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Buck Blackwood, MS, CSCS, USAW-1Buck Blackwood began his coaching career at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in 2003. Prior to being hired full-time, Blackwood was a volunteer coach for two years at USAFA, and spent two years as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at Montana State University. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Willamette University in 1997 and his Master of Science degree in Exercise Science from Montana State University in 1999. Active in national organizations surrounding his profession, he is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) and the United States of America Weightlifting (USAW) as a Level 1 Club Coach. Blackwood has been published in numerous professional journals and he also has presented nationally and internationally to other coaches on the area of performance training.
My background began as a weightlifter so my philosophy was greatly influenced through Olympic weightlifting mentors and sports. And while weightlifting methods remain my mainstay, any good strength and conditioning program must encompass all elements of physical performance.
The evolution, for me, is not so much my philosophy but rather the time spent in the trenches. Experience enhances a coach’s ability to better convey their message. I strive to make the complex simple in a way that shortens the learning curve and accelerates athletic performance.
It has really been a confluence of mentors, but if I had to choose one person it would be my former weightlifting coach. His influence had little to do with the nuances of technique, but rather he opened my eyes to the fact that coaching is a people business.
My athletes earn the right to advance in exercise complexity. Advancement in exercise hierarchy comes when he/she can demonstrate unloaded/loaded movement patterns with full range-of-motion, stability, and efficiency.
Unfortunately, I believe motor control or technique is the most overlooked concept. Despite the voluminous information about exercise technique, it takes experience developing a coach’s eye. Couple this with the demand to accelerate athletic output and it is no wonder motor control is less than optimal.
I am definitely a research junkie. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and all other related journals are my primary source for continuing education. Building relationships with the personal trainer and Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) community is also invaluable for professional development.
Specificity is a principle that is quintessential to programming. For me, programming boils down to identifying the basic features of the sport: metabolic, multiple-joint and movement orientation, and force-power production demands. Notice I mentioned identifying “basic” features, not the implementation of actual sport skills—there is a difference.
The back squat, deadlift, hang power snatch, shoulder press, and pull-up.
My advice is simple: Be industrious and energetic. If you embody those two key qualities, then you will be fine.