• Coaches Corner with Sandy Abney
    With more than 15 years experience as a collegiate strength and conditioning professional, Sandy Abney is the Assistant Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of Athletic Performance at the University of Texas and owner of Power to Perform, LLC. She also serves as the Director of the Athletic Performance Internship program at the University of Texas where she oversees the development and mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students. She currently serves as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for women’s varsity crew, women’s novice crew, and the women’s swimming program.
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  • CoachesCornerBannerCoaches Corner | Bo Sandoval
    Sandy Abney, USAW-1, USATF
    Sandy Abney is the Assistant Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of Athletic Performance at the University of Texas and owner of Power to Perform, LLC. She also serves as the Director of the Athletic Performance Internship program at the University of Texas where she oversees the development and mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students. She currently serves as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for women’s varsity crew, women’s novice crew, and the women’s swimming program. She has over 15 years of experience as a collegiate strength and conditioning professional. Abney began working at the University of Texas in 1999 as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach where she oversaw the performance training of five Division IA teams (golf, varsity crew, novice crew, softball, and swimming) while also assisting with football. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Sports Science from Texas State University and holds certifications from the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (MSCC), United States Weightlifting (USAW Club Coach Level 1), and USA Track and Field (USATF). She also serves on the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association Certification Council where she helps to oversee the certification process of strength and conditioning coaches across the United States.
     
    Connect with Sandy!  facebook  facebook  twitter  facebook  And online at www.thepowertoperform.com 
     
    1. How long have you been working in the field of strength and conditioning?
    15 years.

    2. What is your training style/methods regarding training?
    I have been fortunate to work with mostly power sports throughout the years. Being both a former track and field athlete and a competitive Olympic weightlifter has served as my foundation for understanding power development. Utilizing the Olympic lifts in order to develop greater force production is the cornerstone philosophy of my programs.

    3. How has this training style/methods evolved over the years?
    As a young coach, I needed to understand that the athletes were not training to be competitive weightlifters. Through experience, coaches must learn what lifts are most appropriate for the athlete, sport, environment, and training age of the athlete. Once the lifts are selected, enforcing proper mechanics is critical to safely and efficiently implementing successful programs.

    4. Who has influenced you the most throughout your career and why?
    I cannot say there has been one particular person. A collaboration of people has influenced me. I have learned from friends and colleagues in the Olympic weightlifting, track and field, and collegiate strength and conditioning circles.

    5. How do you adapt your programming to fit the needs of each athlete you work with?
    I have always worked with large teams throughout my career, and it is very challenging to individualize a program for teams of 45+ athletes. I personally feel that adapting a program to fit the needs of each athlete in a collegiate setting is unrealistic. 
     
    That being said, communication with the athletic trainer is critical to helping address some individual needs of athletes. Often depending on the level of need, individualization can be addressed through rehabilitation with the athletic trainer. Working with the athletic trainer can also help to identify global issues with a team.   
    Once global issues are identified, I implement preventative exercises at the beginning of my program in warm-up routines. If time allows, I also disperse additional exercises throughout the program to address the global needs. Coaches need to do the best they can with the time given, utilize the available resources, and develop balanced programs that prepare the athletes for their sports. These are some real challenges collegiate strength and conditioning coaches face on a daily basis.

    6. What do you think is the most overlooked concept in the field of strength and conditioning?
    I feel that regeneration is the most overlooked concept in our field. Very frequently, strength and conditioning coaches are challenged for time, and due to those time constraints, coaches feel like they need to train their athletes at every opportunity. They fail to remember the value in both active and passive recovery methods.

    I work with teams that use taper cycles as well as teams that do not. My years of working with teams with taper cycles have influenced how I work with my non-taper teams while in-season. I have seen how the taper helps teams remain healthy, competitive, and successful throughout long seasons. I feel regeneration can be a difference maker while in-season, especially when working with elite athletes.

    7. What resources do you use the most when it comes to getting continuing education as it pertains to the field?
    At The University of Texas Athletic Performance Center, we have created an extensive continuing education program called TAPES (Texas Athletic Performance Education Series) consisting of books, e-books, audio/video conferences, and presentations that allow us access to some of the best information available in sport science and strength and conditioning. We have a designated member of our staff responsible for keeping the library updated and current with the latest research. Each month, a staff member presents on some information from our TAPES collection. Once a semester, our staff also chooses a book to read and discuss from our extensive library, and we bring in speakers to present to our staff quarterly. In addition to all of the above, we encourage our staff members to attend national, regional, and local conferences and clinics.

    Besides the TAPES program, we are privileged to have access to the Stark Center, which is an archive containing the world’s largest collection of materials all related to sport, training, and physical culture.

    8. What is your take on “specificity” of training and how (if so) do you apply it to your programming?
    The most critical aspect of specificity that should be addressed in training programs is energy system demand. Knowing the primary energy systems utilized for specific sports and understanding how to program for those energy systems should be one of the primary guidelines in program design.

    9. What is your favorite tool in your tool box?
    Any form of a complex, triple extension movement utilizing a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, or medicine ball.

    10. What are your five favorite exercises?
    Hang power snatches, power cleans, power cleans off blocks, back squats, and any type of ballistic medicine ball throws.

    11. What advice do you have for young coaches who are beginning their careers and hoping to “follow in your footsteps”?
    Get “in the trenches” as quickly as possible. Attending seminars, reading books, staying current with research, and following blogs are all necessary in this profession, but nothing will benefit a young coach better than getting hands-on experience. That hands-on experience is the only way to take all the information gained from books, seminars, and research and apply it to an actual weight room environment.

    I always say figuratively that collegiate strength and conditioning coaches are put in a box, with that box being any or all of the following: small weight room, small staff, lack of funding, lack of space, time constraints, overbearing sport coaches or athletic trainers, and any other possible limitations of the collegiate setting. The real challenge is figuring out how to apply all the textbook knowledge to the reality of that box. This is the real art of coaching—learning to bridge the gap between science and application and being able to combine both of those with effectiveness and creativity.
     
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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