NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Episode 25: Steve Hess

by Scott Caulfield and Steve Hess
Coaching Podcast March 2018


Steve Hess, Chief Performance Officer at Panorama Orthopedics and Spine Center, talks to the NSCA Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Scott Caulfield, about creating buy-in with sport coaches and athletes, becoming one of the first National Basketball Association (NBA) strength and conditioning coaches, and staying current in an ever-changing field.

Steve Hess, MS, MATm, RTSm, CSCS, RSCC, is a 20-year professional basketball strength and conditioning coach based in Denver, CO. He is a co-owner and Chief Performance Officer at Panorama Orthopedics and Spine Center. Hess is a former co-owner of FORZA Fitness and Performance Center and is one of 12 trainers worldwide who sits on the Under Armour Performance Training Council. He is also the official spokesperson for the National Sports Center for the Disabled and is a member of National Basketball Association (NBA) Team Fit. In addition, Hess has been featured on NBA Inside Stuff, All-Access with Ahmad Rashad, NBATV, The Eating Network, Men’s Fitness, Men’s Health, Celebrity Sweat, and the Altitude Sports and Entertainment Network. 

Find Steve on Twitter: @steve13hess | Find Scott on Twitter: @scottcaulfield

Show Notes

“If you don’t have coaches’ buy-in, it’s hard to run a program—especially in professional sports.” 2:18

“I hate to use terms like ‘greatness’ because those are unattainable goals.” 2:37

“To be authentic, you have to have a knowledge base behind what you’re saying.” 3:52

“Once you have more tools, you become more accountable for the things you do.” 4:30

“If you‘re a true leader in your field, the buck stops with you.” 4:42

“I got the job after calling Allen Bristow every day for 3 months, so I know when they looked at the phone they were like, ‘It’s this dude again, my gosh just hire him!’” 6:05

“I gave stuff up, I worked 90 – 100 hours per week—not embellishing, these are facts.” 6:19

“In order to achieve goals, you have to understand things are going to be hard.” 6:35

“Unbelievable opportunity but took a big pay cut, but these are sacrifices, did they work out? I really think they did.” 7:00

“I never ever have any regrets on anything because I’m always moving forward.” 7:15

“If this is a field you choose, please understand it’s not going to look the way you think it’s going to look, but if you have a specific goal, get to that goal.” 7:25

“Do what no one else is doing, stay pertinent, keep studying, and understand you’re never going to get to the top of the hill because there is no top of the hill.” 7:49

“I’ve got a lot of learning to do. I’m going to peak at 70 years old, so I’ve got 20 years to peak.” 9:15

“Can I go to a desert island and train an athlete with nothing? Yes, I can. Can everyone? No, they can’t…” 11:12

“I don’t believe in balance and I’m not balanced, I’ve got an unbelievable family.” 12:13

“It’s not what you have, it’s what excites you.” 13:08

“You have one responsibility—make yourself happy. If you’re not happy, you can’t help anyone else.” 13:18

“If you’re authentic in your beliefs, do as much as you can. Everything I’ve done is because I’m excited and I want to touch as many lives as I possibly can.” 15:28

“I’ve absolutely unequivocally never been motivated by money.” 15:40

“Everything I’ve done in my life has set me up for this point.” 16:45

“Half the time I’m in a room with people so much smarter than me and I’m like, ‘This is the coolest thing!’” 17:01

“But here’s the thing—no one is better than me because while I may be replaceable, I’m not repeatable.” 17:08

“If you’re authentic in your approach you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not—so you can wake up every day and be who you are.” 19:37

“Everyone I hire has things that I don’t have and are way better than me in certain aspects, and I look to that so that I can grow. I don’t want to hire clones of myself.” 21:23

“My selfish goal is that I want to hire you to make our program better because this program is not about me and it’s not about you, it’s about the athlete.” 21:56

“Be authentic to who you are, especially with social media… just get it out there and be authentic in your approach.” 23:30

“If you have truly chosen this field, it’s going to take you 15 years to become relevant.” 23:56

“Instagram’s not real, Facebook’s not real, Twitter’s not real; I love posting positive stuff on there but that’s not who I am.” 25:11

“If you have 24 million followers and that authenticates who you are, you may want to re-look at who you are.” 25:35

“The realness comes out of a selfless action to get people better and the thing is don’t be scared to fail.” 25:45

“How you affect people and how you adjust their lives and make them feel without you is really, really important.” 26:55

“A lot of times you’re half dead too and you don’t want to be there but it’s not about you, so you got to find a way to platform it so they buy in.” 28:00

“Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and think ours is the only way—if you don’t interject other ways you’re going to have problems.” 28:41

“You have to make a plan and you have to make it about them [the athletes].” 29:05

“I learned I’ve got to integrate other people’s opinions because there are a lot of people way smarter than me and I know enough to know I know enough.” 31:15

“I don’t just integrate other opinions. I listen and I assimilate it, and I make it my own.” 31:33

“Be in the moment—some of the stuff you’re going to do you’re going to hate because it’s going to be challenging, but be in the moment.” 33:02

“I drove to Florida with $20 and no phone.” 35:25

“I’m learning new stuff every day.” 36:44

“If you’re going to work as a strength and conditioning coach in professional sports, you’re going to have to have the CSCS.” 37:00

“I’m not saying you have to agree with everything, but you have to learn from everything.” 37:19

“People don’t see this it’s not all glamorous—we’re in Minnesota and its 23 below freezing and we just lost a game and guess whose tagging bags? We are tagging bags.” 37:50

“If you have a perspective and it’s who you are and it’s what you’re made up of, then you can handle anything.” 38:28

“In the professional realm, it’s wins, losses, and how you’re able to keep people on the field.” 39:58

“If you don’t have a thick skin and you don’t have an ability to think through some of the tougher situations, you absolutely cannot last.” 40:10

“It’s the same as life, the same people who are going to be successful in life are going to be successful in professional sports.” 40:40

“If you’re not adaptive, you’re not creative, and you don’t continually evolve, you absolutely unequivocally have no shot of lasting as a professional strength coach at any professional level.” 41:18

“It’s the same excitement year 1 as it is year 21 with those guys [Bill Foran and Dwight Daub].” 42:55

“The one common thing we have is that we live for this field.” 43:25

“The reason I write is that I hate writing… but what it does is it makes me sit down and think through the process.” 44:13

“I think the NSCA does a really good job of creating a broad spectrum of views that you can incorporate.” 44:45

“I think we have an obligation to give back to our younger professionals.” 45:59

“Get out of your comfort realm, do stuff that scares you, that’s the stuff that makes you learn.” 48:15

“A lot of times we’ve become so enamored with the fact that we’re so smart that our programming is pre-existing in our heads and we program before we even see our athletes.” 50:30

Reporting Errors: To report errors in a podcast episode requiring correction or clarification, email the editor at publications@nsca.com or write to NSCA, attn: Publications Dept., 1885 Bob Johnson Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Your letter should be clearly marked as a letter of complaint. Please (a) identify in writing the precise factual errors in the published podcast episode (every false, factual assertion allegedly contained therein), (b) explain with specificity what the true facts are, and (c) include your full name and contact information.

Photo of Scott P. Caulfield, MA, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F,*D, RSCC*E
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Scott P. Caulfield, MA, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F,*D, RSCC*E

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Stephen B. Hess, CSCS, RSCC*E

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