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Notice: The NSCA website is scheduled to undergo system maintenance from 12:00 AM - 2:30 AM EST. During this time, there may be short service interruptions across the site and some parts of the site may not be accessible. We apologize for any inconvenience while we work to improve the website experience and security.

NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Episode 77: Adam Ross

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D and Adam Ross, EdD, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, RSCC
Coaching Podcast May 2020


Adam Ross, Chair of and an Assistant Professor within the Kinesiology Department at Dallas Baptist University, talks to the NSCA Coaching Program Manager, Eric McMahon, about his unique dual role of strength coach and professor at the university. Topics under discussion include the NSCA Special Interest Groups (SIGs), building trust with athletes and students, and how his mentors and children have shaped his perspective of the field.

Find Adam on Facebook: NSCA Baseball SIG or via Email:| Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“But in order to create a desire within that person, I think you just have to give them a little bit of the opportunity to just be themselves and to figure things out a little bit on their own, while being kind of a supporting structure around them. So giving them that autonomy to do it, not just being a suffocating autocrat and someone that just kind of strangles the passion out of them.” 13:43

“…the movement capacities of athletes kind of predict the performance a lot more than the strength. And I'd say the resiliency and the ability to resist injury is along those lines too.” 17:37

“And I think there is a blend between leadership, coaching, and emotional intelligence that has, at the center of it, just transformation of an athlete.” 29:00

“You show them your leadership skills, not by what you say, but by what you do, right, and how you engage with them, and how you develop them. And intertwined with that is the coaching aspect, to where you're bringing about awareness and then what they need to do to be a better human, to be a better athlete.” 29:12


[00:00:00.84] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, Episode 77.

[00:00:05.37] Coaching, what makes a good coach? There's kind of this blend between leadership, coaching, and emotional intelligence that has, at the center of it, just transformation of the athlete.

[00:00:17.14] 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.

[00:00:27.57] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. Today our guest is Dr. Adam Ross, Chair of the Kinesiology Department and strength and conditioning coach for baseball at Dallas Baptist University. Adam, you are also the chair of our NSCA baseball special interest group. Welcome to the podcast, man.

[00:00:45.28] Thanks, Eric, for having me. Should be a great time, discussing a lot of pertinent things and some current events, too.

[00:00:53.43] Awesome, yeah, so we have a phrase around the NSCA headquarters, the great ones adjust, as it relates to the dynamic roles of strength coaches in the field. But with the current state of things around COVID-19, we've all had to adjust our lifestyle quite a bit. For our listeners, this is the first podcast episode recorded on video. But I will say, like many of you, we have had a lot of practice lately on video meetings, webinars. Adam, for you, how has it been finishing up the semester remotely?

[00:01:29.20] Yeah, in a institution of higher education, I think there's a big dependency on good leadership in times like this. And I think that really came through to us in the weeks leading up to what eventually-- where we got sent home into remote work, where, you know, our president kind of had us ready for this and had a task force ready kind of building the faculty's ability to deploy some online learning and to go through all the steps necessary in order to continue what we needed to do to put out the product needed to. So good leadership kind of put us in the position and not be too fazed by it.

[00:02:09.40] But it is different. And like you, said in the field of strength conditioning and athletic performance, we're tested a lot on our adaptability and our fluidity to respond to the different circumstances. But this has been not too hard for me. I think being a faculty member that's probably a little on the younger side, I have a little bit of maybe a better ability to utilize technology than some of the ones that aren't as good at it. But I think it's gone pretty much off without a hitch just trying to keep in contact with the students and give them good content.

[00:02:49.35] Yeah, yeah, I mean, it's a really challenging time for everybody. But I've been really encouraged by the call to action in our field-- in the strength the conditioning community. I mean, there's been so many webinars, home workouts, virtual events, fundraising efforts related to COVID-19. And I think there still are a lot of unknowns as to the long term effects on our athletes, families, athletic programs.

[00:03:18.16] But I'm really proud to see the way the coaches in our community have stepped up at a time when we're being tested. And I think that really says a lot about who we are in this field and what we care about. So to jump right in with you, man, off the air, we were talking, and you mentioned that you have a dual role as a professor and a coach. How is your role at DBU been different than the typical academic or coaching role?

[00:03:50.95] Yeah, it is a really unique role and one that I've even kind of morphed into. Technically, now, I'm a full time faculty member. But in 2016, when I started my doctorate and started kind of pursuing more of the faculty side of things in academics, I still had the urge to stay in athletic performance and requested that if I were to shift over to full time faculty, that I still kept my responsibility with the baseball team as that was the second half of my passion.

[00:04:24.79] As you were mentioning, strength coaches stepping up in this time, I think it kind of speaks to the nature of the profession, in general, in that it's kind of a perfection marked by service. So like shifting from the weight room to the classroom, it was just kind of the same role in two different environments. I saw myself still as a coach in the classroom too it's just kind of a different context. But since 2016, I've been more into the classroom as my role continues to change more towards the academic side. And because of that, I've been able to get some good guys that worked with me in the baseball team and taken some of that responsibility in the day-to-day application of things.

[00:05:09.49] And now I'm just kind of serving more as a sounding board and kind of a almost more of a consultant at this point where spending a lot of my time now just in the of the development of the student and those that want to pursue strength and conditioning as a career, those that are working towards physical therapy, eventually occupational therapy, athletic training. And those are the ones that are kind of coming through the major where I'm serving right now.

[00:05:35.05] That's great. You know, it sounds like this multi -role gives you a unique leadership opportunity. And you extend that to work against the chair of our baseball special interest group with the NSCA. You know, the SIG groups have been on the podcast the last few episodes. Antonio Squillante, the chair of the weightlifting SIG was on a couple episodes back with Scott Caulfield. Talk about the SIG, or special interest group, for listeners that aren't aware of that term and the opportunities it presents for growth in our field.

[00:06:11.31] Yeah, I think being a part of something, you know, it means a lot more, I think, as you develop that network. And this is one of those ways to develop your network without having to travel across the world to meet all of these different coaches and to be exposed all these different things. So having that SIG group where you can, simply with a copy, paste, and a click, kind of shoot information across a platform to different coaches, and connect with people that you wouldn't normally do that with, and have some good, professional conversations surrounding it. And I think it's a great opportunity to continue your development. And that's kind of what we're tasked with is not to stay stale.

[00:06:58.81] I was told this one time, that we want to be a babbling brook, not a stagnant pool. So I think that's kind of one way to do that is to just stay engaged. And specifically in baseball, it's something that continues to take off, you know, a bunch of private facilities that are doing a bunch of cool things and that don't necessarily have the same platform as a lot of those people that are in collegiate athletics and professional baseball to shoot out their idea. And I think this is a really unique way for us all to get together in the same place and do that.

[00:07:39.17] Yeah, so one of my highlights at the 2020 Coaches Conference in San Antonio was the Baseball Roundtable. You did a really great job pulling that together and kind of framing the questions and the topics in a way that created a lot of discussion. And I'd say there was probably 30, 40 coaches in the room, ranging from MLB coaches with 20, 30 years of experience all the way down to young coaches just getting in the field. And I just thought that was a really cool way to kind of bring great conversation to a specific topic and area of interest.

[00:08:17.40] And that's really what the SIG groups are all about. We actually have 21 different special interest groups with the NSCA. So if you're interested in a specific area of the field, to our listeners, that is a untapped resource by many. And I think it's something that if you have interest about that, please reach out to our staff. And we will get you plugged in. Adam, what led you towards baseball? I know you've worked with a number of sports at this point. But baseball seems kind of to be the theme for you.

[00:08:48.69] Yeah, I actually was a collegiate baseball player. I played baseball at the University of Southern Maine. I'm originally from the Northeast. And not a lot of guys go from the Northeast-- unless you are a superstar-- down to these big baseball programs in the south. So I played Division III college baseball and was a high school athlete that didn't have much anything but love baseball, and had some ability to pitch-- just wasn't a superstar-- and kind of led me down that path, once I got to college, to pursue how to get better.

[00:09:23.85] I didn't have a strength coach in high school. I didn't have a strength coach in college. So I just taught myself. And by the time I was a junior, in my third year at Southern Maine, I was actually running strength conditioning for my team. So it's kind of how I got into it and just saw my change in myself and my performance. And ultimately, I knew that in order to wake up and go to work every day with a smile on my face, I just wanted to do something that I knew I was passionate about. So kind of merging those passions together in baseball and strength conditioning is something I just want to pursue as long as I could.

[00:10:02.89] Nice, so you played college baseball. And that fueled your interest getting into the field. Kind of take us back through your progression to where you're at now at DBU.

[00:10:14.64] Yeah, I think for a lot of us, it all starts with mentors and these people in our life that have an impact to solidify us in what we think we can do, to tell us that we can do more than we think we can, to kind of just be that encouragement in a time when we're still questioning things. And in my undergrad experience, I just had one professor who was our athletic trainer. And I was pursuing my bachelors degree in sports medicine.

[00:10:45.05] He was just someone that was super encouraging. He had worked in professional baseball at one point. And he kind of helped in my development, physically, to the point where I spent so much time in the training room my first couple of years, that he kind of led me out of it to the point where I had some success because of physical development. So having that person to speak in my life early in my career, Vick Liberi is his name. He's at Adrian College now in Michigan. But having a person like that kind of started me down that path.

[00:11:16.22] And then, you know, achieving some success kind of solidified what I knew it could do for me. And then started pursuing it even more once I left college, did an undergrad internship experience with Mike Boyle. At the time, it was in Winchester, Massachusetts. And I spent some time with him and was lucky enough to get a graduate teaching assistantship at Baylor University just six months after I had that internship with Coach Boyle. So I'd say it had something to do with me, but it didn't. You know, it was just, I think, God put me in the right time and place and the right people in my life to support me in what I was trying to do. And the ball kept rolling once I got to that next spot.

[00:12:06.90] Yeah, so I think it's really great on the podcast when you get to get a chance to tell your story, and it brings you back to a mentor or someone that had a huge impact on you. And now you're in a situation or a place where you are essentially passing on a program as your role is transitioning at DBU. And so now you're in that mentorship role. And people kind of look at you that way. What are your thoughts on leadership of a staff, and what's important, and how to really instill the values that you've learned throughout your career?

[00:12:50.20] Yeah, I think I started thinking about this the most when I was going through my dissertation. And I was studying leadership and leadership's impact on people that you're in a position over. And I was starting to do my research leadership and its effects on self-determination in athletes. But I think of it now in terms of just leadership and the self-determination of anyone that you are kind of in a leadership role over.

[00:13:20.07] So in that, I think about how you create a self-determined athlete is you have to create kind of an intrinsic drive within that person to want to do it. And a lot of people think that they want to pursue being a strength conditioning coach in all these settings, collegiate athletics, professional sport, until you get there. And then you know that things can change every day. But in order to create a desire within that person, I think you just have to give them a little bit of the opportunity to just be themselves and to figure things out a little bit on their own, while being kind of a supporting structure around them. So giving them that autonomy to do it, not just being a suffocating autocrat and someone that just kind of strangles the passion out of them.

[00:14:06.57] And two people that I had that worked with me, really the last three or four years at Dallas Baptist-- Dennis Wilson, who's now at Florida Atlantic, and Alex Spencer, who's kind of taken over for me at DBU in the past semester or two-- both of them came in with a great desire to be a great coach and it didn't necessarily, at that time, look like being a great coach for a baseball team. It just meant being a great coach. And their desire to be a part of something that was a successful program, [INAUDIBLE] DBU baseball is a really successful program. And they showed me the desire. They had the smarts to do it.

[00:14:48.34] Alex Spencer and I come from one of the same mentors, Charlie Milton at Baylor. So we had a really similar training background and kind of the same mentorship experience. So programming, we're really similar. And our personalities are really similar. So it's just been a really easy thing to kind of give him the reins. And Dennis Wilson, that was with us as a GA for a while, same was true with him you. It's finding people that you're able to quickly let them go without a lot of oversight. I think it's really unique to be able to do that. I think you really got to search for the right person. But I've been blessed to have a couple here that really made my job easy as a strength conditioning coach and really impacted our athletes in a big way.

[00:15:35.70] Yeah, so you started your career as an intern with Mike Boyle. And that was around the time of functional training for sport, when that was introduced to the field. And I know that had a huge impact on a lot of strength coaches. You've since worked with baseball players, golfers at FSU. And you mentioned basketball. I believe you worked with volleyball, as well, at Baylor. And talk about how you've experienced the evolution of training through your career, especially related to what you could call these like long-lever or rotational-focused sports, which are a hot topic right now.

[00:16:16.69] Yeah, I think, again, the people I've worked under, it's kind of that saying, you are kind of the product of the five people you spend the most time with. I would say the same thing is kind of what those coaching-- kind of the coaching tree you come from too, in that you take these bits and pieces of what you learn from them. And that's kind of who you are. And that's kind of what developed me a little bit to be who I am as a coach and understanding-- starting with Mike Boyle.

[00:16:44.06] It's one of those things where he's always kind of been a guy that challenges the norms, challenges almost the purest thinking and just says, explain it to me, why do you believe that, and is someone that did that to me as an intern. And it was a really impactful time for me when, at that point, it to me it's just all about strength, right? And I think that's kind of my view on athletic performance now. That's changed so much as we used to think things are all about strength, but then when you think about it as an athletic performance coach, and the terminology is kind of shifted, right? Like, you think about, how do I build a better athlete, not just how do I build a stronger athlete, right?

[00:17:31.27] | many things, I think, are coming back to what I first learned with Coach Boyle in that the movement capacities of athletes kind of predict the performance a lot more than the strength. And I'd say the resiliency and the ability to resist injury is along those lines too. Now, I mean, the strength part plays a huge role. And there's a discussion there to be had. But I think working with baseball, and volleyball, and like you said, angular rotation-dependent type sports-- golf.

[00:18:08.99] I lean a lot on what I learned with Coach Boyle. And then, things that I did in getting TPI certified-- you know, my TPI certifications and things like that to kind of learn not the differences, but the similarities between athletes. And I think there's a lot more similar than there are things different. And it's just the load is-- how you apply load is different. I think that's the biggest part that I've taken away is just the load management, specifically with baseball. I think that's where a lot of the research points to. And with volleyball, the same thing, it's jumping, and arms swinging repeatedly, over and over again. So I think the similarities, like I said, are a lot more than the differences.

[00:19:04.42] I like that you said that. And that's something I've always really felt is working in-- early in my career, transitioning out of college, going to professional baseball, it was always about, well, in professional baseball, it's like this, and in the college setting, it's like this. And when I got there, I didn't feel like that. I felt like these are high level athletes, the best of the best. But when you boil it down, you're working with athletes. You're communicating. You're getting to know them.

[00:19:36.54] You're trying to have an impact in the way that benefits them the best way possible. And so the best practices aren't always the ideal practices, which is another-- I mean, you can talk a lot about that in a lot of different areas. But when you have a new team or a new group of students, what's your process in getting the ball rolling, and kind of building that trust, and getting the process started.

[00:20:06.09] Yeah, I'd say in a classroom it looks a lot-- well, I'd say different, only because they're a different kind of person. You know, athletes, I think, are a little bit easier to almost relate to when you're their coach, because you're coming kind of from a similar background with the same kind of end goal-- for every season is playing for your championships and seeking high performance in the weight room. But it's similar in the classroom.

[00:20:32.35] It's just you have to create the intentionality, I think, with every student to let them know that it's not really about you and that it doesn't matter if this person comes in as a-- I speak in football terms, but let's do it for the sake of it-- comes in as a one star instead of a four star, that you're going to treat them exactly the same in the classroom. If they're coming in as someone that has a terrible GPA versus the best student in class, really it's the one that has the terrible GPA that's going to need the most work.

[00:21:07.07] So either way, the relationship has to be built. The trust has to be built. In the classroom, it just takes a lot of one on one time, as much as we can. We have small class sizes at DBU. I think our average class size about 12. So it makes it a lot easier to do the same kind of things as you would working with a team. But I'd say, in a lot of sports, a lot of athletic performance cases now, we've got to have the strength coaches that pursue seeking a lot of time with their team.

[00:21:40.85] They're down at practice every day or whenever they have the chance. It's not their, just, station in the weight room. So I think just the intentionality there and getting outside of-- for myself, getting outside of my office and spending time with the students outside of my classroom. And it's the same as kind of getting outside the weight room and spending time with your athletes in a different context as well.

[00:22:03.60] So talk about your decision to pursue a doctoral degree and become a professor, kind of making that transition from practitioner to educator. Was that always your goal? Or did that evolve through your time as a strength coach?

[00:22:17.45] Yeah, I'd say it definitely evolves. At 25, maybe 26, was when had my first full time job at Florida State. And at that time, the last thing I was thinking about was having a job other than my first one. You know, I was kind of all into what I was doing there. I felt like, at the time, it was my dream job. I was at a perennial College World Series contender, and working with great athletes, and working with future guys on the PGA TOUR and the future ladies on the LPGA tour, and guys that would go to the Major Leagues. I thought that was like my sport.

[00:22:54.30] But over time, as you age, you kind of consider the context on how that was all happening and the toll that it was taking. And when you have your first kid, you understand how much you're not home, you know, I think. And that kind of let me down the path of if I were to ever get out of strength conditioning, what would it look like? And I felt like my next step was to pursue a terminal degree and to go into higher education and being a faculty member.

[00:23:27.60] Now I didn't know if I would-- at first, I thought it was in sports psychology. I was going to pursue a PhD in sports psychology and try to do that at Florida State while I was there. But ultimately, that door was closed. And I wasn't even pursuing Dallas Baptist. It just kind of popped up. And it happened. And by the time I got here, it was within the first semester that I was approached about pursuing my doctorate at DBU. So it was kind of one of those things that I just kind of kept the door swinging a little bit. And if I were to go, I was I was going to be pushed there by continued reminder and kind of saying that I can't really tell anymore. So I didn't know. I just think that I left the opportunities open and just kind of let things happen.

[00:24:20.90] Yeah, so you mentioned you had two kids.

[00:24:23.79] Yeah, yeah, I have a seven-year-old boy and a four-year-old boy.

[00:24:28.02] Nice, so talk about becoming a parent and the strength conditioning field from transitioning of going the Professor route and also working as a strength coach. What is that balancing act of scheduling time away from family for you?

[00:24:42.36] Yeah, I think before you even think about kids, you have to know you married the right person to see if they're going to be in on it. So starting with a really understanding wife helps. But then, once you start to have kids, I think the intentionality needs to be really, really amped up to the point where-- you know, some of the pictures that sit on my desk are the ones where my son at Florida State is visiting me at work, like where he is hanging down in the bullpen with me or coming in visiting me pregame before we get rolling. Because during baseball season, you're there until 10, 10:30, 11:00 at night.

[00:25:29.52] So just those times that they are able to come and hang out, you've got to make the time to separate-- you know, even when you are at work. There are 30 minute windows. There are one hour windows when you have some time. So building in the lunch dates, building in the afternoon in the weight room where my sons would come and hang out during a training session. And they would just kind of sit over in the corner bouncing on a physio ball, just kind of being kids.

[00:25:58.91] And you just have to-- I think the athletes understand too. You know, they like to see that you're a human, right, that you're not just a robot that pretends things are great all the time. You know, you want to see your kids. And I think there's an understanding now, I think, with a lot of head coaches, too, that I'm around. They make the note that, like, you need to have your family time and keep your family around as much as possible. So yeah, I think it's just intentionality. And just kind of spiking that up when you can.

[00:26:33.25] I definitely connect with that. I know it's really special thinking back through my baseball career, my son, Colin, is seven years old. So he's the oldest and has got to experience most of it compared to the girls. So a lot of really special memories, just having family and kids at the ballpark or around you at work. It's a unique benefit to this field. Our kids get to see us in a really cool profession and in a unique leadership-type role.

[00:27:01.28] I think about, when our kids go to college one day, part of their decision making and the way they're going to think about the world will come from some of these early thoughts and experiences just by showing up with us and seeing what student athletes are doing. That's really inspiring to me, as a parent, not just a strength coach. And like you said, intentionality on both fronts, because we need to be consistent. And there is, or should be, alignment between who you are as a coach and who you are as a parent.

[00:27:31.50] So what you said does really connect with coaches in the field, because it relates to life beyond the weight room. There is a focus on soft skills right now in strength and conditioning, if that's what you want to call it, or the importance of communication and relationships. And I think that work/life balance and family dynamic tie in really well with that. From your perspective, talk about non-weight room skills. What other qualities are important for strength coaches that you're working with?

[00:28:02.17] Yeah, I mean, there's buzz words, you know. I think the soft skills side of things is a lot of buzz words and a lot of kind of misunderstanding of buzz words. You always hear people talk about a culture creating a culture. What does that mean? You always hear people talk about leadership. What makes a good leader? You always hear people talking about coaching. What makes a good coach?

[00:28:26.92] It's kind of this Venn diagram of all of these different things that make up what can really move people to action. And I think one of those things is continuing to be researched as emotional intelligence a little bit, like knowing what to say and when to say it kind of thing, and understanding the cultural context of what you're saying, the situation you're currently in. And I think that's a big part. And I think there is a blend between leadership, coaching, and emotional intelligence that has, at the center of it, just transformation of an athlete.

[00:29:12.14] You show them your leadership skills, not by what you say, but by what you do, right, and how you engage with them, and how you develop them. And intertwined with that is the coaching aspect, to where you're bringing about awareness and then what they need to do to be a better human, to be a better athlete. And then from an emotional intelligence perspective, I think just being able to draw upon those things from coaching and leadership, the awareness and engagement aspect, to kind of meet them where they are and know that it is not always something that has to be said. But sometimes it's something that has to be done.

[00:29:59.28] Show them an act a service. Show them that you don't need to berate to make yourself known as right all the time, you know, to give them the opportunity to fail without this crazy amount of oversight. So I think the emotional aspect-- the emotional intelligence aspect is a big one in that kind of art of coaching and soft skills. And I think, from the teaching perspective too, I see a lot where the cultural intelligence side of things and knowing people come from different places, right, and as much as we overlook that a lot of times, that can make the biggest difference in just understanding why people do what they do.

[00:30:47.80] And it's just culturally, some of them, it's not how they grew up. You know, it's not their fault. I think it was said by Frank Wright, basketball coach collegiate basketball coach, that a lot of times we blame these things on kids, or athletes, or people that we're talking about in the college aspect, or high school even, we blame a lot on the kids. But really, where are we talking about the parents? Like it is truly a lot of the responsibility of how kids are is on the parents. So I think the understanding with the athlete has to be, I know you are who you are because of who you spend time with and those around you. But I think the emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence idea around that is that you can still help them. And you're not going to beat them down for it.

[00:31:41.56] So take that to the mentoring of young strength coaches. And now we have to go beyond that foundational knowledge of just teaching the scientific concepts, but including the behavioral, philosophical, or the art of coaching skill set. Is that something that can be taught? Or are those intangibles that we need coaching and life experience to build on?

[00:32:02.99] You know, I mean, I think it's kind of all of the above a little bit. I think that's why you're your best-- or not necessarily your best, but I think strength coaches often come from people that were in athletics, right? They're comfortable in the context. They're comfortable being around large groups of people and kind of speaking their mind. So they're comfortable in that context. And that kind of leads to the initial submission that you've got to be able to communicate first. And I think that's where we're lacking a lot in the classroom.

[00:32:39.48] What I'm seeing is that you have students coming through that want to be strength conditioning coaches that might not have been an athlete, or that might not have been a collegiate athlete, and still want to be in it. But they're not giving themselves the opportunity to go and practice communication skills and to talk to people, because they're spending all of their time on social media and communicating with people via devices. And so I think what kind of helped develop me as a coach and being more comfortable communicating is that pursuit of experiences outside of what I was doing at the time.

[00:33:16.09] So starting at Mike Doyle, he challenged us-- we worked Monday through Thursday-- and just challenged us to spend our Friday, Saturday, and Sunday visiting places around the greater Boston area, to go and meet people, and talk to them, and ask them questions, and learn. And that's how I spent my weekends. It wasn't the beach, you know? I went down and visited Eric Cressey one weekend. I went over and visited Harvard and BC and BU all these Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during my time there.

[00:33:49.30] And I think that's a bit of what helps develop that aspect of coaching that matter so much as communication and soft skills, it's just first being able to communicate with anybody, being able to ask the right questions, being able to listen, just being a good listener. And not just listening, but really hearing and absorbing what's being told to you. So often I think it's a failure of mine too is I'm trying to prepare what I'm going to say next instead of really listening to what someone's saying and hearing.

[00:34:28.31] So I think it's giving yourself the opportunity to go out and get those experiences and just get on the horn. And people will let you. I think our profession is really good like that, where if someone shows some initiative, then they'll let you come through, watch and then ask some good questions afterwards, if they have the time.

[00:34:51.64] Yeah, I agree with you. I think back to grad school. And one of the courses was Psychology of the College Aged Adult. And it was outside of the department. Not a lot of other strength and conditioning students were taking that course. But it's amazing that what I learned still resonates with me. In the academic setting, it's very theoretical. But when you can take that basic outline with you into the applied coaching world, it's really experiences like that that give you insight and context to your coaching experiences. Now, looking at ways we learn, what books and resources have helped you along the way that you recommend to our listeners?

[00:35:32.33] Oh, man, there's a ton of good books out there. I'd say one that has really helped in terms of career-- this is outside of strength and conditioning, but it's a book called Every Good Endeavor. And it's by Timothy Keller. And it's a book that-- it's based on kind of pursuing vocation as opposed to job and what it looks like to actually be doing what you're called to do. And it is a-- you know, it is written by a Christian author. And it's one that I use as actually a book in my internship class that I teach at DBU to kind of introduce the concepts of what it looks like to actually feel called to do something. And I think that's super important as a strength conditioning coach.

[00:36:23.46] And what I do too, being a faculty member is, you have to feel called to do it to have a sustainable career, or else every day is going to just feel like a smack in the face getting up at 4:30 in the morning and staying until late at night. So just the understanding for them, as they go into practical experience and experiential learning, what it would look like if this was your calling. So that's a good one.

[00:36:52.61] I think there's a lot more, kind of in the practical strength conditioning setting, too, that I spend, obviously, a lot of time in textbooks in teaching. But some good ones outside of that, I always like reading Dan John books. I mean, he's just a real person and someone I enjoy, kind of light reading that has some good structural content too and some good stuff. So that's really one that is kind of always on my desk is that Every Good Endeavor book.

[00:37:28.99] Yeah, so we've talked about your career path and the different sports you've worked with, coaching skills, how it's influenced your thought process as a parent and as a coach. Now looking ahead 10 to 20 years, what is the future of this field look like for you? What are we all striving for right now, in your opinion?

[00:37:47.81] Oh, boy, I mean, like I mentioned earlier, I think this shift has already started. There are super impressive, super strong athletes out there that just aren't the highest performers, right? So it's kind of understanding that the performance dynamics of other things that actually create performance. And the identification of us always as strength coaches, I think is a real misnomer. I think it's just going to continue to develop into a much more validated profession that truly increases athletic performance.

[00:38:27.66] And I think that's the NSTA is doing some good things and going and working towards having some educational programs that are accredited and that can create an education towards doing that, creating kind of a really robust performance developed in curriculum to go in before you get certified. But I think it's ultimately evolving more towards other things outside of strength or performance and some of those things that are lower hanging fruit for performance.

[00:39:01.52] And I teach a psychology of sport class here at DBU, too. And I think that's one that you're going to see continue to take off is the psychology of sport side of things. Because, again, that one's primarily free. You know, you can do a lot of that if you have some extra time on your hands and the right people to guide you through it. So some pretty good performance coming from that. So I think that'll be another big one too is the psychology side.

[00:39:29.71] Yeah, so for anyone interested in joining the baseball strength and conditioning special interest group or connecting with Adam, what's the best way for our listeners to get in contact?

[00:39:37.72] Yeah, so the baseball special interest group is great, right now, just on Facebook, so kind of exploring some other ways where we might be able to expand that. But right now it's just on Facebook. So you can go in and type in NSCA baseball SIG, I believe, just into the search bar. And it's a closed group right now. So all you have to do is just kind of request approval to come into the group. And I'll be one that approves those. And you can join in on the group and start helping provide content to everyone in the group. It's grown quite a bit, I think over the last year or so. So hopefully, we can continue to do that.

[00:40:18.58] And then, I might am not real active on social media. I mean, I have Instagram, and Twitter, and all that. And I think it's @WoodyRoss33. So I was given the nickname when I went to Florida State, Woody, because Mike Martin, who was a coach at the time at Florida State, said I looked like Woody Harrelson. So he called me Woody. And I just started using that. So it's WoodyRoss33, I think that was the handle on those. And my email is And I am real hot on the email responses. So I get those out pretty quick. So those are the primary ways.

[00:41:05.09] Good, well, Adam, thank you so much for being on the podcast, being kind of the first go on this video version of it with us. And also, a big thanks to our sponsor, Sorinex Exercise Equipment. We appreciate their support.

[00:41:17.21] All right, Eric, thanks.

[00:41:18.77] And as you know, we at the NSCA, love research, especially applying that research. If you're not a member yet, join us and get access to the best strength and conditioning journals available. Just go to And to all of you listening, we appreciate your support. Again, if you like the podcast, make sure you subscribe wherever you download your podcast from, write us a review. And keep listening in. Thank you, and I look forward to talking with you all soon.

[00:41:40.45] 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.

[00:41:58.96] [MUSIC PLAYING]

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Eric L. McMahon, MEd, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F,*D, RSCC*E

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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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Adam Ross, EdD, CSCS, RSCC

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Currently, Dr. Adam Ross is the Chair of and an Assistant Professor within the Kinesiology Department at Dallas Baptist University. Up until this past ...

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