NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Episode 51: Hunter Schurrer

by Scott P. Caulfield, MA, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D, and Hunter A. Schurrer
Coaching Podcast April 2019

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Hunter Schurrer, contracted Human Performance Specialist for Fort Lewis, Washington 1st Special Forces Group talks to the NSCA Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Scott Caulfield, about Schurrer’s experience working with collegiate athletes, his mentors at the beginning of his strength and conditioning career, and his transition from Division 1 athletics to tactical strength and conditioning. Topics under discussion include coaching colligate athletes, transitioning to the tactical setting, and training special forces groups. 

Find Scott on Twitter: @scottcaulfield

hschurrer@gmail.com

Show Notes

“They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” 7:33

“It’s much bigger than ‘Ok, we have to get ready for this game on Saturday.’” 10:46

“We are here for you, and start to just let the training speak for itself.” 17:45

“We’re going on rucks and overnight stuff with them because we want to feel and understand what they’re going through.” 18:08

“[As strength coaches] we try and be extensions without over-stepping our bounds of other people on the staff so we can give each other a heads up so we’re all working towards that one common goal.” 27:11

“It’s like anything else, you gotta get involved.” 41:34

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.

Transcript

[00:00:00.88] Welcome to NSCA's Coaching Podcast, episode 51.
[00:00:06.43] We're going on rucks and overnight stuff with them because we want to feel and understand what they're going through.
[00:00:12.70] This is the NSCA's Coaching Podcast, where we talk to strength and conditioning coaches about what you really need to know but probably didn't learn in school. There's strength and conditioning, and then there's everything else.
[00:00:23.74] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I am Scott Caulfield. Today with me, Hunter Schurrer, Human Performance Specialist, Fort Lewis, Washington, working with the 1st Special Forces Group. Hunter, welcome to the show.
[00:00:35.63] Thank you for having me, Scott.
[00:00:36.76] Yeah, awesome to have you here. You're here in town for the TSAC Leaders Summit. So how's that been for you so far?
[00:00:43.33] It's been great. Not just the presenters that we've had so far, but just the minds in that room. To be able to just talk shop and hang out and see what everybody's doing from a lot of just different demographics, as far as who they're working with, their backgrounds. That's kind of the best part, is some of that networking that you get to do outside of the presentations, to really get to know people and what they're doing.
[00:01:04.06] Totally. Such a huge part of it outside, and getting meals with people. This is a invitation only thing, and it's called the Leader Summit. How is this different than some of the other TSAC specific events? Was there a specific goal that's coming out of it?
[00:01:22.72] Yeah. It's nice because you've got, to an extent, a certain level of experience. You've got people that were a lot of the pioneers, with a lot of the military training, that started probably close to a decade ago. Not that it wasn't going on beforehand, but really where that focus was really started to push, that this is an area that is lacking and is long overdue as far as training for, whether it's military, fire, SWAT, whatever it may be.
[00:01:48.94] And so you've got a lot of these people, specifically, in the room, that laid a lot of the groundwork that has created this separate tactical branch so to speak. So to get to know people that are instrumental and that have created this field in general has been huge. So to be a part of that's been a real nice honor.
[00:02:04.81] That's awesome. Yeah, that's huge. Cool. We'll dive more into TSAC stuff a little bit more later. But I want to get, from you, a little bit more just icebreaker questions, let the audience get to know you a little. How about talk about maybe sports that you played in high school. What did do you do back in the day?
[00:02:26.47] I grew up playing everything. I was very fortunate to grow up in the '80s and '90s, where you were out from the morning until the sun came down. But in high school, I played football. I grew up in a small town in South Dakota. So I played a little bit of everything position-wise, from offensive line to defensive line to linebacker to whatever it may be. I was about 200 pounds, so could just move around and do whatever. Played basketball. And then threw discus in high school as well.
[00:02:55.96] Cool. Did you get into lifting when you were in high school? Or not really.
[00:02:59.71] A little bit. Not enough to know what was going on. We had a weight room and you're familiar with stuff, but we didn't really have a ton of guidance.
[00:03:07.12] Gotcha.
[00:03:08.29] So you did anything that was fun, nothing that was probably really worthwhile, unfortunately. [CHUCKLE]
[00:03:13.17] (CHUCKLING) Yeah, yeah, yeah. You said you're from South Dakota. You're in Washington now. What's the best state, or your favorite state that you've ever been to so far?
[00:03:23.60] I love Washington, where I'm at now. My wife and I, we live up in the Seattle area, just north of that. And it's beautiful. I mean, you've got Puget Sound, which is right there. The mountains are 5, 10 minutes away. And then you've got the city.
[00:03:38.47] Nice.
[00:03:39.31] Seattle kind of gets a bad rap as far as the weather. But I mean, for the most part, it's 50 to 70 degrees, and the summers are gorgeous. But again, I've been really fortunate. I've lived in a lot of places, from Virginia to Texas. I was born up in Boulder, Colorado. I coached at Wyoming. So I've seen a lot of different places, and you can pick apart what were great and what areas lacked otherwise.
[00:04:02.74] Definitely. No, I've been up that way too. And the mountains and the ocean in that close proximity, too, is a pretty cool thing.
[00:04:11.14] Yes, it's definitely tough to beat.
[00:04:13.27] Nice. All right. How about another one, get some musical taste here. What was the first concert you ever went to?
[00:04:22.00] Man. So I grew up in Spearfish, which is about 15 minutes down the road from Sturgis. And Sturgis has the huge motorcycle rally. And with that, you get all sorts of concerts and everything else. So I think the first show I ever saw was—it might have been Def Leppard—
[00:04:40.60] Nice.
[00:04:41.20] —at the Buffalo Chip Campground. And if anybody knows anything about the Buffalo Chip, is kind of an anything goes type of place. And so I think I was in maybe eighth grade or something like that. And you just see things, and it's a whole new world.
[00:04:57.58] [LAUGHTER]
[00:04:58.30] I can only imagine.
[00:04:59.35] Yeah.
[00:04:59.90] That's great. I think Def Leppard, Pour Some Sugar on Me, was the second concert I ever went to, in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, back in the day.
[00:05:08.08] Nice.
[00:05:08.74] That's great. Cool. Well, you talked about college a little bit. You went to Wyoming. As a athlete, talk a little bit about—
[00:05:18.99] As a coach.
[00:05:19.67] As a coach.
[00:05:20.18] Yup.
[00:05:21.36] And you were there. Was that your first job?
[00:05:24.43] It was my first real job—
[00:05:25.43] A real job.
[00:05:25.83] Yeah. So I did my undergrad in South Dakota at Black Hills State. They were an NAI school at the time, and I threw the discus, hammer, and weight while I was there. I did my masters at the University of Virginia. So I was a grad assistant there, and that's really where I got into strength and conditioning.
[00:05:43.06] And coming from a small school, I didn't even know anything about it. It wasn't until later on that I learned about, whether it was the NSCA and prepping for to take my CSCS. But then I couldn't—at UVA, I fell in love with strength and conditioning so did my masters there. I was a grad assistant there. And then Wyoming was my first real job, so to speak.
[00:06:02.78] Yeah. So did you know about—that it was an actual profession when you went to do that graduate school? Or was that where you learned that, oh, wait. This could be an actual career.
[00:06:12.34] Yeah, kind of my senior year. I always knew I wanted to be around athletics and be involved in that, and I didn't know if that meant being an athletic trainer. And then I learned more about the strength and conditioning was an actual field, because I actually enjoyed the training aspect probably more than I did the throwing. And the strength aspect allowed me to have some success in track.
[00:06:36.04] But once I got to Virginia, that's where I fell in love with it. And I was really fortunate there to have some really good mentors. Evan Marcus, who's with the Browns now, he was the head football guy there at the time. And then Ed Nordenschild. Ed's the head Olympic guy still at UVA.
[00:06:52.68] He's been there forever.
[00:06:54.16] Yeah. And so two really great guys, tons of experience. And they were definitely the right people at the right time to get me to fall in love with that field and this job and this profession.
[00:07:03.91] That's cool. What are some of the key things that those guys, longtime strength coaches, imparted on you as a mentor? And what are the real aspects from those people that you took away?
[00:07:19.30] One of the first things I learned from Evan was learning to care about your athletes, as far as—he taught me early on that if—these guys are smart. And the people that you're going to be working with are smart. They're intuitive. And they don't care what you know until they know how much you care. And I've never seen, in the two years that I was there, I've never seen a group of guys work harder for a coach than I saw them work for Evan.
[00:07:42.71] Wow. That's—
[00:07:43.51] I mean, he could get those guys ready to go. They worked really hard. And so to see that work ethic carry over into a lot of the success that UVA football had while I was there was awesome to see. And I think Evan played a huge role in that.
[00:07:56.32] That's cool. Someone else and I were just talking about that too. And to some degree, yes, they also, to some degree, don't necessarily care how much you know, right?
[00:08:09.00] Yup. Exactly.
[00:08:09.43] I mean, they do at some point, and definitely the different levels that you go. And I'm sure when we talk about the guys you work with now, they're going to care what you know and how you know. But a lot of time, they really do just care—they care about them more than actually what you know.
[00:08:24.00] They want to know that you're invested in them, and that whatever knowledge you know, you are actually applying to them personally opposed to just trying to fit them into your regime or your mindset or whatever it may be. So you definitely got to get to know your athletes. What motivates them? What drives them? And what are they there for in the first place?
[00:08:41.62] Yeah, that's cool. And definitely as you transition into a different role with tactical, that's huge. So you spent about seven years in the college setting.
[00:08:50.77] Yup.
[00:08:54.64] How did you even hear about the tactical world? Because I think a lot of people—it's so new still.
[00:08:59.47] Yup. Yeah, it definitely is. I was really fortunate. We had a great staff at Wyoming. And we've had, actually, a number of those people that have fanned out or that are in the tactical world now. One of the assistants with me at Wyoming, Rob Hartman, who's now up at Fort Lewis as well. He was one of the first to get into it. He was one of the guys that really got the ball rolling and was on the ground when a lot of the companies and everything were trying to learn, what would it take to bring strength coaches into this world?
[00:09:27.91] So Rob definitely played a huge role in that as far as letting me know that these positions are going to be coming opening and as far as, if this is something you're interested in, you should definitely throw your name in the hat. Initially, at the time, I wasn't ready to leave the college setting. I loved it. When I was at Wyoming, I was working with men's basketball.
[00:09:46.50] Nice.
[00:09:47.93] And I loved it. Those guys were my babies. It was just—you had 15 guys, and I could tell you anything and everything about them.
[00:09:55.66] But then the opportunity came, as far as the tactical world. And it was a new opportunity working with, obviously, a unique population. And that snowballed from there, as far as falling in love with that community, being able to give back. But it's a great place to be, to say the least.
[00:10:11.85] That's cool. What was the biggest, let's call it a difficulty—but the biggest change, maybe, for you from going from D1 college to that tactical, special forces, army guys?
[00:10:27.07] I guess just the understanding, as far as what's your purpose there. And you really have to understand that you play a very small role. And it's easy to get caught up in the fact that, yes, you want them to train hard and do all the things so they're physically ready, but you have to understand that they have a lot of other stressors.
[00:10:43.32] These are grown men with real-world things going on. And it's much bigger than, OK, we've got to get ready for this game on Saturday, or we've got a game against so-and-so or whatever it is. So it's really taking that step back and looking at, what is your role in making sure that these guys are as healthy as can be? Your role in keeping them in that place so they can perform to the best of their ability with things that actually really matter.
[00:11:08.22] And how well can you guys plan? I mean, obviously you're good planners. But with a deployment schedule and things that come up in the world, how far ahead of time—are you guys able to plan stuff out? Or are you changing on the fly a lot?
[00:11:25.41] You have to be flexible. And it's going to differ, I think, depending on the unit where people are at. Whatever is going on with the Ranger schedule or the Seals or with us in special forces, which is the Green Berets—at least with us, their schedules are very hectic. They can be all over the place, from their deployments—
[00:11:45.15] And even a lot of the time when they're home, they've got a lot—they're on leave, so they get that time with their families to rest and recuperate. So even a lot of times when they're home, they're not home, at least with us. And so trying to then plan around those schedules—
[00:11:58.68] And then they have other things going on, from language labs to other schools, to always making sure that they're pushing their actual career forward with different skill sets. And so then to try to then fit that physical aspect of training in is difficult.
[00:12:12.90] And so you have to remain flexible. You have to understand, how often is this guy coming in? Do we know when he's going to be coming in? And then from there, try to build at least some sort of periodized model, so to speak, in which you're not just throwing up some general, random workout of the day up. And you're not just—there's actual training going on. And so how do you adapt that to make sure that they have training going forward to fit in with what can be a very hectic schedule.
[00:12:41.19] Yeah. So how many guys do you guys serve in 1st Special Forces Group?
[00:12:47.41] Man, we've got between—so you've got your staff and support staff, which is the people that basically help out the operators of the Green Berets. And you could have anywhere between 1,500 to 2,000 people in a group.
[00:13:00.54] Wow. OK.
[00:13:01.59] And then in addition to that, you're going to have another 700, give or take, operators or Green Berets—now based off their schedules, who's around. And again, we're a voluntary service. We want to make sure that if they don't want to utilize us, they don't have to.
[00:13:15.66] And they have so much already being pushed down on them that we want to make sure that we're at least a resource for them. How they decide to utilize us, whether that's coming in full bore and letting us take over all their training. Whether that's making sure that we're at least communicating with the teams to understand what they're doing and how can we then help make sure—if they want to do their own thing, or if they even utilize us at all.
[00:13:37.62] And so it just—to say that we oversee all of that would probably be a little bit of a stretch. But we want to at least make sure that we're getting our hands in that so they understand that we're there for one reason. And that's just to help serve them.
[00:13:49.86] That's very cool. All right. I asked Jeff this, who works for the Rangers, yesterday. But give me a snapshot of a typical day, if you guys are just not on deployment. You're at the Fort Lewis. What's the—
[00:14:03.30] So we'll run morning training sessions. And we found the most success with that because for the most part, they'll have designated PT hours. And so we'll run two groups in the morning, usually between 6:00 and 9:00 AM. That'll be just the majority of the stuff that they'll go on because they have such hectic schedules and other things going on throughout the day. They know that those times are steadfast, that they can come in and get the training in that they need during those times without missing a beat.
[00:14:31.98] Now that said, we'll definitely open up other times throughout the day. So it could vary based off their schedule. We could have training sessions at 8:30, at 11:00, at 1300 or 1 o'clock in the afternoon, at 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. So it can just vary day to day. So that's where that flexibility piece comes in.
[00:14:48.75] Definitely.
[00:14:50.64] But we'll do majority of our training in the morning.
[00:14:53.31] And then it comes down to a lot of, just communication with—we've got a lot of guys that are downrange. We've got a lot of guys on deployments. And so now it's like, where are you at? What are the resources that you have to train with?
[00:15:06.34] You've got some guys that may be stuck in a very small compound that can't leave that, that now need to somehow maintain their physical fitness. You've got other guys that are at larger posts and bases, and they can do anything that they could do at home.
[00:15:21.08] And so it's a lot of communication with guys downrange because a lot of their scheduling, they might be gone more than they are at home. And so if we only train when we're at home, we're going to take two steps back every time they're gone—and so to make sure that they're getting the training that they need. So it's a lot of communication.
[00:15:37.54] And then we'll take care of a lot of our programming and paperwork, and then just logistics on the job. We'll do a lot of assessments and whatnot during the afternoon as well, when we can handle a little bit of smaller groups. And then we'll open up, kind of over our noon hour, give or take.
[00:15:53.55] We want to make sure that even though maybe our primary mission might not be our staff and support staff, a lot of the times they still, one, they need to be physically ready and be able to—whether it's pass their PT test, stay healthy.
[00:16:06.64] Because at the end of the day, we want to make sure that however they're long in the military, or even when they get out, they can actually have a normal life. And they're not just completely beat up. And so we want to make sure that we still offer training to our non-operators. So we'll do some training sessions with them as well.
[00:16:25.56] And so day-to-day, it could flow. We could have two training sessions in the morning, with a lot of paperwork and communication throughout the day. We could have four, five, six training sessions throughout the day based off what's going on. So it can vary day to day. So that flexibility piece—
[00:16:39.58] Yeah. It's huge.
[00:16:40.21] —cannot be understated.
[00:16:40.84] I bet. And I'm sure it's like college. You have different types of people and personalities.
[00:16:47.94] No question.
[00:16:50.86] Was it easier to get buy-in from these guys to do your training? Or harder? Or depends on the person?
[00:16:58.89] Yes. And I say yes because yeah, it depends on the person. I mean, at the end of the day, it's just like any other demographic. You've got guys that are going to want to—they're going to want to be in the weight room. You got guys that are going to want to run. You got guys that are going to want to do whatever type of training that they want to do on their own.
[00:17:15.47] I've been out there for 7 and 1/2 years now almost, which I was fortunate to get there almost, really, when the programs kind of kicked off. And so buy-in initially was tough because, who are these guys? We're civilians. We're coming in. And now we're trying to tell them how to train.
[00:17:34.26] And that's been one of the big things is why we wanted to make things voluntary. Because we didn't want to come in and try to push our training down their throat. We wanted to make sure that, we are here for you. And start to just, kind of word of mouth and let the training speak for itself when people started to utilize us.
[00:17:50.98] So buy-in was tough initially. But again, it just kind of snowballed—and from different ways to create that buy-in as far as helping them train. We wanted to get out and spend as much time in the field with them as possible—so get out of the weight room and show that, OK, we're at the ranges with them because we want to understand what they're going through. We're going on rucks and overnight stuff with them because we want to feel and understand what they're going through.
[00:18:15.52] And once they start to see that, OK, wow. These guys are now taking time out of their own life. Maybe it's off-hours stuff, just trying to learn who we are and what we go through. They actually do care about why they're here and trying to help as opposed to just trying to, we're going to train this way. We're going to worry about this exercise or whatever it may be and go from there.
[00:18:35.56] Was that pretty eye-opening to you? Going out on some stuff with them and like, holy cow. This is—
[00:18:42.62] It is.
[00:18:42.82] —what these guys do?
[00:18:44.92] It's a whole different animal. And the endurance piece, I think so much, is what's different from college athletic and team sports or field sports for the most part. Because you've got mission sets that might last a day or two. Or the fact that they're going and stopping and going and stopping for very long periods of time, not just an hour or two hours that you need to prepare for.
[00:19:09.31] But one of the things that I would love to be able to take back to that college athletic thing is, these guys are very good at being uncomfortable. I mean, you've got, at least within special forces, you have a group of 12 guys. In that group of 12 guys, you have different skill sets on that team. And so you could have very—12 different individuals.
[00:19:30.01] And out of that, the one underlying factor is these guys, one, not only just care a lot about each other, but two, the fact that they are very good at being uncomfortable. And they maybe not have—not that—I mean, some of them do have the physical prowess that a lot of division 1 and professional athletes have. But a lot of them might not.
[00:19:47.77] But their ability to do so much more with sometimes less is something that you wish you could take to these kids that have maybe some athletic gifts that—and get them to understand what is physically possible. So that's something that is very eye-opening and something that you're awestruck in as far as like, wow. These guys, they're just on a whole different level when it comes to that mental game.
[00:20:07.81] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Is there anything you guys do to help enhance their—I hate the word mental toughness, but that side of things for them? Are you utilizing sports psych and all the other different aspects?
[00:20:27.10] We do. I mean, we're fortunate on our staff. We do have a very good sports psychologist, Dr. Kate Colvin. She's very good at what she does. She's been around the military for a while. So it's not just, we're going to visualize some free throws and then go from there. It's a lot about stress management and control and understand that when things go wrong, how do you then pull back? Or when you get excited, how do you control that heart rate and that breathing rate.
[00:20:51.79] But so much of what they do in their own training outside of the weight room handles a lot of that, whether it's building the trust on the team or preparing them for their mission stuff. So we'll get into some of that as far as the physical stuff in the weight room, or outside of the weight room when we're training.
[00:21:09.28] Because yes, we want to make sure that what we're doing physically is harder or more demanding than anything that maybe they have to go through in their job so that's not a shock by any means or they're not prepared for it. But there's only so much you can do in regards to creating that physical stress to try to teach that mental toughness.
[00:21:28.68] Totally.
[00:21:30.34] We're really fortunate as far as being close up to the Seahawks. They've come down quite a bit. And you've got the coaching staff up there is like, how do you guys teach trust and team building? And it almost kind of became a joke. It's like, that's just kind of ingrained by the time—
[00:21:44.20] The culture.
[00:21:44.54] —they get to this level. Like, you're not at this level if you don't trust the guy, rely on the guy next to you. Or you don't have that mental toughness, you would not have gotten through whatever selection process to get to this level.
[00:21:56.35] No, that's great. Because I do—I don't like even using the word. Because I think in college athletics, or high school especially, it just gets abused too much.
[00:22:04.75] It is. And it's—
[00:22:05.59] It is. Like you just said, it's almost like, no, you will need to have this to be successful. If you don't have it at this point, it's not going to happen.
[00:22:13.76] Yeah. You have to have that to get through the schools and the selections to where they're at. I mean, that's why those things are there, to weed out. I mean, if you can survive, you're going to be able to get the best training you can to do your job.
[00:22:27.45] Yeah. No, that's great. And you've been there a little over seven years you said?
[00:22:31.15] Yup.
[00:22:34.42] How's it looking—I mean, I know people have talked about, oh, these contracts. They end sometimes, and then they get pulled out from under you. Is job security—I mean, you've been there almost a decade, so it seems like it's been a pretty good—
[00:22:46.45] It has.
[00:22:47.34] Are you worried about, oh, no. We might not get this contract. I mean, at least you probably know—
[00:22:53.80] Yes.
[00:22:53.92] —you're not going to get fired for the team not winning, technically.
[00:22:57.28] Yeah, and that's the thing. You understand that it is a contract. But at the same time, I'll talk to—I'm still very well connected, and I've got some good friends that are in the college game or in the NFL. And their jobs are just as—they might have a contract, but they're still—the job might be in more jeopardy because they can't necessarily control the factors.
[00:23:18.40] Not that we can, and unfortunately, a number of years ago, there was a big cut in a lot of the technical world. And people lost their jobs due to no fault of their own.
[00:23:28.07] Right.
[00:23:29.11] Which stinks because there are a lot of great coaches that, unfortunately, we don't have with us anymore. But yeah. I mean, I think the fact that I've been there for a little over seven years—in the coaching world, that's a long time. I mean, that's a very long time. But between the environment I've worked in with the guys, living up in the Seattle area, it's a great place to be. And nothing's really set in stone for any job.
[00:23:55.96] For sure. For sure.
[00:23:57.04] Not that you're not worried about the contracts or—because I am a contractor myself. But I've been fortunate, for the most part. I've had really good relationships with contract companies that I've had. But I think it's just like any other job. Budget cuts could get made. You could lose your job, and then you just have to go from there.
[00:24:16.16] So I think to focus on that would just—and miss out as far as what the big picture is and what you're—I'm very fortunate to do would be a loss to just think about that aspect.
[00:24:25.61] Yeah. That's great. Keep your mind where your feet are. How many staff do you guys have there? Strength coach wise?
[00:24:33.01] So we've got three strength coaches on staff. We've got a human performance coordinator, who's a little more of an administrative role who oversees everything but comes from that strength and conditioning world. And then we've got three strength coaches on staff that are contractors.
[00:24:50.02] We've got two physical therapists on staff that are contractors, an athletic trainer who's a contractor, and then a performance psych, a dietitian, and then a data analyst/sports/science type person. And then we've got active duty physical therapists and a PT tech. So we've got a really good staff.
[00:25:13.52] Yeah. You guys function pretty well as a team as well?
[00:25:16.51] We do. We're all in the same building. We're all under the same roof. I mean, from the PT clinic—we have a door that just separates the strength and conditioning offices to the PT clinic. So we're literally yelling back and forth.
[00:25:29.32] As far as the guys that we're working with, we'll stop in. It's like, did so-and-so come in today? And they're swinging over, are you working with this guy? And the relationship that we have—because a few of us have been there a number of years. Just the integration that we have with each other, the trust that we have, is amazing. We work really well together.
[00:25:50.68] The big thing is just getting the guys to understand that we're here for them and that we're not trying to step on the rehab side of things. We're trying to make sure that we're always bridging whatever they're at. So it's not one or the other. We can always work around something. If you've got something going on with the shoulder or hip, we still got three other good limbs in the rest of that body. So we can tweak and modify everything.
[00:26:13.09] And I think that's the biggest thing that the military community is still getting used to, is the fact that a lot of times when they were hurt, they were getting put on profile. And then they're worried about losing maybe their team spot. And so with that, then they'd pull themselves out. Like, I don't want to report my injuries because if I do, then I'm going to lose my team spot. Then I'm going to get pulled back. Then I can't be with my guys. I can't go on the mission. I'm the weak link.
[00:26:37.14] And so building that trust or that buy-in that we talked about earlier is huge because now they understand that, OK, wow. Even though I do have something minor with my shoulder, I can go in and I can talk to them so this doesn't become a surgery issue or something else going on. And so we've got a great relationship amongst our staff to communicate.
[00:26:55.23] And as strength coaches, we spend a lot of the time with our guys on the floor, probably more so than maybe some of the other realms on our staff do. And so you're looking for moods. OK. So-and-so is off today. Keep an eye on him. Let's see what's going on.
[00:27:09.34] Do we need to get him in and talk to our sports psych person to see what's going on? How's his nutrition? Do we need to—so we kind of try to be extensions without overstepping our bounds of other people on the staff so we can give each other heads up. And so we're all working towards that one common goal.
[00:27:25.01] That's cool. What's been some of your keys to building the relationships with those other support staff people?
[00:27:34.24] I think just trust and knowing that we're on the same page. We want to make sure—and we'll flat out just talk to each other. OK, what is the message that you want us to pass on? What is too far in which we're overstepping our bounds?
[00:27:46.51] Because we want to make sure that we're not allowing the guys to mommy and daddy us. So if they come to us, we're going to give the same piece of information that our nutritionist is, opposed to being like, they're out of their mind. This is how you need to be doing it. You need to get x amount of protein. No. It's like, what is her message? What can we then facilitate down?
[00:28:05.72] And the same thing from the rehab side of things. It's like, you're beat up. What's going on? OK. This is what Doc so-and-so said. OK, then that's the course that we need to take, opposed to saying, oh, they don't know what they're talking about.
[00:28:19.84] The big thing's that communication and then trust. Because again, we've been there for a number of years. And make sure that you don't burn that bridge so now that line of communication is out and then you've got a lot of disconnect.
[00:28:32.61] Yeah. No, that's great. I think it probably helps being in a team centric setting too—where you know the guys you're working with are so team focused that if you guys weren't, it would be a real discrepancy for just people to train.
[00:28:46.54] Yeah, it would be a little bit of a cluster . Because again, we want to make sure that the trust that we've earned as a strength staff carries over to the nutritionist. And so if they see something going on to where they feel that we don't we don't have the trust with those guys, then that'll carry over. And the last thing we want to do is then our guys don't trust so-and-so but then that so-and-so doesn't trust as a coach. And then that, then, goes off into its own world.
[00:29:10.75] Yeah. No, that's great. We talked, too, a little bit—we're here at a Leaders Summit. You've spoken at the TSAC Annual Training Conference. Had you spoken before at different clinics? Or was that the first big-time speaking thing you did?
[00:29:29.38] It was the first bigger conference, bigger clinic that I've—I've spoken at little state stuff and whatnot before, not that that's little by all means. But as far as at a national conference—and it was good. I spoke on—down in Orlando at the annual TSAC Conference—not this past year, but the year before—about the training realities of special operations.
[00:29:51.33] Which got into—we touched on it a little bit earlier, as far as scheduling and all the additional factors that you have to consider when you're planning these guys' schedule out. Because they are grown men. So it's like, what's their sleep like? What's their situation at home? Are they going through a divorce? Do they have issues with their kids or their girlfriend? Are they having to over caffeinate in the morning to wake up? Do they have to drink to fall asleep at night?
[00:30:17.37] So you've got those factors going on. When was the last time they saw their family? Do they know—I mean, so just all these different things that you have to consider in regards to writing their programming. And not that there's anything wrong with it, but I think there's a lot of people out there that have—
[00:30:32.64] This is how you train Green Berets. This is how you train the tactical athlete. Well, that's great in the lab. So what happens when you don't know if that guy is going to come in five days that week or once a week? How much sleep—what if he's only getting three hours of sleep because he was on a night jump the night before? And the only time he has to come in is now at 10 o'clock and he's got 45 minutes?
[00:30:52.63] And so you have all these factors in which you have to be that filter in which you're taking the knowledge that you've had, the experience that you have—OK. This guy, when was the last time he was in? What's going on with his training? Where's he at? What do we need to do today to make sure that we're pushing that needle forward without putting him in a bad place?
[00:31:14.85] Because at the end of day, you've got a little bit of an older athlete. You don't have that 19-year-old kid or that freshman in college that you might have four to five years straight in which you could just build and build and build.
[00:31:26.58] This guy is going to be all over the map. He's going to have issues and wear and tear. And how do you modify all of these different factors to make sure that he is, first and foremost, healthy without trying to put the weight room first and like, oh, man, what's his squat? We got to get those legs strong, man. OK, that's great. But big picture, where does that fit in?
[00:31:45.06] Yeah. And then obviously you talked a little bit about it, experience and your—what you guys have done. How else do you prepare for creating a speech like that and presenting it?
[00:31:57.59] Man, just—other than looking into the research as far as what's out there, looking at some of the stressors, especially for that talk, but then talking to other coaches. Talking to our guys. Fortunately, this field's been around and it's taking off.
[00:32:13.26] Especially here at this summit. You've got about 40 people that are incredibly smart with amazing experience. And because it's such a small world of strength and conditioning, and a small world of strength and conditioning as a whole, everybody wants to help each other. Because you're not trying—well, we don't have to compete against so-and-so. So it's not an ego-driven thing, which I think sometimes maybe that football realm can be.
[00:32:37.68] So everybody's trying to help each other. Because at the end of the day, when one person wins, we all wins—we all win, excuse me. So if somebody's got some information that they have seen work, I can call so-and-so up at 7th group or so-and-so with the Seals or whoever that may be, and this is what we're seeing.
[00:32:56.70] Are you guys seeing anything like this? Or is this kind of an anomaly right now? OK, you are seeing that. So then we can kind of extrapolate that and start to look at larger points of data to some extent. Can we base what we're seeing as far as just the hypotheticals with actual tangible data that's we can line up with stuff to back up what we're doing?
[00:33:18.67] Yeah. No, that's huge—to talking to other people, especially, and having your network of other coaches and—that are doing the same things you guys are doing. No one's keeping secrets of what they're doing.
[00:33:29.46] Exactly.
[00:33:30.03] You mentioned the growth of the tactical operate—position. So is that growing Special Forces as well as the rest of the military? I mean, we see the Army's implementing new physical fitness standards for everybody. How is this stuff changing the opportunities for the future?
[00:33:52.11] There's a lot of rumors out there as far as, I guess—and I can't really speak on it because I don't have the actual knowledge of it. But there's a lot of rumors. Because they kind of started within the special operations community. We've already put a lot of dollars in, as far as—into these people as athletes, as humans, as soldiers.
[00:34:08.84] And OK, so let's start this human performance model here. And they've seen what that's done and all the benefits of it. And so it's now, OK, let's start to then take this down to big military, as far as outside the special operations unit.
[00:34:23.47] So I think this world is only going to continue to grow. I think at a lot of the sites right now, they're probably—because you have larger staffs at specific groups, I don't think you're going to see as much growth at the special operations units as you are now and to passing down the chain into big army so to speak.
[00:34:47.49] So once you're in—you're working with Special Forces army guys—is there a lot of changing? Like, going from working with Special Forces to working with Seals? Or do you see guys transferring jobs in—like you'd see in more movement in college, obviously. Granted, not as many jobs, but are people making those lateral shifts as well in that tactical setting as coaches?
[00:35:13.40] To a smaller scale. And I think that's just because right now, you don't have as many schools. You don't have—you might have people that have—because now you've got people in the tactical world, and that experience is huge.
[00:35:26.12] So when a job comes open, it may be a different site or with a different group of special operations. Those people will maybe look to make some of those moves. But it's not as much, and I think because you form such a good relationship within that unit.
[00:35:41.96] And again, that's no—I'm up at 1st Group. And that's no offense to 10th Group, here in Carson. But I love my 1st Group guys. And everybody's got a little bit of a different culture and a different attitude towards things. And so to, I guess, leave that would take something very special, even to stay within the community.
[00:36:02.03] Because you do—we're very fortunate. I mean, I'm a civilian. I have no Army ties. My dad was in years ago, but it has nothing to do with me and being in the military. And so to be in this community and to be—to earn that trust and that buy-in.
[00:36:16.97] And then to see behind these closed doors—that I have not, on paper, earned the right to see—the selection processes and everything that these men have gone through to get to this level and now to be in that family is huge. And so to walk away, the personal investment, it would be tough just to move to another role.
[00:36:36.98] Sure. So what's the absolute best thing about your job then right now?
[00:36:42.17] I mean, it sounds cheesy, but it's definitely the—and it's super cliché, but the people that you work with. Because with the college athlete, there's a little bit of a disconnect as far as there is a very defined coach/athlete role. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. And that's a huge benefit as far as how training and coaching and everything can be.
[00:37:01.49] Within our role, I mean, our average guy is probably around 30 years old. And so now you have grown men that are very close to your age, that are going through a lot of different things. But they are very smart individuals. We've got a lot of guys with college degrees, educated degrees, former athletes. And they want to know why we're doing what we're doing.
[00:37:21.90] And so you need to make sure that not only are you good at what you do, but you need to then educate them to explain on what's going on. And so the relationships that you end up building with these guys in these communities, again, after you've got that buy-in and that trust, it's just a whole different animal.
[00:37:39.81] Yeah. No, that's great. And you also are credible as a—being a weightlifter yourself, you hold some street cred with these guys because they know that you trained yourself as well. Talk a little bit about what you—you compete in weightlifting?
[00:37:58.43] I do. Yeah, so I compete in weightlifting, or Olympic weightlifting, as a lot of people know it. And I got into that just from trying to learn from another coach up in the Northwest, John Thrush. John's been around for a long time. He's a senior international-level coach. He's had national champions, Olympian. I mean, just—
[00:38:16.76] And so when I had gone up there as a coach to 1st Group, we had one of our guys who started moving with the barbell one day, as far as warming up for the snatch. And I'm like, OK. Who are you, and what have you done? Because you can just tell when somebody is very proficient in weightlifting compared to, OK. They've snatched maybe before.
[00:38:36.35] And so then he informed me that John lived up there. And I've known John's name and his training and whatnot. And so I went and I wanted to learn from John as a coach. And John was just along the lines of, there's no better way for you to learn this sport or learn about the training and the programming than to do it.
[00:38:55.91] And I was very fortunate enough to be able to start to train under John. And I fell in love with the sport. I wish I would have fallen in love with it maybe 15 years earlier, opposed to being after 30 years old. But I've fallen in love with the sport, and it gives you that direction to train.
[00:39:13.28] And then on the flip side of that, with our guys, when they see that this is a huge part of your life and you're living a life that you are trying to preach to them—and that started back when I was in college and learning to train. And then under Evan and Ed and the staff at Virginia, as far as, if you're going to choose the strength coach life, you need to show that it's a lifestyle.
[00:39:33.35] You need to make sure that you sleep, you eat right, you do all the little things. Because that gives you that credibility. You can't go out and be a night owl and come in hungover, smelling of whatever, and then talk about—or get on a kid about, well, why aren't you doing the little things? Like, dude, you're hungover from the night before. Don't—get out of my face.
[00:39:52.90] And so getting into the weightlifting has been amazing. But then the guys seeing that, OK, he trains and takes it seriously. And then it kind of gives you a little bit of an additional expert knowledge type of thing. They know that, OK, that if—this is the guy to talk to about the running. Or he's really into the weightlifting or power development, whatever that may be.
[00:40:18.58] We definitely don't force weightlifting down our guys' throats. That's a whole separate conversation. But it's definitely can be a great tool, and it just shows the guys that you do care about actual physical performance and the things that go into that.
[00:40:32.25] Yeah. I love it. I always say never trust a skinny chef.
[00:40:34.94] There you go. Yeah, it's the same thing.
[00:40:37.16] It's pretty true. So someone's interested in—let's say you're in college now. And you're hearing all this stuff about tactical. Is there a recommended route that you would say, well, you should do this, this, and this? What would you recommend to somebody who's interested in being where you are someday?
[00:40:56.18] I think right now, you guys here—and not just because we're talking. But I think the NSCA has become a great contact point for that, as far as the people in the TSAC division, whether it's—Nate Palin or Matt Thompson are great people to reach out to because they know everybody in the community, and they're going to have their ear to the ground as far as what's going on.
[00:41:15.71] Or they can put people in touch with wherever they live at, as far as, this unit is here. This is who you then need to talk to. If you don't want to go that route, what's the nearest military post? And then find out what's going on there. And with a little bit of research, you'd be able to find, does this unit have something going on?
[00:41:36.80] But I think it's like anything else. You've got to get involved because this field is evolving. Before, they were pulling so much from that collegiate and professional realm. I mean, we're coming up on a decade into, now, the tactical realm.
[00:41:49.68] And I think we're going to start to see a shift to where before, to get some of these jobs, you had to have at least five years of collegiate or division 1 experience—or professional experience, excuse me. Now you're going to start to see that you're probably going to have to have a minimum of tactical experience because it is such a different world. And so the sooner people can get in and get their name just recognized. So I think here at the TSAC division, here is a great reference point for people to reach out to.
[00:42:18.57] Yeah. No, I think that's a great point. And I tell a lot of people too—like our internship program here. We have two different SWAT teams, first responders, quote unquote "regular police officers." So there are opportunities.
[00:42:33.68] I know that UCCS here, where [INAUDIBLE] is a professor at, they do research with the Fire Academy and the Police Academy. So there's places. If you're out there listening, and you're interested in getting involved in it, there's a lot of opportunities. And like Hunter says, they're growing.
[00:42:50.36] No question.
[00:42:51.51] So I think—
[00:42:52.24] It's going to blow up.
[00:42:53.36] Yeah. That's awesome. Cool, man. This has been super helpful. If people listening in want to catch up with you, what's the best way to reach out to you? You got social media you want to throw out? Are you—
[00:43:04.61] Not a ton of social media. I am on Facebook, which is easy just to find my name. Hunter Schurrer, S-C-H-U-R-R-E-R. I do have an Instagram account, but I have not been on that in over a year. That's just kind of shut down, so I wouldn't worry about that. But my personal email account—if you email me, I will get back to—which is just my first initial H, and then Schurrer, S-C-H-U-R-R-E-R, at Gmail. If people hit me up at that, then that's the easiest way to get a hold of me.
[00:43:32.31] Great. We'll make sure we put all that in the show notes, but thanks again for being on the show.
[00:43:36.57] No, thank you for having me, Scott. It's been fun, man.
[00:43:38.84] Thank you for listening to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. We truly appreciate your support, and we wouldn't be able to do this without you. So keep on listening. If you enjoyed our episodes, please go write us a review at iTunes or Google Play, wherever you download your episodes from. Also be sure to subscribe so you get these delivered to you every other week, right on time. You don't want to miss the next one. Also, you can go to nsca.com and check out the episodes there if you prefer that. And as well, check out our new website and everything that's going on.
[00:44:08.64] This was the NSCA's Coaching Podcast. The National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 by strength and conditioning coaches to share information, resources, and help advance the profession. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA is the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure and join us next time.

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Scott Caulfield directs the oversight, development and management of individual and group strength and conditioning programs for all student-athletes ...

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Hunter A. Schurrer, CSCS

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Hunter Schurrer has been a Human Performance Specialist at the 1st Special Forces Group since 2011. He has played an integral role in the training of ...

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