NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Episode 80: Mary Kate and Adam Feit

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D, Mary Kate Feit, CSCS,*D, and Adam Feit, MS, CSCS,*D, RSCC
Coaching Podcast June 2020

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Mary Kate Feit, Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Strength and Conditioning at Springfield College, and Adam Feit, Coordinator of Physical and Mental Performance at Springfield College and Assistant Director of Performance Nutrition at Precision Nutrition, talk to the NSCA Coaching Program Manager, Eric McMahon, about being a married couple in the world of strength and conditioning. Topics under discussion include the unique positions they hold at Springfield College, how becoming parents has changed their perspective on coaching, and why diversity is so important for the future of the field.

Connect with Mary Kate via email: mfeit@springfield.edu | Find Adam on Twitter: @Adam_Feit or Instagram @aefeit | Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“I was the youngest head strength and conditioning coach in Division I at the time. I took over a team that was the worst in the nation. So you talked about growth mindset and an opportunity to learn and get better.” 11:11

“Just being someone who's able to step up. If we send out a message, hey, we need someone to do this, we're looking for that person who's going to respond right away. I'm on it. Can I help?” 13:45

“However, what are they doing with that knowledge and how are they translating that into real life situations? So can you be adaptable? Can you be reliable? Can I count on you to treat everything as it should?” 14:29

“And even when I see professional athletes, I still think. I mean, they're younger than us now, most of them. And I still think of them as someone's child. And I think that changes everything. It's not about winning. It's about this individual. And I think I always kind of saw it that way.” 20:15

“Be the coach that people want to hire. Now we have technology. We need a sports science expert. We need a nutrition coach. We need a FMS corrective coach. We need a VBT coach. And I would say a coach, but a skill set. And now I look at it as be the coach that can do a lot of many things.” 38:48

Transcript

[00:00:00.75] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast episode 80.

[00:00:03.99] Being someone who is able to step up. If we send out a message, hey, we need someone to do this, we're looking for that person who's going to respond right away. I'm on it. Can I help?

[00:00:13.56] 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.

[00:00:24.69] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I am Eric McMahon. With me today, Mary Kate and Adam Feit, my friends from Springfield College. Welcome to the show.

[00:00:36.91] Thanks, Eric.

[00:00:37.86] Great to be here, Eric. Thanks, man.

[00:00:39.19] Yeah, so this is a special episode. This is the first husband and wife strength and conditioning podcast on our show. I don't know if we ever really thought that was going to be a thing, but it is, and I definitely have some questions that maybe you've never been asked before in a podcast kind of related to that. I kind of feel like I was there at the beginning. I knew you, MK, in grad school at Springfield. And Adam, you were actually one of our athletes at the time.

[00:01:16.55] But I also know you as a coach as well. You were senior and I was a first year grad student, and then not too long you were out in the field speaking and just doing-- you guys have both done so much over the years, and I valued our friendship over the years and just I'm really happy for you guys and everything you guys are doing. So if you guys would both just take a minute and talk about your background and how you got into the field of strength and conditioning.

[00:01:44.16] Sure, I'll go first. So I often say I'm the luckiest person in strength and conditioning I was a pretty good soccer player when I was growing up, and I grew really early, and because of that, people started catching up and my premier soccer coach said, hey, you should try doing some resistance training. And he told me a gym to go to, and I walked in and I started training there. And I mean, it could have been anywhere, but I was lucky enough that it was Mike Boyle's strength and conditioning.

[00:02:10.35] So I started my career off as a kid, 13, 14 years old, training with Mike. And then he hired me on staff by the time I had a license. So I was really lucky. I've only been a strength and conditioning coach until now, now that I'm a professor. But I started my career, pretty much grew up in the weight room. Was lucky enough I got offered a little bit of money to go play soccer at Holy Cross. Went and played soccer there. Had a great strength coach there under coach Jeff Oliver. And then I knew I wanted to stay in the field, so I went on to Springfield College and got my master's there.

[00:02:44.37] That's awesome.

[00:02:45.12] How do you match that, right?

[00:02:46.71] [LAUGHTER]

[00:02:48.54] Good answer.

[00:02:49.17] Yeah, exactly. So it's funny, because Mary Kate talks about not having the typical start. How do we get into this field? And it usually involves some sort of cheap Joe Weider vinyl weight set with sand. And that's exactly how mine was. So like many coaches, you decide to get better at a sport and whatnot.

[00:03:09.76] So mine was actually interesting. My father said I wasn't strong enough to go bow hunting with him and had said something along the lines of you got to be able to bench press 65 pounds to pull the bow and arrow back. And once I got older, I realized, what the heck is he talking about? But it was just enough to get me started. So I think I started really weight training in middle school. And I'd always been a bigger guy and decided to play football in high school and realized that, hey, we can do some good things here.

[00:03:36.00] But in terms of getting into the field, it was really a matter of, like a lot of athletes we see, it's some sort of tragic event or some pivotal shift in their development. And mine was a season ending injury. So I was a football player in high school, among other sports, and broke my left arm completely in half a week before our first game. And so in the context of a 17-year-old male and it's the last year of football and it's a big transition period, I mean, it shattered me.

[00:04:02.08] And so I was actually on the sidelines with our athletic trainer, Kevin Offrey, I'll never forget it. And we're just talking shop, thinking about what are we going to do. And he's like, you need to get into strength and conditioning. And I have no clue what that was. He's like, everything you're doing with the team and the captain's practices and the training. I thought it was personal training and he just completely opened up my opportunity of looking at a career in strength and conditioning and sports performance.

[00:04:24.75] And I've done a lot of other things as well within that realm, which led me to Springfield College to do my undergrad, which is where I met all of you and conveniently was right down the road from where I grew up. So really thankful for that and the opportunity of not being strong enough and getting hurt, because it's put me in a position to sit next to you guys today.

[00:04:41.10] That's awesome. That's kind of a theme we hear a lot in strength and conditioning. It's like we reach our athletic potential or we have a setback and then we want to basically give back what we've learned and that overcome mentality to be able to continue and pour into our athletes. That's a huge part of our field.

[00:05:04.66] So you guys are both PhD students at Springfield College now transitioning into professor type roles. So talk about your current roles at Springfield and what you guys do with the athletic program there as well.

[00:05:25.43] Sure. So both Adam and I are in our third year of our doctoral program. So we're just kind of finishing it up this semester. And this fall, I was actually offered an assistant professor position. So I am currently a full time student as well as a full time faculty member. So I teach a lot of our grad strength and conditioning classes, sports nutrition. I'm going to teach a undergrad management of health and fitness facilities class. So teaching a lot of those exercise science classes, a little bit more heavy in the grad program, but still involved in the undergrad program.

[00:05:59.62] In addition, I got a three credit release to work in clinical education. So I help oversee our graduate students who run our strength and conditioning program. So anyone who doesn't know about how we do it at Springfield College is we have graduate assistants who are in charge of running the whole program. And myself and Adam will talk about his role and Dr. Brian Thompson, we oversee them.

[00:06:21.07] So that means when they write a new program for their sport, they bring it to us. We read it, we check it, we approve it, we give them feedback, and then they go put it into place. So we're really there just kind of as a check and balance, go and observe, giving them feedback. There to support the coaches if they need us to step in a little bit more. But generally, our coaches are really great about mentoring our GAs and working with them. And our GAs really get to feel like head strength and conditioning coaches, which is really awesome.

[00:06:49.82] That's great.

[00:06:50.90] Yeah, so to build on that, the only, I'd say, biggest difference would be not being a full time member of the faculty. So my full time work is with Precision Nutrition. But as a PhD candidate in sport and exercise psychology, I'm able to blend my experience coaching, mentoring with our graduate students as well but also helping with the nutrition education and most importantly from now, the mental performance piece, because I think that's something that I'm going to talk about in tomorrow's presentation of how to bridge that gap and sharpen this edge of this physical and technical preparation together.

[00:07:21.77] So when I'm not in class, I'm helping with the senior staff, like Mary Kate talked about with Dr. Thompson, herself, Dr. Maura Bergen as well, supervising our interns. I oversee the development of football teams. So we've got a few GAs that work specifically with them and with a bunch of other teams as well. And I'm able to offer some guidance and look at things from a large angle of, hey, I've made a lot of these mistakes already, and I value your opportunity to make similar ones, but I can tell you from experience that we don't want this to happen to you.

[00:07:52.51] So it's been really awesome. I'm able to use my sports psych experience with them as well some of the other teams on campus, which has been really great. So I kind of consider myself a little bit of a utility coach to just wherever you need me, whatever I can do as coordinator of physical mental performance in a staff position that I'm in, I'm ready to go.

[00:08:11.11] That's awesome. So you guys have worked at the collegiate level in strength and conditioning, the professional level, Adam, and also in the private sector together, actually, and now kind of going into the academic route. Talk about some of the stops along the way, pros, cons, and biggest challenges that you guys have faced in this career.

[00:08:33.97] Sure. So I left Springfield College a semester early to take a job at the University of Iowa, and then I kind of quickly-- I was there a little under a year before I went to the University of Louisville. And I loved collegiate strength and conditioning. It was awesome. I think Adam and I started dating when we were both strength coaches at the University of Louisville. And that really provided a great opportunity of we were on the same schedule.

[00:08:58.03] And I think sometimes people would like, that's kind of weird. You're both in the same field. You have too many similarities. And I'm like, no, it's awesome, because we understand the struggles that we're both in. So we understand that you have to get up at 6:00 AM to run lifts. We understand that you might not be home till 8:00 PM. But maybe we're both off from 1:00 to 3:00. You know what I mean? So I think when we were both at Louisville, that was really a great time for us, especially when we started our relationship of that we were both young professionals really into the field, really devoted to the field, and we understood the demands that were associated.

[00:09:30.46] I would say our biggest struggle was probably he left Louisville, and he'll talk about his journey, but to go to Eastern Michigan. So we were apart for a pretty substantial amount of time, about 15, 16 months, before we ended up both moving to North Carolina for his job. So personally, that was a challenge. Who's going to hire a married couple? You know what I mean? And I think that's something that we're always trying to figure out is how can we end up in the same state is the biggest challenge.

[00:09:58.95] Yeah, that's been quite the struggle.

[00:10:00.98] [LAUGHTER]

[00:10:02.19] And I look back on it, the years at Louisville, I was there for two seasons working with football, only Mary Kate was Olympic sports. And it was really the perfect blend, because while you were under the same roof of strength conditioning, it was two different departments. So we were able to learn from each other's staffs and have that, like Mary Kate said, that sense of shared success but also the shared struggles. And I think that's what's really helped us in our relationship getting our PhDs together is knowing the situations and the behaviors and the coaching dynamics and the gripes and the consequences. You're not just going home and unloading on your spouse about how bad work was or how excited you are. They actually understand and get you.

[00:10:39.63] And so we had talked about it. And she said at first, she said I will get a job before you in this field, but you'll become a head coach before me. And unfortunately or fortunately, however we want to slice it, that's exactly what happened. So two years at University of Louisville with Joe Kenn, Bryan Dermody, Eddie Grayer, Joe Connolly, all great guys that I still talk to and very privileged to learn with to this day. Unfortunately at that level, if you don't win games, you just get reused, recycled, and hopefully sent off somewhere else.

[00:11:09.13] So I had an opportunity. I was 24. I was the youngest had strength and conditioning coach in Division I at the time. I took over a team that was the worst in the nation. So you talked about growth mindset and an opportunity to learn and get better. But also undertaking all of that with no social support. Mary Kate said earlier, being gone for 15, 16 months. I think was a six hour drive, right? So I got the job right in the off season, then it's spring ball, and she's driving up every three weeks. In season, we're trying to make it work. So that was some serious challenges.

[00:11:41.46] But to go back to your original question, some of the pros of the collegiate setting, I think, and we've talked a lot about this with sports psychology, but this sense of relatedness. In collegiate strength and conditioning, you are a part of something. You are part of a community. And a town like Louisville, there's no professional teams. So it was college sports all the time, and you're hanging out with the other sport coaches, and you really have a sense of camaraderie with everybody.

[00:12:03.69] Unfortunately, as we know to the day, a lot of the drawbacks are you cannot control your fate. It's rested on 18 to 22-year-olds and if they decide to show up and play and if your coaches decide to do the right thing on the road or with other people and whatnot. So that was something that we took and continue to develop as we developed as coaches and a short stop in the NFL and then having an opportunity to turn something into something incredible with Reach Your Potential training with Bobby Smith and his wife Sharon Wentworth. I mean, it's really been quite a ride. But it is nice now that we're older, we have a family to look back on. Every single circumstance and situation that we struggled with clearly made us that the coaches and spouses and parents that we are today.

[00:12:47.94] That's awesome. So one thing you guys have always done and I think about when you guys were at RYPT and you had interns and now you're at Springfield and you're running the program. And you've gone through this kind of for yourself as interns and getting a lot of input and feedback from your mentors. What makes a strength and conditioning coach successful? What are you looking for in the students that you have at Springfield College that you're putting out into the field?

[00:13:18.73] Sure. I mean, I think the number one thing is we want them to be motivated. If they come in and they don't have the educational background or they don't have the experience, as long as they're motivated to learn and to read and to do internships and kind of to do whatever it takes to be successful and not be held back by being intimidated to do something or being too busy. You know what I mean? Just being someone who's able to step up. If we send out a message, hey, we need someone to do this, we're looking for that person who's going to respond right away. I'm on it. Can I help? You know what I mean? So looking for those people who are really motivated to be involved.

[00:14:00.21] Yeah, to add to that, I look at a lot of characteristics. I think a successful coach is very adaptable. The ability to take what is done or what is presented to them and if it has to change in a moment's notice, we are OK. We're going to find that way. So the adaptability, the responsibility, the accountability, all these abilities. Because it's very easy for coaches to learn in today's day and age. We're doing a podcast right now. There is no shortage of the supply of learning.

[00:14:29.31] However, what are they doing with that knowledge and how are they translating that into real life situations? So can you be adaptable? Can you be reliable? Can I count on you to treat everything as it should? And it's not just sweeping the floors. It's not just making sure the racks are set at nine and five. It's we've seen it time and time again that these lessons do translate to the opportunities that you create for yourself or that are created for you simply as a byproduct of what you're doing now in the positions that you're in.

[00:14:58.90] So I look at a lot of life lessons in coaching and how can they be greatly successful. Yeah, we want them motivated. They're going to learn the stuff. But what are all the intangibles? Because we're going to teach you strength and conditioning.

[00:15:11.73] Non weight room skills.

[00:15:12.75] Exactly.

[00:15:13.71] Life skills.

[00:15:14.74] Life skills, it's people skills, communication skills. A lot of great content we've seen thus far at NSCA has been talking about, yeah, hey it's X's and O's and it's APRE and it's fluid periodization, whatever. But how are we having these conversations and how are they unfolding? And so I want personality. We will teach you strength. Can you hold a group? Can you be fun? Do I want to work with you?

[00:15:35.99] For sure. So you guys have-- we're here at the 2020 Coaches Conference in San Antonio, and you guys are both speakers. And Adam, you've been speaking with Precision Nutrition for a number of years now. MK, you're getting on the scene more and more every year. And what was the-- what's your motivation to get out and speak and kind of spread your knowledge to future generations of strength coaches?

[00:16:07.20] It takes a lot to get up and speak. There's a lot of people that it's one of their biggest fears to get up in front of a group of people and to share. Just afraid of the feedback or the response that you might get putting yourself out there. And you guys both do such a great job with that. What's your motivation to do that? And just talk about that a little bit.

[00:16:27.30] I mean, in talking about my background, I mentioned a couple of people that really made an impact in my life. And for me, speaking is a way for me to make an impact in the field. And specifically, I'm interested in internship education, coach education. And by going up there and speaking, I'm educating all these people who can then go on and educate other professionals.

[00:16:48.52] So if I talk to 10 people today and they each have four interns next year, well, I influence 40 people. So for me right now, I feel like my biggest impact, yeah, it will definitely be with the students at Springfield College. But when I speak, I'm influencing professionals all over the nation. And that's something I really want to do.

[00:17:07.61] That's great.

[00:17:08.13] For me it's really been about playing to the strengths. And I think that's been a key lesson for me in coaching as well as the coaches I serve and I work with. Because oftentimes we put people in positions or have them do roles that they might be pretty good at it, but maybe they don't enjoy it. And for me speaking is a natural ability. I was always in a position of leadership on sports teams growing up. I mean, fun fact, Eric, I don't know if you know this, but I was the Tin Man in the eighth grade school play. So having that sense of being in front of others. And this is for everybody to know.

[00:17:43.25] He was also Homecoming King. Just saying.

[00:17:45.66] Didn't need to know that. But I've always been comfortable to have that message and to have that presence in front of people. And it's something I want to do more. I think writing, as much as I enjoy it, some coaches can do that. Whether it's the book chapter, whether it's a blog post. You can't feel the emotion. You can't capture the passion of how much this message. And how I look at presenting is storytelling. You can't get that from words.

[00:18:09.60] And so for me, why I love it is because people can see that from me. They can feel it, and they're going to leave any message I get and give and deliver of I can sense the care, I can sense the commitment. And it's fun, and I love it. I look forward to doing it tomorrow. I've got a couple lined up. But very thankful for a platform with organizations like Precision Nutrition and the NSCA for allowing me to give that message and to have that stage, because I enjoy every minute of it.

[00:18:37.02] That's cool.

[00:18:37.68] Anyone that knows us, I mean, they won't be surprised that before I'm speaking, I'm really nervous. My heart rate's up really high. I'm kind of freaking out a little bit. But I'm happy to do it. I'm excited for the opportunity. Adam, on the other hand, tomorrow's going to be game day. He's going to wake up like it's the best day of his life. And you see that just with how we are socially, you know what I mean? Adam loves being out there and being outgoing, and he just loves the stage. And I think that's really awesome.

[00:19:05.25] It definitely gets easier as you get up and you learn to control the nerves a little bit.

[00:19:10.62] Yeah. Same thing happens to me. And we talk about that in psychology. It's how we appraise a situation. I think we just updated my CV. From a performance standpoint, I've probably given close to 75, 80 presentations over the years since school. And I still get up there and the heart rate goes up. The hands get a little clammy. But for me, that's a sign of here it is. Let's go. The curtain is going to be unveiled. So yeah, competence is bred through the opportunity of repetition, repetition, repetition. So go out there and keep speaking and challenge yourself.

[00:19:42.45] That is awesome. So this is what I really wanted to talk to you guys about.

[00:19:47.16] Slow rolling us the last 20 minutes.

[00:19:51.84] So having a family in the strength and conditioning field, you guys are uniquely qualified to talk about that. So one thing I want to ask is how's your perspective towards the field changed since having kids?

[00:20:06.83] I think it's hard to look at a student athlete and not think of them as someone's child. And even when I see professional athletes, I still think. I mean, they're younger than us now, most of them. And I still think of them as someone's child. And I think that changes everything. It's not about winning. It's about this individual. And I think I always kind of saw it that way.

[00:20:30.33] But from a parenting standpoint, I mean, I have Mom moments out there where I'm like, oh, are they OK? You know what I mean? Where I'm definitely like-- I definitely have a motherly instinct towards these student athletes and towards my interns and towards my grad students. And I think parenting just kind of brings that out of you a little bit more.

[00:20:50.99] On the other side of the coin, I think I'd add how it's affected my relationship with the coaches that we work with, specifically the graduate assistants and interns. Because when you're not a parent, you have this very myopic view of you should be the first one in and the last one out, and there's nothing else that's more important to you. And you've got to grind and it's hustle.

[00:21:11.09] And you get older and you realize, and this was actually a huge lesson when we joined the private sector, was if it doesn't have to be done in the confines of this brick and mortar lack of sunlit room in the basement below basements of a weight room, and I can do this with my kids crawling on me or I can do it when they go to bed at night, that's where I want to do it. Because as Mary Kate pointed out earlier in her presentation, when I'm there, I want to be there.

[00:21:35.91] So for me, it's been about delegation of responsibilities. It's been about, hey, do we have to do this now? Or guess what? Just because you don't have a family doesn't mean that you don't have other things to do. And that's really made me a more empathic coach and a compassionate coach of realizing also that they think things are hard. And of course, you're as a parent as well, you have no idea. You think this is hard.

[00:22:00.98] But we respect that. Because at this point in their life right now, finals only and trying to make rent only or studying for a test is the hardest thing in their life right now. So being a parent and having those dad moments, been a lot more understanding and authentic in my relationship with the coaches I work with.

[00:22:20.90] I think we're very efficient now. We'll have our grad students be freaking out about a couple of things and they're like-- and then I'm freaking out because I have this and this due and then I think of you and Adam. And I tell them, your struggle is real even though it's not our struggle. But I mean, in our positions where we're both working full time and we're both full time students and we have a five and a seven year old and we're very much there.

[00:22:44.54] My daughter goes to school till 2:00. Someone picks her up every day at 2:00, even though we work full time and we're full time students. So we're just really good at making every minute of the day count and figuring out who's on drop off, who's on pick up, who's going to be going to this practice, who's going to be getting up at 6:00 AM to do work while the other one gets everybody off to the school. And just really good at being efficient and being organized. And I mean, I think that helps us as coaches too.

[00:23:14.69] That's great. Yeah. So flip it the other way now. And MK, you talked a little bit about this. How does your coaching background help you as a parent?

[00:23:26.10] Yeah, I mean, I think that's perfect to what I just said. I mean, we are scheduled to the tee. We share a Google Calendar.

[00:23:33.54] Time out. Can I butt in real quick?

[00:23:35.18] [LAUGHTER]

[00:23:36.34] So we're going to go back to when we got married, which was July 2, 2011. And actually, I'll preface that with maybe the day or two before. You want to talk about itineraries and Excel of where you gotta be, what you gotta do, who you're going to be doing it with, the time that you have. I mean, you should have saw the charts that we had for our wedding.

[00:23:57.09] And it actually was in our wedding vows, Eric, that was like, hey, are you going to ease off the Excel in this marriage? Because the templates were fantastic. So yes efficient and programming. I'll let you continue. But I mean, we've seen it multiply exponentially in our relationship.

[00:24:14.58] The Excel skills as a strength coach is a great application.

[00:24:18.57] Our Disney trip, you should have saw that. I mean, the cell merging. We had a watermark on the background.

[00:24:25.08] Oh, stop.

[00:24:26.13] [LAUGHTER]

[00:24:27.74] Say hi to Mickey Mouse.

[00:24:31.86] I don't remember what I was talking about now. But yeah, I mean, I think as strength and conditioning coaches, you're used to being organized and scheduled and everything. And because of that, we kind of run our household like that. We have a whiteboard up in our kitchen. It's actually a clear glass one, so it looks nice.

[00:24:47.66] We have a million whiteboards.

[00:24:48.28] Yeah, we do. But every week I write up Monday through Sunday, and I write up anything out of the ordinary up there and then who's picking up, who's dropping off, and then we have a synced Google Calendar. I'm one color, he's another color, the kids are a third color. And just always having that structure. And I guess it's kind of like having a lift structure. What is this time devoted to every single day?

[00:25:11.76] That's awesome. I'm taking notes. I'm going to take some of this stuff home.

[00:25:15.24] [LAUGHTER]

[00:25:17.01] I think what's helped too, just the field in general about taking care of yourself. And certainly we've been in better conditions of physical and probably mental health. We've also been in probably worse as well. But our kids have seen our efforts in taking care of ourselves and them taking care of themselves. So we've been collecting weight room equipment for years. At every school that had thrown things out or great sales.

[00:25:38.11] And so we built an incredible two car garage gym. And our kids, we do family workouts, and the garage doors come up. And we have elements where there's turf. The kids know exactly what to do. And they're pulling the plyo boxes out and the obstacle courses. And so we've been really able to take that, as Mary Kate talked about, structure but also that the free play aspect of, hey, we're going to go in the gym and get a family workout and we're going to do our thing, but you have full reign and we want you to have fun and explore and really get to see what mom and dad do on a probably not a daily basis these days with school, but on a basis that we truly enjoy.

[00:26:13.71] Both kids were born when we were working at RYPT. So I mean, literally Cody took his first step on the turf at Reach Your Potential Training. And Macy wasn't there quite as much, because you know how two kids in a gym is way different than one kid in the gym. But I literally can't bring them to a facility and expect them to stand next to me. They walk into a strength and conditioning facility and to them it's a playground, because they grew up playing there.

[00:26:38.16] So they're hanging off the TRX's, Cody will rip out some pull ups on a bar, they're jumping on plyo boxes, they're putting ankle bands on and doing band walks. And they know what all the stuff is. I mean, I think both of them were foam rolling by the time they were 18 months.

[00:26:55.62] We got a picture. We were at Jersey and we were doing wall drills, I think, and Cody got on the wall. But I mean, yeah, exactly. He's break dancing on the platforms, because we just got them waxed. I mean, he's setting PRs in his exercises. And, hey, we're going to do a workout. And we let them coach us through it. Where is this coming from?

[00:27:14.94] Cody, often I'll look over in our office, and he'll be doing jumping jacks and push ups and I'm like, Cody, what are you doing? Oh, just getting a workout in. All right, dude.

[00:27:22.56] That's awesome. My son does that too and it's the coolest thing as a parent. So you talked about your garage gym. And when I started having kids, it changed my perspective and kind of broadened my perspective, and I never really thought about working with youth athletes before. But you guys have really worked the whole spectrum from collegiate to professional and now you have kids.

[00:27:46.26] Talk about long term athlete development and kind of-- I know we all have these hopes and aspirations for our kids, and I don't want to be specific to that. But talk about the concept of long term athlete development and just kind of your take on that and how it is being applied towards the training for youth and up through high school, collegiate strength and conditioning. Just kind of a broader look at the field as a whole.

[00:28:15.76] Yeah, I think I'll start off. With both of our degrees being based in physical education, this concept of movement mastery and principles and motor learning has really become the forefront, because we're all in the same Facebook groups. We see all the same Twitter rants and conversations. We're over specializing our kids. But we're enabling that to happen.

[00:28:34.67] And so I think for us, and I'll start this, is we take a very powerful position in our family of we're going to do a lot of things. When we were coaching at the high school level, which for me were some of the best years of my coaching career, I always told our athletes, I want you to get a general studies degree in weight training and agility and speed work and conditioning, because you're going to sign a scholarship, I hope, soon, and then that's it. You're going to be doing that, whether it was lacrosse or football or soccer, field hockey, what have you.

[00:29:03.74] And so when we were doing movements and writing our 90 minute performance programs, we wanted to expose them to as many stimuli to get them proficient enough where they could transfer one skill to another skill. And for us at home, it's the same thing. Our son's a little undersized, and he's an incredible soccer player. Mom's a Division I athlete and dad's a Division III has been.

[00:29:27.45] Good answer, good answer.

[00:29:28.37] He's built for that. But we also know, hey, let's do some basketball as well. And then we're going to do some baseball. Or our daughter loves you know some of the visual arts stuff with dance and acting and whatnot. So we have a rule. We've modified it. Rich Gray from PLAE talked about his kids have to do something three out of four seasons. And that's something that we've kind of adapted for our family of we're not just going to play one sport all year round. Because that day will happen probably. I think that's where we are. But Mary Kate's been very good with that and respecting that to happen, whether we've done Taekwondo with the kids and whatnot.

[00:30:02.30] So I'll start there in terms of we do that and we do coach. Mary Kate has been the head coach for the soccer team for Cody the last two years prior to this year, because he's at another level now. And now we're coaching Macy's team and I'm her assistant. I'm like the get back coach. More so it's actually the get in coach with the kids, because they're just sitting there.

[00:30:22.78] But we talk about like we're doing this or they're doing that. Are you doing something about it? And we are. And we're very active in our community. And so the ability to see that happen and unfold but also to be a part of that and make the change, be the change that we always talk about, we do that.

[00:30:39.01] Yeah, and I know-- I mean, I take a lot of pride in we coached kindergarten and first grade soccer for Cody and now kindergarten soccer for Macy. And I look over at the other coaches and they're standing in line and they're waiting their turn and they're whatever. And I mean, our kids, they're playing. We come up with as many games as possible to play during that hour. Whether it's dribbling the ball and us having music and we stop the music, you stop the ball or sharks and minnows or whatever game we can come up with to make them active as much as we can that whole entire time. And I think we take a lot of pride in that.

[00:31:14.11] Like Adam said, we're trying to get them exposed to as many sports as possible. As a soccer person, it is hard to not get pulled into getting Cody committed to a lot of soccer, because he is a very good soccer player. But he's seven. You know what I mean? So making sure we prioritize other sports at other times I struggle with. I think at some point in high school, you have to start to dial it in towards one or two sports.

[00:31:37.51] And I think one of the big reasons for that is that's a time that I really do think strength and conditioning should start up before they enter the collegiate level. And if you're playing three sports, you don't really have time for strength and conditioning. So I think in high school is when you really need to start kind of picking which season can I really focus on strength and conditioning rather than a sport.

[00:31:58.00] But we're not there yet. So we'll see how we feel when we get there. But that's where my gut is thinking that towards high school is when we're going to try to-- and obviously, we'll just follow whatever they want to do, to be honest. But that would definitely be when I'd see starting to dial it down a little bit to make sure that we're getting that strength and conditioning piece in as well as all the different various sports.

[00:32:19.27] That's a really good point about when strength and conditioning should start. I think there's such-- a lot of strength and conditioning for a long time it was really just collegiate, this four year model. You look at the essentials text, I mean, a lot of the periodization schemes are kind of based on the collegiate model of strength and conditioning.

[00:32:38.77] Yeah, quadrennial plans, annual plans.

[00:32:40.51] Yeah, and I know working in professional baseball all these years, we were off the grid that entire time. And now high school strength and conditioning now it's, well, it's expanded now to, to essentially an eight year model. That's a huge opportunity when you look at the long term athlete development model that we maybe had been missing but obviously is an area we need to continue to grow. And I believe the NSCA is going to move in that direction.

[00:33:12.04] Even just sending them on to college with good technique, you know what I mean? Just mastering that technique at a younger age in high school so that when they get to college, no matter where they're at, they already have that good base that they can perform those lifts safely and effectively.

[00:33:26.14] So you strike a big thing I'm passionate about, is because when we were at the high school level, 80% of our kids were female. And we lived in such an incredible area of Division I talent. And we know, especially in the college athletics model, kids transfer. Kids are stressed.

[00:33:43.30] You go from I am of everything, the queen of everything, high school is awesome to, wow, the coach isn't who I thought he or she was going to be. My team isn't exactly. The food sucks. The dorm sucks. The roommate sucks. And so for us, we took so much pride in saying, you're going to go to university or college, and you're going to be damn good at lifting and training, and that's going to be one less giant thing you have to worry about.

[00:34:07.75] And one of the best things ever, besides getting that nice thank you from the parents and the kids, but when the college strength coaches would call us or reach out to us at a conference and are like, so-and-so has got incredible technique. They do all my demos. And when you're a freshman, that's incredible. And so I want to thank you to all the college coaches that stayed in touch with us when we were in the private sector, because that really helped us and it helped them.

[00:34:30.99] So when you were talking about all the struggles that they have, I was like, man, at the stage of life we're at, I'm like, I'd love to be back on the meal plan.

[00:34:38.87] [LAUGHTER]

[00:34:40.82] A dorm room the size of a closet? That's less to clean up.

[00:34:44.17] Yeah, I don't necessarily want that, but the meal plan, man, I miss that. So here's another one for you guys. You guys are both very talented strength and conditioning coaches. Let's talk about the field here. What are some areas that maybe you have a different philosophy or different approach that maybe you take work home with you and have conversations in the car or whatever it is that you kind of have a little debate going on?

[00:35:13.99] Do you want to start this, Mary Kate?

[00:35:15.61] I gotta think about it for a second.

[00:35:18.25] So let me clarify, Eric. These are dinner table conversations we have?

[00:35:23.90] Where we don't agree.

[00:35:24.97] Where we don't agree, right?

[00:35:25.96] Yeah. Strength and conditioning focus. We'll leave the other stuff for you guys.

[00:35:30.91] I mean, this is a silly one, but the first thing that pops into my head is stance on overhead presses. Is it a split stance or a parallel stance? And I can remember us arguing about this when we first got to RYPT, because we had to decide at RYPT, how do you stand when you overhead press? And that's such a little piece, but it matters. And we had two different opinions on that.

[00:35:54.61] I think card template. He's much more-- he wants it colored and fancy and I want it to be very clear and clean cut. I'm not saying my borders are messed up or anything.

[00:36:07.00] You're more the calendar at home, the color coded?

[00:36:10.60] No, I just, I need it clean cut and efficient. But I don't need the glitter and the colors and all that stuff. Where Adam really likes that stuff.

[00:36:22.25] Well, we haven't had color ink in about three years.

[00:36:24.83] But if we did, you would use it.

[00:36:25.88] Back in the day, oh yeah.

[00:36:26.76] You would use it.

[00:36:27.85] Actually, so this is a good one. Something that working with PN and behavior change overall and just as I've gotten older, I've gotten better at, and it's something obviously Mary Kate has helped with, but being OK with being OK. And I think I have always had a tendency of not recognizing what we call the bright spots and to celebrate the progress wins. Because Eric, as you know, being the professional level, it's great, what have you done for me lately? And great, that was awesome, but what are you going to do next?

[00:36:57.87] And so I remember very early on of especially with staff development, because one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was when I was a graduate assistant and my boss at the time, Frank Wintrich, who's at UCLA, said act as if. Act as if you are an assistant if you're a GA. Act as a head coach if you're an assistant. And so I had always put the gas pedal down to the floor and said, OK, great, but what's next? How are you going to do that better?

[00:37:23.69] And so Mary Kate came from a little bit of a different background, a little bit more encouraging, a little bit more, hey, let's take a time out and celebrate the progress that we've made. And obviously, I've gotten much better at that. But I remember definitely early on we're talking about interns and how come this person is not getting that or they could be doing better. And she was always the one to be like, hey, look in the rear view mirror. See how far they've come already. So marrying a coach makes you better. Coaches need coaches, as we know, right?

[00:37:47.63] That's awesome. That's great. So shift gears for a second. You guys are very well read in the field. And we've talked about a lot of mentors and people that have influenced you. But talk about some books and websites, resources that you guys dig for them to kind of sharpen the sword, so to speak.

[00:38:08.65] This is totally you.

[00:38:10.84] Well, we'll preface this by saying when you do a PhD, the amount of professional development you get already from the network of articles you have to read is incredible. But yeah, if we are not doing that, a lot of the recent work I've tried to read cover to cover, obviously in between articles and whatnot, but David Epstein's Range lately has been a game changer in terms of I think which has helped going back into specialization for years.

[00:38:43.02] And this was actually one of the best pieces of advice I gave for many years as a young coach. Be the coach that people want to hire. Now we have technology. We need a sports science expert. We need a nutrition coach. We need a FMS corrective coach. We need a VBT coach. And I would say a coach, but a skill set. And now I look at it as be the coach that can do a lot of many things.

[00:39:07.02] And you can do them very well. But it gives you that perspective, and that's what David talks about, of solving a specialized problem from a generalist view. And that's something I've really taken on as I have experience in nutrition coaching and strength conditioning and running a business and now sports psychology. So I would definitely recommend that.

[00:39:24.48] Working behavior change, we're talking about books, anything from the Heath brothers and Switch and Make It Stick. James Clear, Atomic Habits. John Berardi's latest, Change Maker. We're looking at these components. The Power of Moments. I mean, incredible that we had our graduate assistants read this past summer about the opportunity and the ability to create these moments that people will remember and move forward accordingly. So those are some of the books that I've gone through. And when we do get a vacation and we're not working on a finals project, I'm getting into it.

[00:39:57.78] Yeah, I'd definitely say I'm very much-- I read a lot of research right now. So I'm a little pulled away from books. I am for my facilities management class, rather in the past they've read two or three different books about managing strength and conditioning facilities or sports performance facilities or personal training facilities.

[00:40:15.96] I've decided to go the podcast route with that, which I think is going to be pretty unique. They have to listen to five different podcast episodes throughout the course and write reflections, and then we're going to have discussions on them. So right now I'm spending a lot of time listening to various podcasts trying to select out the best podcasts to be offered. And not just the podcast, but the podcast with this guest that I think will provide my students with a lot of information.

[00:40:41.43] And really, I mean, I'm such a big podcast fan, because I think I can listen to a podcast with one headphone in my ear while I'm cooking dinner. I can do it while I'm driving. There's so many ways for me as a busy professional to consume information through a podcast. And I kind of want to share that with my students and have them to start really expanding where they're getting information from. Because again, this is something they can do while they're driving or while they're working out or something else like that.

[00:41:10.53] Yeah, I totally agree with that on the podcast. I know personally so I've gotten into velocity based training a lot over the last few years. And so I listen to I feel like every Dr. Bryan Mann podcast out there, and I feel like it really connects you to the person. You hear their voice.

[00:41:29.07] So funny story. A few weeks ago, for the first time I got on the phone with Dr. Mann. And he started talking, and for a split second I'm just thinking, oh, this is like a podcast. Like, I'm-- like, I've heard that--

[00:41:43.90] An interactive podcast.

[00:41:48.18] But I really do agree with you that I feel like podcasts are such a good way to connect with the experts in the field. And I like writing too and the idea of it, but it is a little more time intensive. And there's just so much value to conversation. And just having the conversation and getting the ideas out there, and it's a little more raw and unedited, so to speak. But I just feel like that's where the real growth happens.

[00:42:19.77] So we'll wrap this up here soon, but just a quick question. What's the future of S&C look like based on your experience? You guys are 10, 15 years into the field. Where is this field going, knowing the young strength and conditioning coaches that you're putting out into the industry right now?

[00:42:39.75] Yeah, I mean, I think technology is really big right now. So making sure our young coaches are well versed in technology. I know some people think it was on an upswing and it's going to come back down. I'm not sure I believe that. I think it's going to be something that we're going to keep incorporating into our coaching, and it's something that our young coaches need to master.

[00:42:59.52] I think it's also important for our professionals to be diverse and have lots of diverse experiences. I think the field is going to start to fill up. You know what I mean? So having that ability to work with other populations is important too. And not focusing just on collegiate athletics, because there's so many things you can do with the strength and conditioning degree or an exercise science degree that I don't think you should really narrow yourself down.

[00:43:26.47] When Adam first started, he probably never thought he was going to go private sector. I thought I might end up private sector, but I mean, I trained a 78-year-old woman at one time, and I loved it. You know what I mean? So you're going to get these different people that you're going to end up interacting with. So I think making sure that you gain the knowledge that you need to and the experience to work with a diverse population I think is really important.

[00:43:50.08] And I think to add to that in terms of the diversity, we're seeing a shift into what strength and conditioning is turning into, whether that's called high performance, whether that's called performance enhancement. You see the medical model in professional sports. And so I'm not saying that we're going to all report to the hospital system. But I do believe that this shift in responsibilities and roles of performance management is going to be required more of us. I don't think the typical weights and plates and squats and sprints are going to dominate these job descriptions.

[00:44:22.63] We see a rise in high school strength and conditioning, and they're running private academies. And they're teaching as well, the teacher coach model. And so I see, yes, technology is going to continue to be not just a luxury. It's going to be an expectation. But the perspective of we're moving towards accreditation. We have to. And if we're going to continue to sit here and talk about the value of our profession and it doesn't matter because it's all about how many games you win or lose or the athletic department endowment, no, let's develop these skill sets and expect more of ourselves. And we're going to have to. And I think we're heading that way.

[00:44:58.28] So professionalizing the field a little bit more and doing the things and answering the questions. Not just posing the gripes and grievances, but actually sitting down through committees and having next actions of this is where we're going. We want to specialize, and we want to be great performance managers and coaches. This is how we have to start treating ourselves, this is how we have to start looking at the industry, and this is how we have to start developing.

[00:45:23.98] That's great. So where can our listeners connect with you guys?

[00:45:28.68] Sure. My email address, I'll give that to you right away, it's mfeit@springfieldcollege.edu. And that's probably the best way to reach me. I'll be honest, I am not great at social media. I need to step that up. But Adam is much better at it. So Adam, will you go ahead and give all your info?

[00:45:47.58] Well, I got a few email addresses. I should probably give the one I'll check the most. So that's Springfield. afeit@springfield.edu. I'm also a full time coach and curriculum developer with Precision Nutrition. So adam.feit@precis ionnutrition.com. You can catch me working with them, really changing the game from a nutrition education standpoint.

[00:46:09.90] Social media, Instagram, @aefeit. And Twitter, @adam_feits. Haven't been too great on that lately. Really sticking to the bare bones of communication as we keep our heads down through this final push. But very much appreciate any coach that reaches out, and all I ask is that you give me a little time. I'll definitely get back to you. Just other priorities at that time are happening.

[00:46:33.83] Yeah. Well, thank you guys so much for being on the show, and also thanks to our sponsor, Sorinex Exercise Equipment. We appreciate their support. Coming to you from the 2020 Coaches Conference in San Antonio. Adam and Mary Kate Feit, the first married couple on our podcast. And I really enjoyed it. So thank you very much.

[00:46:57.42] Thanks, Eric.

[00:46:57.87] Thanks, Eric.

[00:46:58.80] 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 nsca.com/membership. And to all of you listening, we appreciate your support. Again, if you like the podcast, make sure you subscribe wherever you download your podcasts from. Write us a review and keep listening in. Thank you, and I look forward to talking with you all soon.

[00:47:22.20] 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, TSAC-F, 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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Springfield College, Springfield, MA, United States

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Dr. Mary Kate Feit is currently employed as an Assistant Professor of Strength and Conditioning at Springfield College.  MK spent over 10 years workin ...

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Adam Feit is the Coordinator of Physical and Mental Performance at Springfield College (MA) where he oversees the design and implementation of the col ...

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