• Coaches Corner with Scott Bennett
    Scott Bennett, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*E, has nearly 25 years of experience in the strength and conditioning field. As the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of Radford University he oversees the school-wide operation of the strength and conditioning program.
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  • CoachesCornerBannerCoaches Corner | Scott BennettScott Bennett, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*EScott Bennett has nearly 25 years of experience in the strength and conditioning field. As the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of Radford University he oversees the school-wide operation of the strength and conditioning program. Bennett graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education before acquiring a Master of Education degree in Guidance and Counseling from Clemson University.

    In addition to coaching several athletes at the professional and Olympic level, he was awarded the status as a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa) where he has served two terms on the Board of Directors.

    1. How long have you been working in the field of strength and conditioning?
    I have been in the field, since I started as a graduate assistant in 1989. I have been a head strength coach for 17 years now.

    2. What is your training style/methods regarding training?
    I do not know that I have a particular “style” or not. I like to start all lifting sessions together either as one unit or as a team. If the team has a large population, they can be broken up into specific groups. As far as training methods are concerned, I use the methods that I have found to be effective to address the weaknesses or needs of the team and the individuals on the team. I was taught many years ago to not philosophically trap myself by any one single methodology. I like the use of free weight exercises and traditional lifts such as cleans, squats, jerks, presses, but sometimes I have to use variations to accomplish strength and power output gains. I like to use force training methods as well as implements of accommodating resistance when possible.

    3. How has this training style/methods evolved over the years?
    I think the training has evolved because the athletes we are training have changed. I have found that we have athletes enter our programs at both ends of the training spectrum. We have those who have already had a good strength coach or trainer working with them, or we have athletes that have done very little. I think we as strength coaches have become more aware of the notion of “strong enough” to play the game and we seem to be more concerned with sport-specific performance more than just lifting weights.

    4. Who has influenced you the most throughout your career and why?
    I have been very fortunate to have many significant influences in my career. Quite frankly, I am influenced every time I “talk shop” with any strength coach. The early influences were provided by great men, such as Johnny Parker, who was a coach at my high school when I was growing up. He rented a room in my grandmother’s house. That was my first and most powerful influence. His example sparked my interest in weight lifting. He also provided a great example of how to be a professional, how to take a true interest in young people’s lives, and how to embrace the sacrifices and accomplishments of the lives he touched.

    Gary Wade form Clemson University taught me the value of a good work ethic, how to run an organization, and how to stick to your guns when the chips are down. The vision and example he brought with him from the University of Nebraska, Boyd Epley, and his own personal drive and work ethic, helped pave the way for the ideas and first-class facilities we see today.

    Mike Gentry was a huge influence on my career. Mike taught me how to connect with kids and use group dynamics to get the most out of athletes. He taught me the value of being firm but fair, the importance of doing more research, as well as actually trying new workouts personally to learn more about them. Mike also taught me the value of having a great plan in place; not only as a professional, but more importantly, for the teams coached. He taught me the importance of a plan with long-term and short term goals, and the ability to make proper adjustments as you go.

    Working around other great strength coaches such as Ed Ellis and Jeff Fish, and sport coaches such as Vic Koenning, Joe Glenn, Jeff Bower, Larry Fedora, and Larry Eustachy have given me a lot of insight into handling very diverse groups of athletes. I have been very blessed to have a great group of professional friends and acquaintances that have all contributed to my approach in our great profession.

    5. How do you adapt your programming to fit the needs of each athlete you work with?
    I basically find out what voids we need to fill. Usually incoming freshmen need a good dose of everything. The next step is to decide what exercises we need to use to influence performance output as it relates to their sport, but also their body type. Do they need to get fit? Do they need to gain size? Do they have long levers or short levers? How will our programming needs fit into the allotted time we are given to train with them?

    6. What do you think is the most overlooked concept in the field of strength and conditioning?
    Get your players strong before you try to use “exotic” training modalities. I also think we need to put more research time into finding out what the most effective training methods are when it comes to the “segmented training” we deal with now; for example, we have kids for a block of time, then they may have 4 - 6 weeks away from us, then we get them back again. This can become quite a tricky situation to give them the most beneficial training.

    7. What resources do you use the most when it comes to getting continuing education as it pertains to the field?
    I mostly use site visits, clinics, and anecdotal evidence to continue improving what I have already found to be effective. I do not see how the art of getting kids at the age we train them has changed that much. We still put a premium on technique and use sound periodization techniques to improve performance. It seems now that the art of training college athletes relies mostly on how to govern the stressors we put on their systems in the short time we have them.

    8. What is your take on “specificity” of training and how (if so) do you apply it to your programming?
    It depends on what specificity you are referring. I function more in a movement-specific arena more so than a sport-specific arena, as well as demands of the training calendar. It took me many years to figure out that we really cannot get our athletes in condition for their sport. We can get them in shape to get them into condition, but the only way they will be in game shape or sport shape is by playing the sport. The only way a football player will be in condition to get hit and get off the ground is to get hit and have to get off the ground. No amount of conditioning drills in the world will prepare a football player to be out in the hot sun during practice with a helmet and pads on for four hours. We can get them in shape to get in condition.

    9. What is your favorite tool in your tool box?
    A crescent wrench because it is always adjustable—our ability to adapt, adjust, and be effective is our most valuable asset.

    10. What are your 5 favorite exercises?
    Power cleans (and variations), squats (and variations), pull-ups (and variations), hurdle jumps, and presses.

    11. What advice do you have for young coaches who are beginning their careers and hoping to “follow in your footsteps?”
    Do not follow in my footsteps; I have made too many mistakes. I think the path to being a head strength coach has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years: the training modalities and the image of our position have changed. I think that the greatest concept I could give them is to find a group of solid training concepts you are comfortable with teaching and master them. Do not be afraid to pay the same or more dues than the strength coaches that have paved the way for you. When hired to do a job, give them more than they ask for. This means that you should show up early, stay late, and do everything you can to leave the ground more fertile than you found it.
  • 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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