:00


One of the benefits of being a personal trainer is that you can specialize in many different areas of fitness. You could specialize in corrective exercise, for instance. This enables you to better help clients with muscle pain and limitations.

Another option that can be incredibly rewarding is to become a strength and conditioning coach. And you can learn how to perform this type of coaching in just three steps. But why pursue conditioning coaching?

Why Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach?

As a strength and conditioning coach, you get to help athletes become their personal best. You do this by working with them to improve their strength and conditioning. Your training can also improve their speed and agility. This provides them the ability to achieve their peak sports performance.

Imagine seeing an athlete perform better because of your coaching efforts. Maybe they’re able to defend against bigger players on the football field. Or they are faster at getting the basketball from one end of the court to the other. Knowing you played a role in this can be pretty rewarding.

You can also take many different paths as a conditioning specialist. This provides the ability to choose how you apply this skill. You can work with an individual athlete, for instance, or an entire sports team. You also choose what level of athlete to help. College coaches often rely on strength and conditioning trainers to build up the team. Or maybe you have a goal to work with elite athlete clients. You can do this as a strength and conditioning coach as well.

As a strength coach, you can even work with younger athletes. Some youth organizations hire coaches to teach their members how to improve their fitness. High schools may offer their players the same benefit. In this role, you are able to develop workouts for a variety of high-performance clients.

Who Might Benefit From Becoming a Certified Strength Coach

What type of personal trainer might enjoy being a strength and conditioning coach? Someone who loves sports, for one.

Some trainers thrive in a sports environment. They like working one-on-one with a team’s head coach, assistant coach, and athletic trainer. They find satisfaction in taking an active role in the team’s athletic training regimen.

If you like a specific sport, you can help its players improve their athletic performance. Or you might decide to help any athlete, regardless of their sport.

You might also benefit from specializing in strength and conditioning if you have a lot of athlete clients. You’re better able to help them boost their performance through a strength training and conditioning program. Perhaps more importantly, you can also teach them how to reduce their injury risk. This helps keep them in the sport they love.

How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach in 3 Steps

If you’re ready to become a strength and conditioning coach, you can do this in just three steps.

Step One: Complete a Training Program

The first step is to learn what you need to know to offer strength and conditioning coach services. Completing a training program provides this knowledge. Strength and conditioning coach training teaches you how to apply exercise physiology and sports science methodologies to athletes.

This type of training covers topics such as:

  • How to conduct a proper fitness assessment on athletes

  • Weight training techniques for different types of athletes

  • Strategies for preventing sport-related injuries

  • Ways to help an athlete mentally prepare for their sport of choice

  • Nutrition and supplement principles for peak performance

Step Two: Obtain Your Strength and Conditioning Certification

Being a certified personal trainer provides credibility in the fitness industry. The same is true with a certification in strength and conditioning. This tells potential clients that you know how to develop a training program for athletes. Certification also provides credibility for the athletic coaches you’ll be working with.

Some training programs include the ability to earn your certification. ISSA’s Strength and Conditioning Coach training course is one. Upon completion of this training, you can take your certification exam. This provides a one-stop-shop for the personal trainer interested in becoming a certified strength and conditioning coach.

Step Three: Gain Experience as an SC Coach

Once you have your training and certification, it’s time to get experience. If your goal is to supply this service to your current coaching clients, start applying what you’ve learned when working with them. If your goal is to get in with a local team, approach the sports coach or athletic trainer and let them know you’d love to help. Ask if they’d give you the opportunity to provide training to their athletes. If it’s not the right time, explain that you’d like to keep the door open. Plant the seed that you’re available whenever you can be of service.

Skills to Enhance Your Conditioning Coach Success

You can’t talk about how to become a strength and conditioning coach without also talking about the skills that can make you more successful in this role. Many of these are the same skills that can improve your success as a personal trainer. What type of skill set is essential for a strength coach?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fitness trainers of all types benefit from the following skills:

  • Communication skills. Your ability to help clients depends on how well you can communicate. Good communication makes it possible to explain why a specific exercise is important. It’s also important when communicating proper exercise techniques.

  • Listening skills. Part of being a good communicator is the ability to listen. You can’t help clients reach their fitness goals if you don’t know what those goals are. Listening also helps identify any areas of concern. Addressing these concerns makes clients feel more comfortable with you. It tells them that you care about how they feel.

  • Motivational skills. How do you keep an athlete committed to their training protocol? You stoke their motivation. Motivational interviewing can assist with this. Find out what makes them want more. Then remind them of this when their motivation starts to lag.

  • Problem-solving skills. A large part of training is finding ways to overcome clients’ challenges. Have their training effects stalled? If so, why? Maybe they’re struggling with a specific type of training. Figuring out how to resolve these issues enables them to continue to progress.

  • Customer service skills. As a strength coach, you are providing your clients a service. Keeping them happy with your service is critical for retaining them as clients. This includes being friendly and polite during your training sessions. Let them know that you’re there for them and that their satisfaction is important to you.

Ways to Add Strength Coaching to Your Personal Training Business

You can implement your strength and conditioning coach services into your current business in a few different ways. One is to make this type of coaching a regular part of your training program. For instance, if you work solely with athletes, add this type of training to your clients’ current workouts.

Another option is to develop a program specifically for clients interested in boosting their sports performance. Keep working with your non-athlete clients the way you do now. But also offer a specialty program for those who want this service.

If you want to work with pro or elite athletes, start by gaining experience. Work with individual athletes first. Once you’re comfortable, reach out to the coach of the team you’d like to work with. Share your interest in becoming their head strength and conditioning coach. Ask for the opportunity to boost their players’ performance. As the players start to show great strength and conditioning gains, you’ll prove your importance to the team.

Ready to take the next step? ISSA’s Strength and Conditioning Coach Certification course teaches you how to help athletes of all levels. This course covers everything from client assessment to conditioning program design. And it’s offered entirely online.

Featured Course

Strength and Conditioning Coach

ISSA's Strength and Conditioning course bridges the gap between science and application by giving students the "how" of helping athletes achieve any sport-related goal. With this course, not only will you learn the exercise science behind strength and conditioning, but exactly how to create the perfect training program for any athlete. Further, it offers one of the only accredited exams in the strength and conditioning space, making you a hot commodity to any employer.

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