NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Episode 87: Kelly Dormandy

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D and Kelly Dormandy, CSCS
Coaching Podcast September 2020

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Kelly Dormandy, Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Performance at Loyola Marymount University and Head Strength Coach for the Los Angeles Sparks Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team, talks to the NSCA Coaching Program Manager, Eric McMahon, about championship culture. Topics under discussion include constantly seeking new challenges, training WNBA athletes, and being proactive about networking in the field.

Find Kelly on Instagram: @kdormandy | Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“And you have to be somebody that wants to bring the best out in other people. And I think that's when you truly realize how gratifying this field is.” 6:49

“And at the end of the day, you've got to have an unwavering determination and drive and resiliency to make it in this field.” 19:03

“I believe it's my responsibility to put them in a position to believe in themselves and believe that they're fully capable of accomplishing whatever it is that they want in life, whether it's winning national championships, conference championships as a collegiate athlete.” 20:19

“I think the biggest key is being a lifelong learner in this field, being hungry and being willing to learn from people that are in places that you haven't been, but that you aspire to be in.” 33:06

Transcript

[00:00:00.00] [THEME MUSIC]

[00:00:00.87] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, episode 87.

[00:00:04.62] And you have to be somebody that wants to bring the best out in other people. And I think that's when you truly realize how gratifying this field is.

[00:00:13.14] 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.

[00:00:23.80] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. And today we're going to do this a little different. I'm going to start this episode with an intro. I want to talk about the upcoming NSCA Advanced Periodization virtual clinic, coming in November.

[00:00:39.22] This is going to be a great event. I'm really excited about it. The speakers we have in the lineup, the topics. And I want to share that with you here today, and just talk about some of the themes that you'll see at this event.

[00:00:52.30] The first theme is this transition that we've seen in the field, over the past 20, 30 years, from linear or block periodization towards undulating or unplanned periodization. We have three former NSCA presidents speaking at this event, Dr. Mike Stone, Dr. William Kraemer, and Dr. Greg Haff. Laying that theoretical foundation for periodization, which has taken us on the journey towards where we're at today.

[00:01:21.39] And those topics will be Dr. Chris Morris out of University of Kentucky, talking about fluid periodization, and Andrea Hudy, talking about real-world periodization. In her talk, she mentions periodization is dead. Is that true? I think that's a great conversation with where we're at today in terms of the way athletes are training and the number of factors that we are trying to take account of in the training process.

[00:01:50.72] Another theme of this event is the transition from strength towards power. I think we've always valued strength as a strength and conditioning field. But athleticism thrives on power. And now we have a number of different ways that we quantify and target that in the training process, one of which is velocity-based training.

[00:02:11.82] Andrew Stuart of USA Speedskating is going to share his hybrid approach of using dynamic strength index, a ratio, to monitor and evaluate his skaters, and then uses velocity-based training as a tracking tool through the training cycle.

[00:02:34.02] Dr. Jeremy Weeks out of UPenn is going to share velocity-based training, but then take that and extend it to the field. So we're not just bringing the topic to you in the way that it always has been. We're actually taking the next step with that topic.

[00:02:48.57] Dr. Guy Hornsby out of West Virginia is going to talk about Olympic lifts. He not only is a professor and researcher, but he is a national-level weightlifting coach. And he's going to talk about how to implement Olympic lifts within an athlete's program.

[00:03:07.89] Eccentric training is another theme that you'll see throughout this event. One of the things that I think is really interesting is how do you quantify eccentric overload? That's exactly what Dr. Tim Suchomel is going to talk about in his session-- how do you quantify eccentric overload in training? And how do you know that what you're doing in the weight room is actually achieving eccentric overload?

[00:03:33.31] When we think of eccentrics, I think it brings us back to Triphasic Training. And the author of that, Cal Dietz, is also speaking at this event. He's going to be talking about the range plyometric method, and which plyometrics fit with which training phase during the macro cycle.

[00:03:53.23] So I think that is a really good tie-together concept, of not only identifying and defining eccentric overload, but bringing it back towards even the most basic level of plyometrics and how we implement that in an athlete's program.

[00:04:09.90] Some other topics-- I think this one's really interesting. Matt Wenning-- I think we all know Matt Wenning from recent years. He's presented at the NSCA, and just had some really great topics that he's shared. But this is one of the great powerlifters of our generation.

[00:04:24.24] And what we asked him to present was perspective from that powerlifting background. What can we learn from the elite strength athletes that can be taken, now, towards other sports and field sports? What do we learn that-- we don't work with all these athletes all the time. We don't work with the 1,000-pound squatters and the elite powerlifters of the world.

[00:04:51.15] How can we take that, and what can we learn about how to stay healthy under extreme load, how to progress gradually and steadily, and when we can expect to see a certain level of gains. We don't truly see that ceiling in the athletic population that we deal with most of the time. So Matt is going to talk about that.

[00:05:16.32] Caitlin Quinn, the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Toyota Motorsports. And this is really, really intriguing, sort of this concept of exertional overload and stress on athletes. So these drivers are sitting there in the driver's seat of their car, and their physiological data, as we would quantify it in sport, these metrics are through the roof. And a lot of that is anxiety and alertness, and just their level of being dialed in, that sympathetic drive that fuels success in that sport.

[00:05:52.80] Well, she's going to talk about parasympathetic practice, and how to implement that in the weight room, and why that's important to her population. Truly an advanced topic, and something that escapes us as strength and conditioning coaches a lot of time.

[00:06:06.78] And then the last one I'm going to talk about here today is Vernon Griffith. He is always exploring the corners, and really trying to expand the continuum of how we implement mobility within the weight-room setting, which I see as valuable because we become more efficient practitioners.

[00:06:26.41] So I truly am excited about this event. I really hope everyone goes to NSCA.com and checks it out, the NSCA Advanced Periodization Virtual Clinic, coming in November. We're going to take a brief pause, and then we'll be back with Kelly Dormandy. Thanks for listening to the NSCA Coaching Podcast.

[00:06:44.43] [THEME MUSIC]

[00:06:45.15] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, episode 87.

[00:06:49.10] And you have to be somebody that wants to bring the best out in other people. And I think that's when you truly realize how gratifying this field is.

[00:06:57.60] 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.

[00:07:08.23] Welcome back to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon, your host.

[00:07:12.54] Training is about setting goals and seeing them through. It's our goal on this podcast to connect with current and emerging leaders in the field and bring them right to your phone and computer. This episode is no exception to that.

[00:07:25.14] Our guest today is Kelly Dormandy, Assistant Athletic Director of Strength and Conditioning at Loyola Marymount University, and also the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the LA Sparks. Kelly, welcome.

[00:07:36.80] Thank you, Eric. I'm fired up to be here. Appreciate the opportunity.

[00:07:39.81]

[00:07:40.00] Yeah, really excited to have you on. I want to kick this thing off just by kind of digging into your background a little bit and just kind of learning your path in the field.

[00:07:50.39] Absolutely. Well, I've been at LMU, serving as Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Strength and Conditioning for just about two years now. Along with that, I am entering into my sixth season as Head Strength Coach for the LA Sparks. I had a couple stops along the way prior to those two, one of which-- or the most recent of which being USC. I was there for six years, at the University of Maryland for a very short stint of six months, and I kicked off my career at the University of South Carolina for a year. So I've been at both USCs. I won't get into the debate of which one is truly the SC or the USC. But I've been at both, and have had the privilege to be both in the SEC and the Pac 12.

[00:08:30.68] But prior to that, my real start was at Springfield College. So I'm a proud member of the Springfield Mafia. I served as a GA there for 2 and 1/2 years, and doing two summer summerlong internships with Core Performance and EXOS, which, at the time, was Athletes' Performance.

[00:08:48.71] So I think I've been in the game as a Division I strength coach for 10 years now, which is hard to believe and a little scary at times. But very fortunate to be where I am right now.

[00:09:00.18] That's awesome. I think your track record and just the number of stops really speaks to the path that a lot of coaches experience in this field. Talk about the pathway to becoming a head strength and conditioning coach and the value of those different experiences that you've had in the field.

[00:09:19.72] Yeah, I think it comes with-- anybody in the field, it comes with a lot of sacrifice. I think, when I was a graduate student, it was definitely probably one of my goals, along with a few others. So with that, I knew that, first and foremost, for me, being a female, the priority for me was to get the highest level of education. So I went to get my master's degree at Springfield, first and foremost. What I like to say is to have as many tools in my toolbox as possible.

[00:09:49.33] And then, from there, it was a matter of making a few moves. And particularly my interest has always been soccer. I played Division I soccer. A career-ending neck injury actually was kind of the reason that I got into the field of strength and conditioning. I had always done it. I started at 14 years old. But it was then that I realized, if I can no longer be an athlete myself, the next-best thing would be to train athletes.

[00:10:14.92] So along the way, I made a couple stops, had a lot of success at every stop along the way. And then the opportunity came up at LMU. And I'll be honest, at first, I wasn't particularly interested. I had a good thing going at SC. I was loving working for my coaches there. Had just come off of a couple of national championships. So things were good.

[00:10:35.68] But I realized that I needed a new challenge. And the one thing that was missing for me was I hadn't been in the director role. I wasn't in a position where I was managing people. And so I felt it was time for a change. And the opportunity at LMU arose. And it enabled me the opportunity to stay in LA and continue on with the Sparks. So it was a no-brainer to make the move. And here I am, having a blast at LMU and looking to keep this thing rolling.

[00:11:05.64] That's awesome. Speaking to your education a little bit, who are some of the biggest influences on your coaching style? And who have you sort of followed in the field?

[00:11:15.66] Well, I will say, the first person that I have to give a shout-out to is somebody that a lot of people won't know, Brian Holloway. He was my first strength coach.

[00:11:24.04] I blew up my knee when I was about 14 years old. It came after my freshman year of high school. My father made a comment to the effect of, I think you should go to strength and conditioning camp, because I would hate to see you not make the varsity soccer team.

[00:11:39.04] So that was all the fuel to my fire that I needed. So I said, all right, Dad, I'll go, even though I didn't think I was going to like it. And it turned out that I loved it.

[00:11:45.85] So Brian Holloway ran my strength and conditioning program. He coached me. He brought me on as an intern. He mentored me. He gave me my first coaching opportunity as an assistant.

[00:11:58.27] But then I had the opportunity to go to Springfield and do a couple of internships at EXOS, and AP, and so forth. So I would say I am heavily influenced by the AP/EXOS methodology. And I like to do a hybrid kind of West Side. So Brian was very similar, a hybrid style of movement, efficiency, and quality, and the EXOS methodology, along with getting strong from a West Side standpoint. So I kind of like to blend the two, depending on where I am, and who I'm working with, and what is needed in order to succeed and maximize performance.

[00:12:33.90] It really is important to be dynamic and have that huge toolbox to dig from as a strength coach. Going back, you talked about being at both USCs. But you've been part of so many championship teams, just looking down your resume. And as coaches, we're often behind the scenes, doing the work that gets overlooked. But the strength coach is a huge part of the team culture.

[00:12:59.86] Talk about championship culture. What are some of those teams-- how are they different than the other teams you've been a part of?

[00:13:07.79] Championship culture, in my opinion, boils down to championship character. It's about the people. It's about laying the ground rules for how we're going to go to work every single day.

[00:13:19.90] So I have a whiteboard that I posted up at LMU. I wrote down our weight room ground rules and conditions for attitude. It has been up there since the day I stepped foot on campus. I don't even know if Leach would take it down at this point in time.

[00:13:32.47] But for me, first and foremost, we train. We're athletes. So we don't work out. We are expected to be punctual. So my motto is, if you're early, you're on time, if you're on time, you're late, if you're late, don't bother even walking through my door.

[00:13:47.31] I expect my athletes-- or I tell them, man, check your egos at the door. Your ego is not your amigo. I don't tolerate any whining. So I don't do pity parties. I don't believe in them.

[00:13:59.85] And I tell my athletes, hey, I'm not your babysitter. So you need to clean up after yourself. So those are kind of our weight room ground rules and conditions for attitude. But our core values are also a big part of it. And number one, there's a zero tolerance policy for disrespecting our place, regardless of whoever is working with you, whether it's a coach, intern, whatever it may be.

[00:14:18.99] We try to teach them, early on, that you have to embrace the grind. This is work. And it's not always going to be fun. But I do think it'll be worth it.

[00:14:30.58] Another key component for us is effort and attitude. Effort and attitude are non-negotiable all the time. I'll steal a little bit from John Gordon. We don't want any energy vampires working with us.

[00:14:42.87] Excuses-- I don't care for them, so leave them at the door. You made the commitment to come here. So follow through.

[00:14:48.27] And then, last but not least-- this is the big one for me-- you've got to expect to win. So we don't do participation awards. In fact, our motto here is that we hate to lose more than we love to win.

[00:14:58.84] So we have our weight room shirts. And this past year's weight room quote was, "the way you do anything is the way you do everything."

[00:15:07.36] So I try to sell that to our athletes. It's huge that we, as a staff, practice what we preach. So we're all expected to abide by those rules. And every single athlete is expected to abide by them as well, whether you are a walk-on or full-scholarship athlete, it doesn't matter. If you want an entrance fee to the Passion Palace-- that's what we call our weight room-- those are the rules that you have to abide by. So it's a matter of sticking to those rules day in and day out, and not allowing any athlete to slip.

[00:15:36.09] That's awesome. That's awesome to hear right there. So your passion was soccer. But you are a head strength and conditioning coach in the WNBA. And you work with a number of other sports at LMU. What sports are you working with? And how has working with a variety of sports challenged you throughout your career?

[00:15:55.58] So I switched it up when I came to LMU. I currently train baseball, softball, indoor volleyball, beach volleyball, and men's golf. So out of those five, prior to coming here, I think I only trained two previously, being softball and beach volleyball.

[00:16:12.33] For me, it goes back to having as many tools in my toolbox as possible. At all the stops that I've been at, soccer has consistently been one of the teams that I've trained. But outside of that, I've always trained a variety of teams.

[00:16:24.54] And I think it has challenged me, but the challenge has helped me. So I've learned to program for a variety of sports teams. And yeah, it's a fun challenge for me. One of the things that I love to do is, behind the scenes, just from a programming standpoint, so piecing all the cogs together. But for me, it's just a matter of exposing myself to different teams, to different sports, to different movement qualities, but more than anything, just exposing myself to different people. I think the biggest challenge, honestly and truly, is rapport and getting your athletes to buy in to what you're selling.

[00:17:02.87] Yeah. So you have had a number of stops. And you've been through the grind so to speak. So you've had the intern role, the assistant, the head strength and conditioning coach role, and now director-level responsibilities.

[00:17:20.63] What, in your opinion, makes a strength and conditioning coach successful? Speaking to young coaches in the field.

[00:17:29.27] So I will say, early on in my career, I probably would have answered this question quite differently. I probably would have said chasing championships and winning championships is what makes you successful. But I think that's what I felt I needed to do in order to make myself feel successful and also in order for other people to respect me. But as I have evolved as a person and as a coach, I've come to realize that it's the impact and influence that I've had and the ability that I have on impressionable 18 to 21-year-olds.

[00:18:05.85] But for up-and-coming strength coaches, I think the biggest thing is you have to be passionate about it. You have to love it, day in, day out. In order to really embrace the grind, you've got to be willing to make the sacrifice.

[00:18:19.32] I lived in, I believe, seven different states over the course of my-- I think 20 to 25. Because I didn't want to pigeonhole myself. So I told myself, whatever opportunity came, if it was a better opportunity that was going to challenge me for the sake of my career, that I was going to jump all in and go for it. I think you've got to be highly motivated, and specifically intrinsically motivated.

[00:18:45.27] I also think strength coaches need to be detailed in what they do, day in, day out, when it comes to programming, when it comes to how you run your sessions, when it comes to your ability to hold athletes individually accountable and teams collectively accountable. And at the end of the day, you've got to have an unwavering determination and drive and resiliency to make it in this field.

[00:19:11.64] But truly, at the end of the day, I think, above all, you have to have this philanthropic motivation. It's bigger than us. It's about the people that you're serving. And you have to be somebody that wants to bring the best out in other people. And I think that's when you truly realize how gratifying this field is.

[00:19:29.36] You speak a lot to the non-weight-room skills and the motivational components of performance, but not just as an athlete but as a strength coach, being part of that performance team. What do you love about this field and profession? And where do we fall short?

[00:19:47.41] I think what-- well, I love the blue-collar work ethic and nature of the field. You've got a lot of people that are incredibly passionate about what they do. If they didn't love it, honestly and truly, they'd be doing something else.

[00:20:03.77] Because as you spoke of previously, we're the people behind the scenes. Were often overlooked. Were often underappreciated. So with that and knowing that, you've got to love it in order to get up every single day at 4:30 in the morning and work 12, 15-hour days.

[00:20:19.73] I think what I love the most is having the opportunity to help my athletes realize and achieve their goals. I think, oftentimes, you see that-- or at least I find that my athletes are their biggest critics and just in themselves. And it's our responsibility-- or I believe it's my responsibility to put them in a position to believe in themselves and believe that they're fully capable of accomplishing whatever it is that they want in life, whether it's winning national championships, conference championships as a collegiate athlete. Some may have opportunities to grow professionally. But ultimately, the vast majority of these athletes, the reality of the matter is you're not going to go pro.

[00:21:02.32] So with that, the skill set that we build in the weight room, day in and day out, is going to carry into whatever it is you do in life. And so it's our responsibility to set them up for success. So the best stories are, years from now, when the athlete comes back and texts you, hey, coach, remember when you said this, that, and the other, and I didn't believe in you, well, I understand why you do that now. And you were right.

[00:21:24.82] So I think the beauty of it is, now that I've been in the field for 10 years, I'm now seeing my athletes go accomplish their goals in life. And it's just a beautiful thing to see, to see that they're going out there, being difference-makers, accomplishing, and chasing greatness, and doing whatever it is they love.

[00:21:43.72] As far as the weaknesses in the field, like you said, I think, at times, you do feel underappreciated and undervalued. And that's difficult sometimes to find the motivation to get up at 4:00 in the morning, to work those 15-hour days, to work seven days a week. When you're training sports like basketball that require you to miss big holidays with family-- you know, I've trained basketball for a number of years. And at times it was difficult to get home for Christmas. I only had 48 hours.

[00:22:14.99] So those are the things that, as I get older, the things that I want to-- the opportunities I really want to have in my life. And I'm trying to do a better job of finding balance in those two things. And I think sometimes the field makes it difficult for you to balance your professional life and your personal life. But as I'm growing and evolving as a person, I'm learning how to do that better. Because ultimately, at the end of the day, I'm a true believer that you can only truly take care of other people when you take care of yourself.

[00:22:45.63] That is a great message. Let's talk basketball for a second. You know, WNBA, I don't think we've had a WNBA strength and conditioning coach on the NSCA Coaching Podcast previously. What does that training schedule and what do those workouts look like? Break it down for our listeners a little bit.

[00:23:05.16] Well, right now, it's drastically different. They are in the bubble in Florida. I am in LA. So it's a lot of virtual-- or actually it's all virtual.

[00:23:14.53] So for this year what we did was we had, like, a 60-day training camp, virtual training camp. So I used my backyard dungeon, and filmed myself doing all of their workouts, or WODs, of the day. So I posted, for 60 days straight, virtually, on Instagram, a workout of the day for them to follow.

[00:23:34.77] Now that they're in the bubble, it's a matter of just communicating player by player. Training is very different. It's drastically different collegiately than it is in the professional world for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I only work with the Sparks in-season. So a lot of these professional players go and play overseas in the offseason. So it's not your traditional programming that you would see in the collegiate sector in the offseason, which makes it difficult, because there's a lot of unknowns in terms of what they're doing in the offseason.

[00:24:03.22] So first and foremost, it's a lot of just listening to what they've done in the offseason, what they feel works for them, what things maybe didn't work for them, and how can I best compliment their training.

[00:24:15.91] So for the vast majority of our roster, we've got a lot of veteran players. So a lot of veteran players that have been in the league probably 10-plus years, they know their bodies well, they know what works for them. So I'm more or less here as a sounding board, to help complement their training to put them in a position to be successful.

[00:24:32.56] But the bigger challenge-- and the big challenge this year-- is we're pretty much playing a game every other day. So now that we've put in our work kind of in that first 75 to 80 days, from a strength conditioning standpoint, now it's a matter of maintenance and preserving our bodies. Because I'm a true believer that the teams that end up in the championship series are probably going to be the teams that are the healthiest at the end of the day.

[00:24:57.64] So how can we mitigate soreness, fatigue, for them. So it's more or less educating them on the basics of sleeping, dialing in a routine, nutrition, hydration. We're doing pool workouts, we're in the cold baths. Everything that can make them feel fresh every single time that they wake up. Because every other day is pretty much game day right now.

[00:25:22.28] Yeah, professional sports, just the number of games-- and this varies from sport to sport-- but it really does change the way you look at in-season training. I remember, as a college athlete, in-season training was just making sure you got in the weight room a couple of times a week around your classes. And it's a lot more strategic than that when you're playing every other day or you're playing every day-- my background, coming from professional baseball.

[00:25:52.35] And so talk about in-season training a little bit, and just some strategies, or maybe differences that you see from your work at LMU and your work with the Sparks.

[00:26:04.20] I would say the biggest difference is scheduling. In the collegiate sector, you pretty much know when game day is going to fall. So like baseball, it's Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Traditionally, soccer is either Thursday, Sunday or Friday, Sunday. So based off of that, you can plug-and-play your week and have a very consistent schedule. So we can go Monday, Wednesday, in the soccer world, if we're playing Friday, Sunday. So it's easier for me to dial in the programming in terms of what they need and how I can best spare them leading up to game day.

[00:26:35.31] Whereas in the professional world, the schedule isn't as consistent. Some weeks, you might have two games. Other weeks, you might have three, upwards of four. So it's just depending on what the schedule is. So it's more week by week. And then really assessing what minutes our players are putting on their bodies, how are people feeling, so that I can help them navigate best based on how they feel to set them up for success.

[00:27:00.96] I would say that is the biggest difference in the professional and the college world. And for my own personal sanity and the type of person that I am-- I'm very OCD, I'm very particular, I'm very proactive-- the college world is easier for me, which then creates a challenge in the professional world. Which I'm always game for a challenge. But I like to be able to see, week in and week out, what our trend and training trend is, in terms of our volume, and our prescription, and our intensity, and how guys are feeling, subjectively, based off of an RPE scale.

[00:27:35.16] Whereas in the pro world, one game, they feel fantastic. And then two days later, it's like, I felt great two days ago, but didn't feel the same way this game. And I did the exact same routine. And I don't really know why. So just trying to help them figure out what it is and how I can help them.

[00:27:50.91] Yeah, it's unique that you can wear both hats and do both. I think, for a lot of coaches, it's, oh, you want to go work in professional sports. Or some coaches don't want to work in professional sports, and they just want to work in college athletics. And it is really unique that you get to do both. And just that comparison is really interesting.

[00:28:10.29] And I really do connect with what you said from the professional side. Because it is such a day-to-day and individualized initiative just to get the players on the court or on the field, on a daily basis, with all the little, intangible, individual questions, concerns, challenges that pop up throughout the day. So I really liked hearing that.

[00:28:37.05] Speak to challenges for you personally. What are some of the biggest challenges that you faced in this field? And how have you overcome them.

[00:28:46.75] Yeah, I will say, I'd be lying if I didn't say that being a biracial female in the strength and conditioning field may not present some sort of challenges. But ultimately, for me, what it is and what I believe is that I set out to be so good at what I do, whatever it may be, that I can't be ignored. I know what I bring to the table. I'm confident in my ability.

[00:29:11.96] It goes back to me attaining my master's degree, doing the internship opportunities, being open and mindful to being mentored by people in the field who have been where I haven't been and who are in places that I want to go. Sarah Cahill being one of those, following and watching Andrea Hudy and people of that nature and that caliber.

[00:29:35.42] So for me, it was a matter of exposing myself to as much as possible. I intentionally set out to train as many teams as possible, for the reason that I always want to have the ability to at least have the credibility to be a viable candidate for a position. Because I can pretty much rattle off at least a dozen different sports, male and female, that I have programmed for, trained, and have been quite successful.

[00:30:04.02] So along my journey, I've learned to control the controllables. And it starts with having a blue-collar work ethic. I'm passionate about what I do. I'm confident in my abilities, but I'm receptive to learning from my peers and people that have done things that I haven't done. I discipline my dedication, day in and day out. And I'm relentless in my pursuit for greatness.

[00:30:27.49] I can't stand mediocrity. I'll be perfectly honest with you. And I don't get along too well with people that are content with being average.

[00:30:33.95] [CHUCKLES] Yeah, I like that. you know, that's something we hear so much, sitting at the NSCA, is career development and professional development are huge initiatives for us. But we have we still have so far to go in terms of advancing this profession, thinking of it-- sustainability is a word I use a lot, just because of there are so many coaches that drop out of this profession. Maybe it's lack of opportunities.

[00:31:06.41] But hearing what you said-- and I've always believed this, is that high-quality coaches will always have opportunities because of that mentality that you are going to go seek out that opportunity and find the place where you can be successful and showcase those skills.

[00:31:23.69] And really it's not about us. It's about the athletes and it's about the programs we're a part of. We want to be part of something bigger. And you alluded to that earlier.

[00:31:34.62] You know, you also mentioned Sarah Cahill. That's a friend we have in common. Springfield College, that's a network we have in common.

[00:31:43.10] Talk about the importance of networking in this field, and just sort of building that strength and conditioning community for yourself.

[00:31:52.18] I'll be honest, from a networking standpoint, I dropped the ball early in my career. And I am realizing that now.

[00:31:57.57] But networking is huge. And it's more a matter of getting out, being open to sharing your own ideas, and being receptive to other people's ideas.

[00:32:06.69] I feel like, to some degree, there's the stigma in this field that people don't want to share. Or they think that whatever it is, whatever stamp they're putting on their program, they're the only person doing it. And that couldn't be further from the truth.

[00:32:19.58] Like, there is no way I am reinventing the wheel in any way, shape, or form. Whatever I do has already been done by somebody else.

[00:32:27.98] But networking is so vital in our field, especially for up-and-coming, young strength coaches. You've got to be willing to get outside your comfort zone. Go visit other places, other people, people that do things differently than you do. And ask questions as to why. Why is it that you do this? How does it work for you? Here's what I've done. Have you experienced this or have you approached this philosophy? And how has it worked for your teams?

[00:32:57.99] I'd just be willing to share and be open to new ideas in order to develop yourself as a strength coach. I think the biggest key is being a lifelong learner in this field, being hungry and being willing to learn from people that are in places that you haven't been, but that you aspire to be in.

[00:33:16.67] You know, asking, how did you get there? What's your story? Let me hear about it. And let's see-- and let me align my path. Is my path aligning with yours, or is it drastically different? It may be drastically different for good reason. But if it's drastically different for other reasons, well, then what changes might I need to make in order to align myself to have that potential success in the future?

[00:33:40.16] Yeah. There are no secrets in this field, in this profession. In a way, I struggle with-- we want to advance ourself into a head strength and conditioning coach role, into a director-level role. But I almost feel like we have that duty to give back. Because it's been such a struggle.

[00:34:00.96] And a lot of coaches don't like presenting-- a lot of coaches don't like don't like even sharing their programs, for maybe fear of secrecy or whatever it may be. But it is so valuable when a coach comes forward and shares that experience and perspective. Because someone else is going to benefit from that. And where we're at is really about advancing the starting point for the next generation.

[00:34:29.82] You know, we can only do so much in the present moment. And we are constantly putting out fires in at our institutions, just trying to make this as optimal as possible for ourselves, for our athletes, for our programs.

[00:34:46.02] But we all have such a deep passion for this craft and for this profession. Or we would have never survived it to this point, right? Like, you know, there is that a little bit of that grind-it-out mentality that we have suffered through in a way. But on another level, we sort of really like that about this profession, that you got to earn it.

[00:35:11.91] You know, I like your advice for young coaches. And I feel like, now, we're sort of at a crossroads where things are starting to change. We have more and more technology in the weight room. Coaching roles are changing because of the integration of sports science.

[00:35:33.66] You've been at a number of different institutions. So I'm sure you've seen a lot of different things on the testing and evaluation side. What's your perspective on sort of that paradigm shift of the field?

[00:35:48.03] Yeah, you touched on it. Prior to the pandemic, we were seeing the field becoming more reliant on technology, and specifically wearables. Data-driven decisions are being made at many institutions in order to gain a competitive advantage.

[00:36:06.27] I was in a place at SC where we had Catapult. We had the ability to afford Catapult. I'm currently at an LMU that does not have the ability to afford such utilization of technology.

[00:36:19.86] It worked well for us at USC. But I think it worked well because we used it well. We didn't use it from the standpoint in terms of it determined every decision we made. But instead we created our own game plan, and then utilized the data to go in and look back to see if our game plan was aligning in the way that we saw fit, based on the conference we were playing in, the players we had on our team, the formation we were playing with, the style of play.

[00:36:57.79] So we used it wisely. But I would like to say that we didn't overuse it. So it's tough. I think it's tough in that there are certain institutions, obviously, at the Power 5 level, that have the financial ability to put themselves in a position to have their athletes tracked with wearables. Unfortunately, those mid-major institutions, currently one in which I'm at, we don't have the same ability.

[00:37:23.70] I will say this-- I enjoyed using it at SC. I enjoyed having the facility that I had at SC. But I kind of like coming here to a place where I can't rely on that, and I have to just go back to the basics, the foundational things, and get the job done.

[00:37:43.62] And for me what it boils down to is, listen, if I had the opportunity to have it, I'm not going to say I wouldn't-- I would not turn it away. If I had the financials, we would have it. I would accept it.

[00:37:53.40] But ultimately, what I believe in is that you can give me an average program, at best, that is done in a way that is detailed and disciplined in which every single student-athlete is buying into the process 100%. And I will take that, all day, over the best program in the world but you've got 50% of your athletes' hats in the program.

[00:38:18.76] And I say that to say that technology isn't bad, but in my opinion, it's more about the process, being disciplined in your actions, being detailed, having individual and collective accountability, and the way in which you consistently go about your business, day in and day out. Those are the teams, in my opinion, that I see end up successful.

[00:38:41.05] And if I think back on all my championship teams, those teams that put themselves in a position to win a championship were more willing to make sacrifices, were more willing to grind out on days where they didn't want to work, were more willing to be selfless in their actions. Those are the teams that put themselves in the position more than anything.

[00:39:02.11] But again, I can't knock the technology. But I think it just needs to be utilized in the right manner, and not from the standpoint of punishing athletes, or, oh, you're not at 90% of max heart rate so I'm just going to keep running you until you are. But is that really the purpose and intent of why you're using it?

[00:39:21.34] So I can speak on technology all day long. It depends. I like it, but I think it needs to be utilized appropriately by all members. And that includes your sports performance person and also your coaching staff and athletic trainers.

[00:39:36.98] Yeah, I mean, technology is not going anywhere. But I think, when you look at it holistically-- and not just in the performance setting. I think we're very idealistic in the performance setting, with technology, about what it's going to do for us. But when you look at it in the context of life, technology is a distraction at times, and can take away from a lot of those process goals that are really inherent in strength and conditioning.

[00:40:05.45] This is a time, especially during COVID, that we are really having to go back in time a little bit and be more analog than we really ever have before. But on the other side, we're essentially all becoming broadcasters, with our Zoom meetings, and even things like going virtual on this podcast. And you know, we're all having to sort of put our face on and get on the screen and share.

[00:40:32.08] So technology is ingrained. And I feel like that is such-- you know, the NSCA is coming out with this Sports Science program in early 2021. And it's an interesting concept, the role of technology to the coaching process, and really making sure that we get better in how we view, but also how we implement technology so that it's not a distraction in the weight room.

[00:40:56.47] And that is something-- hearing what you said comes through loud and clear that you have that strength coach mentality that you have to put the work in. The process is number one. But technology does make it easier. If it's not making it easier, it's a complete waste of time.

[00:41:16.40] So with that said, you have both sides of that equation. You know, what does the future of strength and conditioning look like? And if you can help steer that, which direction are you going to try to pull it?

[00:41:32.67] It's going to be interesting. Because the current circumstances pose a great deal of challenges moving forward.

[00:41:37.99] So it's going to be interesting to see the aftermath. Because this pandemic is changing the trajectory and the nature of sport in general. I mean, we're currently in a situation where I'm in LA County and I can't even use a gym. So we have to find ways to make ends meet any way possible.

[00:41:56.53] So I'm interested to see what the sport world in general is going to look like over the course of the next year. And I think that's going to set the tone for what we, as strength coaches, are able to do with our athletes moving forward.

[00:42:10.48] I think, truth be told, this would probably be a nice time to have technology, in that you can kind of set an honest and-- you'll know the baseline of your athlete coming in, based off of, hey, we've been dealing with COVID for the last four months. So we want to make sure that we reintroduce our athletes and re-acclimate them to training appropriately. So technology would be a nice thing to have so that you can have that baseline and be able to follow their progression over time to see how they're responding to the training.

[00:42:44.86] So I can say that it would be nice to have technology for those circumstances that this time being. But with that, since I'm in a position which we don't, we will subjectively do our PE scales for our student-athletes, just to be able to have a pulse on how they're feeling moving forward and how they're responding to training.

[00:43:05.73] But all around, it's an interesting world. You're going to have sports without fans. You've got to maintain eight-feet social distancing in weight rooms. It's going to challenge you, from a coaching standpoint, to be incredibly vocal. I will tell you that right now. So all your cues better be on point to be able to train an athlete from afar and from distance.

[00:43:27.48] Getting athletes to buy in is going to be a bigger challenge than ever. And I say that because, unfortunately, some athletes are going to have the ability to more easily opt out of training because of the current circumstances. But it gives you the opportunity to really hone in on the athletes that are dialed in 100% and want to maximize their performance and set themselves up to be successful.

[00:43:56.47] So it's going to be-- it's an interesting time. That I will say.

[00:44:00.36] I try to remind myself that, when you look at the technology that's available, it's first and foremost a communication tool. So if it's not improving that communication with your athletes and the coaches-- and you know, it holds us accountable in a way. Because now everything's recorded, and out there on the internet, and being pushed around.

[00:44:21.84] So hearing yourself speak and present, and wow, that's what I look like when I do that? It's a little bit of a gut-check for us coaches. But it goes back to putting ourselves out there, sharing, being open to give back to coaches in the field, giving athletes that we work with. That's such a powerful message for our coaches, is the need to communicate and the importance of communication skills. And

[00:44:51.75] There's so many coaches presenting nowadays that are emphasizing those-- call them the soft skills of strength and conditioning. But truly they are the hard skills. They're the skills that aren't in the essentials text.

[00:45:05.37] And just hearing you speak, and your energy and your passion for the craft and in your journey, I can tell that those personal and motivational skills are really important to what you do.

[00:45:21.18] So how can our listeners connect with you? What's the best way to get in contact?

[00:45:28.35] Well, I believe you can find me on Instagram at @kdormandy, D-o-r-m-a-n-d-y. Otherwise, you can email me at Kelly.Dormandy@LMU.edu.

[00:45:44.92] Kelly Dormandy, thanks for being on the podcast. It was great connecting. And always enjoy connecting with coaches out there.

[00:45:54.55] Our first look into the WNBA, but also all of your work and your path to this point. So thanks for being on the show.

[00:46:03.26] Appreciate you having me. To everybody out there, stay safe, stay sane, but stay strong.

[00:46:08.63] Also, to our listeners, thanks for tuning in. We'd also like to thank Sorinex Exercise Equipment, our sponsor. We appreciate their support.

[00:46:18.04] And if you're engaged on social media, a lot like me, you'll also need to check out NSCA's Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 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.

[00:46:35.52] [THEME MUSIC]

[00:46:36.30] This was the NSCA's Coaching Podcast. The National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 by strength and conditioning coaches to share information, resources, and help advance the profession. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA is the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure to join us next time.

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

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

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

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

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Kelly Dormandy currently serves as Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Performance at Loyola Marymount University where she oversees all 22 sports ...

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