NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Episode 75: Brian Buck

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D and Brian Buck, CSCS
Coaching Podcast April 2020

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Brian Buck, Director of Sports at Sparta Science, talks to the NSCA Coaching Program Manager, Eric McMahon, about the new roles that data and technology are playing in the weight room. Topics under discussion include what young coaches should know getting into the field of strength and conditioning and the importance of building relationships and developing people.

Find Brian on Twitter: @brianbuck6 | Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“So what makes a good strength coach, and people touch on it a lot, is being able to have conversations with these guys. Do they care that you care? Are you a good person, and why should they listen to you?” 12:40

“So you've got to understand-- there's got to be an education piece, there's got to be a relationship piece. And at the end of the day, it's got to work. So it's a fun skill, it's a fun job, and I've really enjoyed my time in it.” 13:49

“I think where people really separate themselves from others is the resources they get their hands on to. How much they're willing to read daily, because that's not easy for everyone. How interested are you in research and books? And I think on top of that, the last piece that really sets people apart is your networking capability. And are you willing to go do a site visit?” 14:42

“Wherever your situation is, make it the best, learn from it, create the best where you are. And really, those other opportunities are going to pop up and you're not going to wear yourself out thinking about them.” 29:32

Transcript

[00:00:00.75] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast Episode 75.

[00:00:04.75] Well, it starts with relationships. Hey, we can sit here and talk about our programs all day, you know, whether it's 82% or 83% on a front squat, or it's dynamic effort or max effort. None of that really matters unless you have these relationships. What makes a strength coach, and people touch on it a lot, is being able to have conversations with these guys. Do they care that you care? Are you a good person and why should they listen to you?

[00:00:29.37] 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.

[00:00:40.35] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon taking over for Scott Caulfield, my first event as the Coaching Program Manager for the NSCA. With me today is special guest, good friend of mine, Brian Buck from Sparta Science. Brian, how are you doing?

[00:00:55.68] I'm good man. Thanks for having me. This is a legit setup here. Obviously good to see you. It's been a little bit, and I'm happy for you in the new position, and I'm excited for you. So thanks for having me.

[00:01:05.74] Yeah absolutely. Recently married. Congratulations.

[00:01:08.82] Thank you, yes. I found the love of my life and quickly. Met her a year ago got married, and did the whole thing. So I'm excited and living that life now. So thank you. I appreciate that.

[00:01:20.25] That's awesome. So I know your story pretty well, but if you would, just tell our listeners about your background in S & C, and kind of how that led you to Sparta Science, what you're doing now.

[00:01:30.51] Yeah, so you know, I've always been a guy that was into training and working out, really with no clue for most of my life at a young age, but doing it because I enjoyed it. And played sports all throughout growing up, high school and played college baseball. You know, got lucky and had an opportunity to go play professional with the St. Louis Cardinals organization for a few years. And of those few years, you know was frequently injured, which is a frustrating thing for anyone to go into and experience, is you know when you feel like you can perform, but you're hurt and you can't do so.

[00:02:06.12] So when I got done playing baseball in the minor leagues, went back to Arizona State and got my kinesiology degree there. And that's really during that time was when I had an internship there on campus in Tempe, where I really kind of learned what training is all about, and how to do it correctly. And really it blew my mind on where I was doing things so incredibly wrong my entire career. So I really fell in love with the training process. And eventually, graduated from Arizona State. And unfortunately, like most people today, didn't really have anything set up for me. There was no people calling me, hey do you want this, do you want that?

[00:02:43.32] And you know, after I got out of baseball, I really didn't want to be a part of it for a while. And I had an opportunity from my mentor to interview in Major League Baseball for a position. I interviewed and I got it. So I actually ended up falling into strength and conditioning. And I've been in that since. But kind of to answer your question of how I got to Sparta Science is eventually I was working with the Colorado Rockies. And we consulted with a new company at that time called Sparta Science. And I saw a lot of success and really became interested in the why behind everything in the data that we were seeing, and the health that we were seeing improved. And eventually left baseball. And now I'm the Director of Sports at Sparta Science.

[00:03:25.44] That's awesome.

[00:03:26.25] Yeah, so Sparta Science, and I remember when Sparta came on with the Rockies, and what that was like in the field, hearing that from a different team perspective. And what was that transition, going more than tech in sports science route, what was that like on the coaching side? Did you take to it right away? Did the people you were working with take to it right away, was there any pushback?

[00:03:51.81] That's a good question. You know, early on, I think when I first got with the Rockies and I heard that we were going to consult with Sparta Science, I was extremely excited. I didn't really know much about the process, and what it was going to entail, but I knew that we were going to be working with technology and making better decisions. Having said that, I think first, you know, not everyone adopted it, and I'm not just talking internally, as training conditioning staff, we all had to learn it and ask questions and really see it to play it out and believe in it. But we're talking about athletes that we're working with, we're talking about coaching staff.

[00:04:26.27] It didn't just-- we didn't just win people over overnight, so it was definitely a growing process of learning what it was that we wanted to collect, seeing that play out over time, and seeing things improve. And then, with that came by and, not only internally, as a training conditioning staff, but athletic training staff, sports med, athletes, and coaches along. So it was definitely something, at first, that people looked at us as a little bit crazy about, with the Rockies, and how we were changing so much. But over time, I think, as people saw, too, from the outside, is we started to see some really cool things. And now, obviously, I'm a big advocate of using data, but I think others are, as well.

[00:05:05.80] That's cool. So, on the Sparta topic, a lot of people hear Sparta and they think force plates, I think that's how it got introduced to the world. Is that what Sparta Science is? A force plate company? Or is it more than that?

[00:05:21.09] Yeah, that's a big misconception. We use the force plate as the needle to draw the blood, so to speak. It's what we use to collect the data points, kind of a gold standard of assessing the vertical jump and ground reaction force is a force plate. So we do use them, we are not a force plate company, we are not a hardware company. We are truly a software company. What we have and have established over the last decade is a deep aggregate database that we can actually provide some context to the information we're seeing, so that we can relay this to the practitioner, the everyday practitioner, will know what this actually means and what we can do to improve what we're seeing. So we're really a data company, and we're providing information to the everyday practitioner.

[00:06:06.74] So that goes hand-in-hand with, you know, there's this huge sports science technology and data push in strength and conditioning, right now, and you're speaking today at the 2020 Coaches Conference. Tell us a little bit about what you're going to talk about.

[00:06:20.70] Yeah, so Bryce Patterson, the Director of Education, and myself, we're going to touch on creating a system of intent. And really, that's-- you know, it's a kind of a gift and a curse of today, as you mentioned, with so much technology. We really can collect everything, and that doesn't really necessarily mean we should. So a lot of what we're going to talk on is what's important to measure and how can we create a framework, as coaches, to develop a program. And then really, at the end of the day, how can we go back and look at it, if it worked or not. Or if it was actually important, right? Because we have to evaluate our program, at the end day, and make tweaks and changes based on what worked and what didn't work.

[00:06:58.87] Yeah.

[00:06:58.94] Nice.

[00:07:00.18] So, one thing I've always really liked about talking to you is we'll connect on the phone and catch up, and it's like, hey, how's it going, what are you up to? And it's not like, hey, what are you up to, day to day, I'm going to work today, I'm going to the field, going to the job. It's like, no, what are you doing to get better? What are you working on personally in your life, putting yourself out there, communicating, going to conferences, what are you learning right now? And that's something I've always valued, talking to you. What does that mean to you?

[00:07:30.14] No, likewise. And that's something that you come across a lot of people in this field, and especially coming from baseball, as you and I did, it's a small fraternity of people. You kind of run into the same people over and over, and that doesn't necessarily mean you keep communication with a lot of people. So, when you find this common denominator in another individual, that you kind of see in yourself, of always trying to learn a little bit, trying to pick each other's brains, there's a mutual respect that we find with certain people, and that's what you and I, certainly, have found over the years. It's like, you know, we're both in the trenches, fighting the same fights.

[00:08:01.32] Regardless if you think your organization is different than mine, chances are, we're fighting the same battles and we have the same struggles. So being able to communicate openly and talk and learn from each other is something that I highly respect out of a lot of people, but especially yourself, and you know, you've been going around and talking about VBT, you're talking at this conference about upper extremity training and, particularly in baseball, where that's kind of frowned upon, right? So you know, I love coming across people there are always digging deep to learn a little bit more and really, being vulnerable enough to share that with others, to actually get feedback and learn from them, as well.

[00:08:37.40] It's cool, yeah. So, for our listeners, I met Brian back in 2012, 2013 range. He was the strength and conditioning coach for the Tulsa Drillers, the AA team with the Rockies, and I was with the Frisco Rough Riders, with the Texas Rangers organization. And in the minor leagues, dealing with that Texas heat, you obviously played professionally, any fun baseball stories you'd want to share with our listeners?

[00:09:05.79] Oh, man. So, we go back, I think, when you used to meet up, we'd come play the Rough Riders, it was Rough Riders, right?

[00:09:12.81] Yeah.

[00:09:13.11] It was Rough Riders. You know, we'd come out here to the Dallas area, I remember thinking there was no hotter place on earth than outside Dallas. I remember, because it just-- because our part of the league would only come down to the southern part of the league, what, twice a year? Whatever it was. And every time we were there, I swear, it was just ridiculously hot, to where we just couldn't even do a pregame. But you know, I look back at those days in the Texas league with some of my most fun experiences. I think that league, in general, as far as the quality of baseball that's being played, the quality of the fan base at each place you go, is, I don't know, the best that I was ever in, in the minor leagues, I would say.

[00:09:54.90] So I look back at those, and I cherish those days. And I remember those days at your park, I remember one day, It was so hot, I let the boys go hop in the lazy river that was in the outfield. I'm like, we're all going swimming. And this is even pre-game, because it was like, this is a mandatory cool down. But you know, outside of that, baseball stories, you know, it can be such a grind, day to day, doing the same things. I think it gets so monotonous that you really need, whether it's a coach or an athlete, you need that individual that's going to make things loose, that's going to keep things loose and that has a good sense of humor, because sometimes, we're just too serious day to day.

[00:10:31.02] You can't grind the season like that, as you know. And so, some funny stories, I can think about on top my head, I remember to this day, like one of my favorite guys on the planet, and especially that I've worked with in baseball, John Axford, a big league pitcher when I was in with the Rockies. I remember we were playing the Nationals in DC, it's hot, we're all grinding, it's late summer. And we get a late inning when-- push back, and we end up winning. And I run up to the weight room to train afterwards, and he's doing squats in a jockstrap, only, and he's just blasting, you know, Rush or whatever it was at the time. Everybody's like, you know what, this is the stuff we need more of.

[00:11:13.65] We had another guy, I refer back to, like, Tulsa time. This guy named Craig Sitton. You know, a heck of a pitcher, actually from Oregon State. I didn't have a wardrobe rule in the weight room, and he really screwed me on that, because I didn't have set rules. So he'd come in in some weird outfits from time to time and have me film him doing something that he could show-- it was just, it's the little things like that. Like, if you come in and perform, I don't care. But if you're going to wear that, like, everyone's going to laugh. But I just look back at those times and really do miss the people that really kept things loose and kept it fun, when we oftentimes kind of forget that.

[00:11:51.60] Absolutely.

[00:11:52.35] Yeah.

[00:11:52.86] Absolutely. I remember having to police the wardrobe policy when we're going out to the public gyms, on the road.

[00:11:58.04] Yes, yes, yes.

[00:11:58.83] When you do a-- the minor leagues has come a long way, where now there's actually training facilities in a lot of the stadiums, now, so it's a lot better than it used to be.

[00:12:07.50] It is better now, yeah. Everything is getting a little bit better, all around.

[00:12:11.01] So getting into your philosophy on what makes the strength and conditioning coach successful. What do you think that is?

[00:12:21.00] Well, first off, it's putting together-- well, it starts with relationships. We can sit here and talk about our programs all day, whether it's 82% or 83% on a front squat, or is dynamic effort or max effort, none of that really matters unless you have these relationships. So what makes a good strength coach, and people touch on it a lot, is being able to have conversations with these guys. Do they care that you care? Are you a good person, and why should they listen to you? So that's really where it starts.

[00:12:50.52] You can get into the programming all day, and we all like to go blue in the face talking programming, and that's fun, and that's a lot of things we're obsessed with, but what makes a good coach is having those relationships. And then putting together a good program. And then, hey, let's celebrate the small wins when we get them. When we're working on a specific quality, let's celebrate a little bit when we get there. And I think athletes and individuals see that and they want to put in the effort, they want to put in the work, and that kind of just goes full circle, over and over.

[00:13:17.52] Absolutely. Tons of non weight room skills.

[00:13:20.31] Totally, yeah.

[00:13:20.65] That come into this job.

[00:13:21.69] Yeah, it's not just a program that we write and we don't interact. Like, hey-- and really, what you learn, too, and I know that you know this, especially working at the big league level, you have to sell your program on a daily basis. Why should they do this? Do they understand the "why" behind it? Are they educated on why you're doing it, and do they like you or care about you enough to actually listen to you? Because at the end of the day, we're all people. If I don't like you, I don't really care. I don't want to do what you want me to do.

[00:13:49.12] So you've got to understand-- there's got to be an education piece, there's got to be a relationship piece. And at the end of the day, it's got to work. So it's a fun skill, it's a fun job, and I've really enjoyed my time in it.

[00:14:02.65] That's awesome. So taking that, what's the pathway to get there? What advice do you have for young strength coaches getting into the field? Obviously, there's a lot of X's and O's to what we do, and you need to have the chops in the field to know the exercises and know the periodization. But you're talking a little bit deeper than that. What's the pathway to get there for young coaches?

[00:14:25.87] Yeah, I think I'm really drawing from my own experience, you learn a lot in school, you can go through all the A and P and really learn through the textbook, that's good to have that base understanding. I didn't really start learning until I was actually doing my internship and hands-on. But really, that was just the tip of the iceberg. I think where people really separate themselves from others is the resources they get their hands on to. How much they're willing to read daily, because that's not easy for everyone. How interested are you in research and books? And I think on top of that, the last piece that really sets people apart is your networking capability. And are you willing to go do a site visit?

[00:15:06.88] I think I look back and, you know, I was a young kid out of college, I did site visits whenever I could. I remember, even being in the Texas league, I'd go to universities in the area-- University of Tulsa, and some others-- and just talk shop with people that I respected because of their position. So I think young kids that are trying to get into it, that want to have success, education is priority. But then also, going and learning on site and be willing to do things for nothing or next to nothing to get that experience.

[00:15:36.83] Yeah, for sure. Getting in the door, getting your eyes-- meeting coaches, getting that feedback.

[00:15:43.27] Yeah, yeah.

[00:15:43.87] That's so important in our field.

[00:15:45.01] And ask questions. There's not a stupid question. I know people say that, and we always-- none of us want to raise our hands or none of us want to sound stupid, but just ask questions. I think any coach, including yourself or anyone, when someone asks a question, you really want to give them an answer, the real answer. There is no stupid question. So just be willing to kind of look stupid in the moment, but I think it's going to benefit you, long term.

[00:16:07.99] Yeah. So, you talk about reading. What books, resources have helped you over the years?

[00:16:14.43] Oh. Gosh. You know, I think I started with Boyle, back in the day. I think I started with the legend, Mike Boyle, really learning. And one thing I remember about his book, that really set it off, and this was-- I can't remember which one.

[00:16:33.35] Functional Training for Sport?

[00:16:34.48] Yeah.

[00:16:34.83] Yeah.

[00:16:35.38] It had case like case studies in there. And would be like, this person has this going on, here's what we would think, or here's how our thought process would work, and then here's what we end up finding. And I remember some things like that in there really got my mind turning and like, ah, that makes sense or that makes sense. But Boyle was really where I started, I'd say. Then I really got into looking at a lot of the West Side stuff, how did guys get brutally strong, and kind of learning some of those principles. Science and Practice of Strength Training was one that I remember really stuck out, as far as learning the programming piece and understanding a lot of the science, obviously, Super Training. I can't say that's a read, that's a reference. I think it's good to have some things highlighted in there.

[00:17:22.01] So those were definitely some resources. I became slightly obsessed with just reading and reading and reading and kind of putting my notes together. But there are some good blogs out there, too. And now, more so than ever, there's podcasts that you can really listen or search coaches that you're really into or dig their philosophy and really hear them talk about training. So, we're at no limitation on resources to look into. I think it's really just finding what we really feel we need to improve on and searching that out.

[00:17:51.52] Absolutely. And so, we're sitting here in the exhibit hall at the 2020 NSCA Coaches Conference, and I think you say, there's no limitation on resources, there's such a huge technology push now, and you see it when you walk around the exhibit hall. And I know, being with Sparta, you guys are right in line with that. So the question I have for you is, how is technology changing the weight room? I think we were coming from a very analog weight room world, and it's going a lot more digital. And to me, it's changing the coaching process. And it's changing what the coach is becoming and what the coach needs to do.

[00:18:35.23] Yeah.

[00:18:36.01] On a daily basis.

[00:18:36.97] Yeah.

[00:18:37.30] Or just to implement the program.

[00:18:39.85] Yeah.

[00:18:39.97] What are your thoughts on that?

[00:18:40.97] Well, I think it's good. I think if it's not overly too much data pieces, I think it's good. Having said that, technology in the weight room is huge, it can be great biofeedback. You've spoken on VBT, a lot of it's like, hey, when do we need to shut down a session or when are we actually still getting something out of this? By looking at bar speed and other things, I think. It's also, what is our program designed to do? Are we trying to improve strength, speed, power, whatever it may be? You're getting feedback on that almost immediately, and in real time, a lot of times, by using technology.

[00:19:15.19] So the value of tech is getting feedback quicker than having to wait and look at these other lagging indicators. So really being able to not only monitor workloads in real time, but also look at our program, week to week, electronically, a lot of times, is where are these improvements coming and where are they not coming and where do I need to tweak things? So technology, as long as it's not overwhelming and changing too much, we can really use it to evaluate our program on a day to day basis.

[00:19:46.24] Absolutely.

[00:19:46.84] Yeah.

[00:19:48.97] One thing with tech is the implementation aspect is an interesting conversation, because when you implement a new piece of technology to a program, it changes every aspect of your weight room session, from how the players show up, or how the athletes show up for the session, how they record, document their information. How they're communicating with their coach. How the coach is communicating with them. That implementation process, when you guys are doing that with the Sparta technology, how do you approach that with a new organization that's just getting on board and can't just go all in right away?

[00:20:30.97] Well, first off, I think that the cardinal rule of technology is like, if it doesn't make your life easier, what are you doing? You're wrong. Right away. If you're spending more time looking at numbers or behind a computer, you're doing it wrong. So it's got to be practical, it's got to be easy to apply, and it's got to be seamless. Having said that, you kind of talk about how it's changing and it's all tech, now, I think I can go back to my experience with the Rockies. You know, we went from the training card to having your workout or template on your phone. And you know how a lot of people, even today, will still have no phones and in the weight room rule, we actually had rules where we're like, if the athlete showed up to the weight room without their phone, I said go get your phone. Because I think, again, what do people always have today? What are we all obsessed with and on all the time? And if I can have your information on there, you're always able to access it and really, it's not a crazy thing to think of now, bringing your phone with you, because that's where your vitals are, that's where your workout is, whatnot.

[00:21:35.44] So tech has definitely changed the view, for better or worse, depending on what camp you're in. You know, more old school or more progressive with it. It's changed how we operate, but really, at the end of the day, if it's not making things quicker or easier, you're doing it wrong.

[00:21:51.57] Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think one of the fears is that this new technology essentially replaces or does the job of the coach. And I think there's a little bit of fear in the professional ranks that by adding the tech that, you know, what am I going to do? What am I going to do, what am I going to be doing as a strength coach if I'm just running the program off the app or the website?

[00:22:17.11] Yeah.

[00:22:17.98] But what you're saying, it's more the interaction, the interaction of the tech with the athlete, with the coach. That's really where what's important.

[00:22:27.64] No, totally. And it's not-- there shouldn't be a fear. You'll never be replaced, your expertise is not going to be replaced. It should be your interest in validating your program. I think, I want to validate what I'm doing and what I'm spending time on, because a lot of times, it's a thankless gig. We do what we do, we might know we're doing well, but how can we validate it and improve our process? And shoot, at the end of the day, we want to validate to our superiors that we're doing the job we said we were going to do. And I think you use tech to do that, to elevate ourselves, not a fear of what can replace us. Really, I think people should own it and use it to their advantage more often.

[00:23:07.03] Do you see a limit to how much tech we can employ in the weight room?

[00:23:11.44] Yeah, I think obviously, there is a limit. Again, if it's speeding up the process and things are quick, there's no limit. I mean, if you want to do things intra training and test a certain biofeedback intra training, that's fine. But if it slows things down or puts us to a halt in any sense, then you maybe should take a step back and say, let's do a little less. Let's do a little bit less, but let's do it a lot better. Or let's do a little bit less, but let's collect it a lot more frequently. So I think-- we've talked about this before, at Sparta, we want to collect-- we really want to collect depth on a few things, we want to collect them a lot to understand them well, as opposed to collecting width of everything under the sun, but not doing it as much. Because then we can this be paralyzed by all this information. I don't know what means what. But if I collect a few things and collect them a lot, I got a pretty good idea of how my programming is influencing those variables.

[00:24:04.18] Nice. So, just catching everybody up, we have Brian Buck from Sparta Science on the air, here at the NSCA 2020 Coaches Conference, talking about the role of technology in the coaching process. For you, what is the future of strength and conditioning look like, the next five, 10 years, if you were to-- the way you see this profession going with the amount of growth that we've had recently, I feel like on the tech side, in the sports science integration that's going on, where do you see it going?

[00:24:39.28] I mean, it's going to keep trending in a positive light. I mean, look, we're on ESPN now, they're doing specials, you know, the Boyd Epley, The History of Strength and Conditioning, how it all started, everything that happened at Nebraska, if I'm correct, there. And you look at now, we're starting to talk salaries, now salaries are getting brought up in the news, like, hey, a strength coach is making, you know, 3/4 mil, almost, now, and whatnot. And it's like, us in the industry, we're kind of going, well, yeah, we should be. I mean, we feel this is deserved. But it's now-- you know, it's not just the financial piece of it, but we're starting to get that recognition that we really feel that we deserve and with the amount we're alongside the athlete, the amount of care that we put into them, all those things are important. And now, you're starting to see these head football coaches and these other head coaches, they're going out and specifically handpicking that individual to deal with their athletes. That's how important they feel it is.

[00:25:36.30] And that's not going to go anywhere. I think it's only going to continue to become more and more important. And then, again, with the value of technology, we're going to begin to validate our job more and more and really going to see who's doing a really good job with what they have and the resources that they have. And again, not everyone is going to just be overwhelmed by technology, because we don't all have the resources. We might just have a jump mat. We might just have a VerTec, we might have nothing, right? So not everyone has access that professional athletes have. But in my opinion, it's only trending in a positive light, and it's going to continue to get better, and there's going to be more recognition and there's going to continue to grow, as an industry.

[00:26:18.03] Nice.

[00:26:19.19] So, you're talking about the career development side of strength and conditioning. And that's something we don't always talk about. I think we-- I know on the front end, we think about, oh, I want to work with athletes. I want to get guys strong, I want to make people better at their sport. And that tends to be what we focus on, and we get the book smarts and we learn what's in the essentials texts. And we take it further, but from a life standpoint, you've recently married, you transition from athlete to coach, now to the private sector. Talk about the strength and conditioning career path, so to speak, and just what's been your approach to navigating this profession?

[00:27:08.66] You know, it goes a lot of ways. The thing that's unfortunate, and again, I work in the private industry, so I'm not in it like everyone else is. But the one thing I see is a ton of turnover at the college level and at the pro level a lot, too. And I feel like that's a huge fears is that that's going to continue to happen. And I hope that it doesn't continue to trend like it is. I think it's tough. I think if you're a young person, and you're in the industry, and you're trying to have a professional life outside of strength and conditioning , there is a good opportunity, or a good chance, that you might have to move in the next couple of years. So how rooted can we get in our community, how rooted can we get in building these young men and women that we want to be good people, with the fear of well, I might have to go somewhere else soon?

[00:27:59.63] Then again, I'm not someone that's had to face that, so I can't speak on that behalf of, you know, I've been the person that's been fired multiple times. But we see it happen all the time. There's a lot of turnover. But I really value these organizations and these universities that preach building good people over just good athletes. Yeah, we're here to do that because that's our expertise and that's what we love to do, but at the end of day, you're building you're a young man or a young woman, you're instilling some good characteristics, some quality things that-- they're around you more than their parents. What can we leave them with and what can we teach them, and all that stuff?

[00:28:40.07] It's more important as I get older, I look at that more and more. But I really value coaches that really talk about that, and that's a big part of the recruiting process at a lot of places, now, too, is like, you're going to leave an adult, you're going to leave a professional adult, not just an athlete. So you know, that's a cool piece of what we do.

[00:28:56.63] That's awesome. So for you, what's been the biggest challenge you've faced in this field?

[00:29:03.05] The challenge is not making it the best where you're at. The challenge is like always thinking you need to be somewhere else, or you want that gig, or you feel that you should be above this person. Don't get lost in those wars. Those are wars you'll never win, and you'll drive yourself crazy thinking about why you're not in specific places. And we've heard it said before, be the best where you are, well, that is really the truth, spot on. Wherever your situation is, make it the best, learn from it, create the best where you are. And really, those other opportunities are going to pop up and you're not going to wear yourself out thinking about them.

[00:29:41.93] That's great advice. Yeah, I heard someone say, big time's where you're at.

[00:29:46.73] Yeah.

[00:29:47.38] And use that, you know, make what you're doing, where you're at, the most important thing. And I think that was really powerful for me when I heard it. But yeah, I really like talking about the career aspects of strength and conditioning. I know for me, personally, it was-- I was a little bit fearful of this profession. On the front end of, OK, I know what my college football coaches went through on a daily basis, and a lot of them were young GAs, but I knew that, man, like how would this be a sustainable profession with a family? And just looking at life goals. And it's really kind of a leap of faith, almost. It's like we put our trust in the NSCA, we put our trust in the CSCS, in that it's going to be the vehicle that helps you in your career to develop as a professional and take you on this journey through your life. And I think one area I'm passionate about, and I know you are, too, just from our conversations, is just improving the career path and improving the life skills portion of this job. And I really liked what you said there, about-- it really does mean a lot to me, and I know we talk about it a lot.

[00:31:15.56] Yeah, and I think how can you improve quality of life? And it's the little things. I mean, we grind, and we've done spring training, we've been in the weight room from 5:00 to 5:00. We've done that. That's not a brag or anything like that, we all do that in this field. But I think when you can start to look at, I'm not trying to be this hero or brag about how many hours I put in, when you start to step back and, as a leader in the organization that you're in, start to talk about quality of life. And maybe you're pushing guys out a few hours early each day, and you're going to handle that load and give guys more of that personal time away, more family time, little things, those little things go so far. Whether you're in collegiate strength conditioning or pro strength and conditioning, I think it's important to take a step back and say, what's outside of this bubble that we're constantly obsessed with except training and this process? What about our families, what about people we care about? What about small vacations?

[00:32:13.46] Those things are important. And a lot of times, in this field, we kind of just grind, grind, grind, because that's what we know. Shoot, spring training, as you know, what is it, like, you have x amount of days where you don't have a day off? And you just go, and you just go, go, go. And you know, college strength and conditioning is tough, too. Those are long hours, those are long days. And sometimes, we kind of wear it as a badge of honor of like, well, I put this many hours in. But the one person that steps in and say, I know this is the norm, but actually, you're going to have today off, or you're going to leave a couple hours early, those little things make a huge difference in the lives of strength coaches and people that you may oversee, or someone that oversees you.

[00:32:52.52] And I remember having that brought upon me. I remember thinking, man, this is huge. I could actually have a life outside of all this. And so it's important. Those little things, I think, are good to talk about, because they're not often talked about. I kind of think it's looked at as weakness, at times, to do less. But really, it's like a more fulfilling lifestyle, and now we can do it for a lot longer.

[00:33:12.41] Well, and it gives you perspective and context for what we do in the profession. I think it makes you a lot more well-rounded when you're a complete person, when you have more to offer than just sets and reps. And it goes back to what you're saying about, you know, relationships and getting to know people. But it's like, where's your context for that come from? Do you know?

[00:33:36.59] Well, like what's the difference between Brian Buck with four hours of sleep and Brian Buck with eight hours of sleep? You don't want to talk-- the guy with only four hours is not a good person. And that reflects, not only to your athletes, but your at-home life. What are you going to be like when you get home with a wife? How are you going to be around your kids or your relatives? It's all connected. So I think the more we can understand our health and wellness, our selves, the better people we can be, the better coaches we can be, and the better we can make this industry, as a whole.

[00:34:11.31] That's awesome. That's awesome. Where can people connect with you? I know you do the Sparta Science blog, is that something you spend a lot of time on?

[00:34:26.92] Yeah. So, I've written the blog, a handful bit. You know, Bryce Patterson has, Phil Wagner has, obviously, our CEO. We kind of share responsibilities on that. I think it's a great blog, not any of mine, that I wrote, but most of the other ones that have been written are pretty good. But they're short little one-pagers that you can actually take something with. But as far as connecting, I try and stay somewhat active on Twitter. I'm probably way more of a reader, and like looking at other people's content than I actually am putting out my own stuff. And actually, that's like a goal I have for myself this year, is to actually put out more content or deliver more of my thoughts.

[00:35:12.73] Not for anyone else, but really, to kind of put them out there and again, trying to have some vulnerability and learn from others and to share my experiences and whatnot. So yeah, @brianbuck6, on Twitter, is a place that you can reach me. And then just brian@spartascience. I'm always open to chatting with coaches and e-mailing back and forth, talking shop, talking life. I think that's one big piece that I do really kind of miss, from being in the trenches and coaching on a daily basis, is the interaction of this training program or this program or this quality or this sets and reps. So being on the different side of it now, I definitely miss more of those intimate conversations. So I'm always one that enjoys when you call me or when others call me to catch up and talk shop. So I'm definitely easy to get a hold of.

[00:36:04.69] That's awesome. So, that is Brian Buck from Sparta Science. Thanks for being on the podcast.

[00:36:09.96] Man, thanks for having me. This has been a good time. Like I said, man, this is official. Your face is up on the wall, here.

[00:36:15.34] Yeah.

[00:36:15.62] It looks really realistic.

[00:36:16.56] We posted my face over Scott Caulfield's face on the backdrop, here, at the conference, just to make sure we send that out to him on social media, here.

[00:36:27.61] Yeah, but again, Eric, I appreciate you having me, and you know, we've known each other for a while and it's fun to watch each other's paths develop over the years. So I appreciate you having me on here.

[00:36:35.95] Absolutely, man.

[00:36:36.96] Yeah.

[00:36:37.81] Big thanks to our sponsor, Sorinex exercise equipment. We appreciate all their support in making this podcast possible. Do you know of an outstanding strength and conditioning coach who deserves recognition for their hard work? Nominations are now open for the NSCA Professional College and Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year Awards. To nominate a colleague or mentor, go to nsca.com/membership/awards.

[00:37:00.76] 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 to join us next time.

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.

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Eric L. McMahon, MEd, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D

Strength & Conditioning Coach, NSCA Headquarters, Colorado Springs, CO, United States

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Eric McMahon is the Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager at the NSCA Headquarters in Colorado Springs. He joined the NSCA Staff in 2020 with ove ...

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Brian Buck, CSCS, RSCC

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The Portland, OR native has been with Sparta Science since 2017. Before coming to Sparta Science, Brian was the S&C Coordinator for the Colorado Rocki ...

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