Ways to Structure a High School Strength and Conditioning Position

There are five ways that a strength and conditioning position is typically structured in a high school. Each position structure has its own pros and cons that should be evaluated for your specific situation.

Full-Time Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®)

Pros/Benefits Cons/Drawbacks
  • The best option for developing a unified strength and conditioning program for the athletic department. This is very important for creating buy-in for the training process, eliminating competition between programs for athletes (especially during the off-season), and ultimately developing a sport culture at the high school that is conducive to creating the best possible competitive experience for young athletes.
  • The best situation for developing a positive, meaningful relationship with their student-athletes, which is essential for the success of the program.
  • A qualified professional in a full-time setting has the best opportunity to closely evaluate their athletes on a regular basis, aiding in program design and modifications.
  • Work with Certified Athletic Trainers (ATC) on injury prevention and return to play.
  • Generate revenue with the summer weights program.
  • Free up sport coach time or eliminate an assistant coach position.
  • Helps standardize the testing program for all sports.
  • Helps in evaluation of athletes for injury prevention.
  • One person responsible for everything (e.g., equipment, cleaning, etc.).
  • The weight room is one of the best breeding grounds for success in all areas of life. The impact the full-time coach can make on young athletes’ character development and the school and community is immeasurable.
  • This can be the most expensive optionfor a district.

Split Position Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist®/ Physical Education (PE) Teacher or Educator

Pros/BenefitsCons/Drawbacks
  • Many of the same strengths as the full-time Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.
  • Being involved full-time in the daily on-goings of the high school allows the strength and conditioning professional the best opportunity to promote their program and gain the trust of the students and administration.
  • Ability to build trust with coaches and have ongoing communication with sport coaches to understand and have a balance of training and sport practice.
  • Training students during the day in a PE class eliminates conflicts with after school practices.
  • A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist is most qualified to implement an educational curriculum to coincide with the training program during PE class. This helps improve athlete buy-in and addresses several national PE standards as well.
  • Ability to build a quadrennial plan from 9th grade to 12th grade.
  • Compensation: potentially the most financially rewarding option (i.e., full-time teaching salary, benefits, and possibly a coaching stipend for before/after school).
  • Eliminates programming and coaching bias that may occur when a sport coach is in charge of these duties (i.e., a football coach programming for his athletes instead of the needs of the entire athletic department).
  • The weight room is one of the best breeding grounds for success in all areas of life. The impact the full time coach can make on young athlete’s character development and the school and community is immeasurable.
  • Topics discussed in a health education curriculum will help a strength and conditioning coach gain credibility as topics such as nutrition and sleep are in his/her scope of practice.
  • In a public school, a professional teaching license is usually required. This may eliminate a large portion of the qualified candidate pool since many people who pursued strength and conditioning in college did not follow a teacher education track.
  • Duties may include teaching other traditional physical education or health education classes. Again, this may be challenging or less than desirable for someone who wants to solely focus on strength and conditioning for athletes.

Part-Time Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (Coaching Stipend for Before and/or After School Duties Only)

Pros/BenefitsCons/Drawbacks
  • Improves the quality of programming and supervision over a less-qualified sport coach running the strength and conditioning programs.
  • Eliminates programming and coaching bias that may occur when a sport coach is in charge of these duties (i.e., a football coach programming for his athletes instead of the needs of the entire athletics department).
  • Inconsistencies between what is being emphasized, and taught in the before/after school program by the certified strength and conditioning specialist and the PE department during classes.
  • Only having availability before/after school limits the amount of student-athletes that can be trained. Especially when considering working around in-season practice schedules.
  • Coaching stipends are not typically very much. This might make it hard to retain a qualified professional.
  • If programming in-season workouts or in-class workouts, difficulty practicing correct technique if PE teacher is unaware of movements or different use of terminology.
  • The weight room is one of the best breeding grounds for success in all areas of life. Not having a full-time professional available takes away from the impact the coach can make on young athletes’ character development.

Designated Sport Coach with Seasonal Duties in the Weight Room (i.e., a Football Coach in Charge of the Program During the Off-Season)

Pros/BenefitsCons/Drawbacks
  • Depending on the education and training provided, this option may be more safe and effective than each individual sport coach designing and implementing their own program.  
  • If a well-respected coach at school uses the weight room, that coach can help other coaches in other sports recruit student-athletes to understand the importance of physical preparation.
  • Lack of training and/or a professional certification makes having a training program designed and implemented by a sport coach potentially unsafe and ineffective.  
  • Lack of a unified strength and conditioning program creates tension between sport programs, decreases buy-in for the training process, and ultimately fails to build a positive sports culture at the high school setting.

Contracted Position (Either Individual or a Company)

Pros/BenefitsCons/Drawbacks
  • If a company is contracted, this allows for more flexibility in scheduling compared to just one contracted coach.
  • A trustworthy outsourced strength and conditioning coach can be relied on when parents and athletes want extra training outside of school.
  • Might not know what the student-athlete is doing in sports or gym class, leading to a risk of overtraining.
  • They may have a conflict of interest between what is best for the students and the school, versus what is best for their gym.
  • The weight room is one of the best breeding grounds for success in all areas of life. Not having a full-time coach available takes away from the impact the coach can make on young athletes’ character development.
  • Oftentimes the person placed in a contracted position changes seasonally.
  • Oftentimes the person placed is one of the lower level coaches at the outsourced facility as well. High school positions should not be looked at as entry-level positions.
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