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Why Your High School Needs a Qualified Strength and Conditioning Professional

by NSCA Secondary School Coaches Working Group
NSCA Coach June 2017
Vol 4, Issue 1

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A qualified strength and conditioning professional in the high school environment can benefit both the school and the students in a number of ways, including injury reduction, improved performance, and risk management.

Benefits to the Students

1. Reduce injuries: A qualified strength and conditioning professional can play a pivotal role in preparing young athletes for sport, and thereby minimize or offset the incidence and severity of sport-related injuries common to young athletes (7,10,16,18,20).

2. Improve long-term athletic development: A qualified strength and conditioning professional understands the many variables that go into designing training age–appropriate programs, and can produce more positive results (3,7,11,21).

3. Improve performance: Athletes who participate in a well-designed strength and conditioning program may be faster, stronger, more powerful, move more efficiently, and be more athletic than they would be without it (8,9,10,12,25).

4. Improve confidence: Athletes who invest time in strength and conditioning tend to develop confidence through desired changes in their body composition, increased physical literacy, and the knowledge that the development that occurred because of their training prepares them for competition (1,17,23).

5. Improve health: In addition to increasing muscular strength, power, and endurance, regular participation in a youth resistance training program may positively affect many health- and fitness-related measures and alleviate many adverse health-related conditions (2,9,10,15).

Benefits to the School

1. Limit liability: A qualified strength and conditioning professional can help limit a school’s liability and implement procedures that support risk-management (4,15,16,19,24).

2. Increase professionalism and safety: For the same reasons schools require a certified athletic trainer to work with their injured athletes or a certified lifeguard on pool decks, a coach who is designing and supervising the strength and conditioning program should be qualified to do so (4,6,24).

3. Extra coach on staff for all sports: A strength coach allows the sport coach more time to focus on the day-to-day sport practice schedule, while the strength coach oversees the strength and conditioning of the team 15).

4. Due diligence: Demonstrates the school’s due diligence in properly preparing athletes for the physical and mental demands of sport and establishes a greater commitment to injury prevention (22).

5. Gender equity: Assists an athletic department with implementing strength and conditioning programs that are gender specific (22).

What is a Qualified Strength and Conditioning Professional at the Secondary School Level?

1. Certification: A qualified strength and conditioning professional should achieve and maintain a professional certification credentialed by an independent accreditation agency—for example, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) certification—as well as standard first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and automated external defibrillation (AED) (4,6,19).

2. Education: A qualified strength and conditioning professional should acquire expertise and have a degree from a regionally accredited college/university in one or more of the “scientific foundations” of strength and conditioning (e.g., exercise science/anatomy, biomechanics, pediatric exercise physiology, nutrition), or in a relevant subject (e.g., exercise/sport pedagogy, psychology, motor learning, training methodology, kinesiology) (11,13,14,15,22).

This article originally appeared in NSCA Coach, a quarterly publication for NSCA Members that provides valuable takeaways for every level of strength and conditioning coach. You can find scientifically based articles specific to a wide variety of your athletes’ needs with Nutrition, Programming, and Youth columns. Read more articles from NSCA Coach »

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References 

1. Ahmed, C, Hilton, W, and Pituch, K. Relations of strength training to body image among a sample of female university students. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 16(4): 645-648, 2002. 
2. Aspen Institute Project Play. State of play 2016: Trends and developments. Aspen Institute, 2016. Retrieved 2016 from https://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/state-play-2016-trendsdevelopments. 
3. Australia Strength and Conditioning Association. Resistance training for children and youth: A position stand from the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA). 2007. Retrieved 2016 from http://www.yourtrainingpartner.com.au/wpcontent/uploads/2012/05/ASCA-Position-Stand-Kids-Strength.pdf.
4. Casa, DJ, Almquist, J, Anderson, SA, Baker, L, Bergeron, MF, Biagiolo, B, et al. The inter-association task force for preventing sudden death in secondary school athletics programs: Best-practices recommendations. Journal of Athletic Training 48(4): 546-553, 2013. 
5. Castelli, D, and Williams, L. Health-related fitness and physical education teachers’ content knowledge. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education 26(1): 3-19, 2007. 
6. DeMartini, JK, and Casa, DJ. Who is responsible for preventable deaths during athletic conditioning sessions? The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(7): 1781, 2011. 
7. Duehring, MJ, Feldmann, CR, and Ebben, WP. Strength and conditioning practices of United States high school strength and conditioning coaches. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(8): 2188-2203, 2009. 
8. Faigenbaum, A. Strength training for children and adolescents. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine 19(4): 593-619, 2000. 
9. Granacher, U, Muehlbauer, T, Doerflinger, B, Strohmeier, R, and Gollhodfer, A. Promoting strength and balance in adolescents during physical education: Effects of a short-term resistance training. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(4): 940-949, 2011. 
10. Lloyd, RS, and Faigenbaum, AD. Age- and sex-related differences and their implications for resistance exercise. In: Haff, GG, and Triplett, TN (Eds.), Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, Fourth Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 135153, 2016. 
11. Lloyd, RS, Cronin, JB, Faigenbaum, AD, Haff, GG, Howard, R, Kraemer, WJ, et al. National Strength and Conditioning Association Position Statement on Long-Term Athletic Development. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 30(6): 1491-1509, 2016. 
12. Mannie, K, and Vorkapich, M. Accent on female strength training. Coach and Athletic Director 3: 8-10, 2007.
13. McGladrey, B. High school physical educators’ and sport coaches’ knowledge of strength training principles and methods. Doctoral Dissertation. University of Utah, 2010. 
14. Miller, MG, and Housner, L. A survey of health-related physical fitness knowledge among preservice and inservice physical educators. The Physical Educator 55(4): 176-186, 1998. 
15. National Strength and Conditioning Association. Strength and conditioning professional standards and guidelines. Colorado Springs, CO: National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2009. Retrieved 2016 from https://www.nsca.com/uploadedFiles/ NSCA/Resources/PDF/Education/Tools_and_Resources/NSCA_strength_and_conditioning_professional_standards_and_ guidelines.pdf. 
16. Quatman, CE, Gregory, DM, Khoury, J, Wall, EJ and Hewett, TE. Sex differences in “weightlifting” injuries presenting to United States emergency rooms. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(7): 2061-2067, 2009. 
17. Radcliffe, JR, Comfort, P, and Fawcett, T. Psychological strategies included by strength and conditioning coaches in applied strength and conditioning. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 29(9): 2641-2654, 2015. 
18. Smith, A, Andrish, J, and Micheli, L. The prevention of sport injuries of children and adolescents. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 25: 1-7, 1993. 
19. Statler, T, and Brown, V. Facility policies, procedures, and legal issues. In: Haff, GG, and Triplett, TN (Eds.), Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (4th ed.) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 623-640, 2016. 
20. Vaughn, JM, and Micheli, L. Strength training recommendations for the youth athlete. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America 19(2): 235-245, 2008. 
21. Wade, S, Pope, Z, and Simonson, S. How prepared are college freshmen athletes for the rigors of college strength and conditioning? A survey of college strength and conditioning coaches. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 28(10): 2746-2753, 2014. 
22. Wainwright, R. Attorney at Law. Personal Correspondence. Weatherford, TX : Law Office of Reed Wainwright, 2016. 
23. Williams, PA, and Cash, TF. Effects of a circuit weight training program on the body images of college students. International Journal of Eating Disorders 30(1): 75-82, 2001. 
24. Youth Sports Safety Alliance. National Action Plan for Sports Safety. 2013. Retrieved 2016 from http://www.youthsportssafetyalliance.org/sites/default/files/docs/NationalAction-Plan.pdf.
25. Zatsiorsky, VM, and Kraemer, WJ. Strength training for young athletes. In: Zatsiorsky, VM, and Kraemer, WJ (Eds.), Science and Practice of Strength Training (2nd ed.) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 191-213, 2006.

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