NSCA’s Coaching Podcast Special Episode – Defining Excellence in Coaching with Marquis Johnson and Bryan Doo

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D, Jonathan Jost, MS, CSCS, RSCC*E, Marquis Johnson, CSCS, and Bryan Doo, CSCS
Coaching Podcast December 2022


Marquis Johnson, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Minnesota Vikings National Football League (NFL) team, and Bryan Doo, former Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Boston Celtics National Basketball Association (NBA) team and owner of Optimal Fitness, join as guests with the NSCA Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, Eric McMahon. Also returning for this Gatorade Performance Partner collaboration episode is guest co-host Jon Jost, a 27-year veteran college strength and conditioning coach and the Team Sports Manager for Gatorade. Join this fun group of strength and conditioning coaches from across the industry as they discuss what it means to be successful, as well as how they are reshaping the different career paths within the field. 

Connect with Marquis on Instagram: @quis_fit| Reach Bryan on Instagram: @bdoostrength or Twitter: @bdoo22 | Email Jon at: jonathan.jost@pepsico.com | Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

To learn more and join the Gatorade Performance Partner Community, visit GatoradePerformancePartner.com.

Show Notes

“Your teams have to win. But also being a good person, doing your job, being a good communicator, creating a good culture and creating a good environment where your athletes and the people people that work-- that your athletes want to thrive in and be successful in, and also being somebody that you're a person that the people you work with want to be around as well.” 3:01

“And I said, got be honest, I don't really believe in luck. I said I believe you create your own luck.” 16:22

“Any time I'm around people, I never know who I'm going to meet and when I'm going to meet them. So I try to be presentable, watch my language, stuff like that.” 24:05

“When you talk about progressive overload, and improving speed, and power, there are some principles that are embedded in science that haven't changed, which I think is really good.” 35:38

“But if you find the right network of people-- I think that's been successful for me, is just finding the right network of people. In that way, I can just get good information for everyone, because I don't know everything.” 42:30


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]

[00:00:04.30] Welcome to this special edition episode of the NSCA Coaching Podcast.

[00:00:09.46] Doing your job, being a good communicator, creating a good culture and creating a good environment where your athletes and people that work-- that your athletes want to thrive in and be successful in, and also being somebody that you're a person that the people you work with want to be around as well.

[00:00:23.53] [MUSIC PLAYING]

[00:00:25.68] 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.

[00:00:36.48] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. Today, we have another Gatorade Performance Partner Collaboration episode. We're joined back with co-host Jon Jost. Jon, welcome back.

[00:00:49.85] Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you. Always enjoy the podcast.

[00:00:54.71] We've done this a few times now. And our guest today-- we have Bryan Doo back with us, coming from the Northeast. Bryan, welcome

[00:01:02.99] Thanks. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it. Like talking to you guys.

[00:01:05.96] And Marquis Johnson, the assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Minnesota Vikings. I know you're joining us. It's the middle of the season, so appreciate you taking the time.

[00:01:15.83] No problem. Look forward to it. Let's do it.

[00:01:18.23] Yeah. So today, we are talking about defining the strength coach career. What does that mean? We want to get to, what does success look like in this profession?

[00:01:29.49] How do we define success as strength and conditioning professionals? Bryan, why don't you kick this thing off. How do you look at success as a strength and conditioning coach?

[00:01:38.96] So I look at it a couple of different ways. First off and foremost, I think success is defined by how your peers and the athletes or the people you work with view you. I think that is the big indicator of how good or how well you do your job, or how well you can communicate what you're trying to get across.

[00:01:57.56] I know that people will think you won a championship. That's obviously success. But if people don't respect you, or people in the field don't look to you as somebody they can talk to, someone that they can learn from, or even someone that you can reach out to out there, then I think that, to me, is really a big misstep. And then obviously, the athletes-- if they don't look at you like they can call you at any point, or if they don't look at you like, hey man, this guy's got my back, this guy knows what he's talking about, or if you're threatened by other outside trainers and stuff, like that person would be like, hey, I'm seeing somebody else during the summer-- great.

[00:02:29.54] Let's talk with him. Let's get it figured out. They look you as an ally versus an enemy. And I think that, to me, defines my career, at least. And I think in our field.

[00:02:39.92] That's awesome. Yeah. What I'm hearing is being approachable is an important part of really your reputation, how you're perceived by the athletes you're working with. Marquis, what do you think, man? How do you define success in this field?

[00:02:52.61] I find success in this field to be very similar to what Bryan said. I think that Ozzie, like you said, wins and losses. Let's just keep that out there.

[00:03:01.91] Your teams have to win. But also being a good person, doing your job, being a good communicator, creating a good culture and creating a good environment where your athletes and the people people that work-- that your athletes want to thrive in and be successful in, and also being somebody that you're a person that the people you work with want to be around as well. So I definitely find success is just doing your job no matter what level it is, whether you're the intern, the assistant, the head guy, or whatever it is-- doing your job, being on time, coming in with a good attitude every day-- that is being successful. Just come and get at it every day. Come with a program that fit the needs of your athletes and just doing what's asking you to do on a daily basis.

[00:03:39.97] I love that. I think that's so important. And we're all very, very competitive, right? Otherwise, we wouldn't have gotten involved with athletics as part of our profession. And no question, you want to win.

[00:03:57.75] No question. And for me, I don't care if that's at a high school level all the way up to the professional level. That's a very important part of what we do, but it's interesting when I think about this question.

[00:04:11.22] When I left Nebraska, where we won a lot and went to Holy Cross, was my first year as a head strength coach. My first year, we only won one game. And when I look back on that time, there was somebody that had a severe broken leg. And there was success in that he came back from a severe break to where he was able to walk, and run, and jump, and then get back on the field and play.

[00:04:44.76] So you can have success even when you don't get the wins that you want. And there are a few other people that, during that year, decided they wanted to be a strength and conditioning coach. And now they're leaders in the profession.

[00:05:01.60] So I think it's really important to look at all the different levels-- the team level, the individual level, and how you're making a difference, and whom you're making a difference with because it's very easy to be in the middle of the season where you're not having a year like the Vikings are having now. Let's face it. Not everybody can have that kind of year.

[00:05:26.32] And you can still have wins. You can still have success. So Marquis, you said some really, really valuable things there. I think it's super important. Bryan, did you want to chime in?

[00:05:39.89] Yeah. I did. I did want to chime in.

[00:05:42.25] I could tell. I could tell you you--

[00:05:43.82] [INTERPOSING VOICES]

[00:05:44.26] You were chomping there and had something you wanted to add, some wisdom you wanted to bring to us.

[00:05:48.48] Well, if you knew what I'm about to say, you'd not let me chime in because what I'd say is defining success would be Jon Jost because not only do you impact the people around you, but you create a tree, right? We always look at the tree of coaches, the tree of where they go. And if you look at Jon Jost's record of trees, he's got many branches in many states.

[00:06:09.27] I've got one little limb like the Christmas tree from Charlie Brown. And Jon's over there like the great Sequoia trees out here. Your time at Florida State-- that's all I hear, not from you of course, but just from all my friends.

[00:06:24.03] It's just like, any time we bring your name up, it's only positive, influential things that you've done for us. So that's where I think define success.

[00:06:32.29] I think you did hit something on the head because Jost, when we talked about with your athletes-- because I think a lot of times in this profession, too many times, strength coaches will try to be more relatable to coaches and not their athletes. And they try to treat their athletes like less than. And I don't agree with that at all.

[00:06:50.77] I've been fortunate enough to coach in high school, college, and pro. And the athletes have to be number 1. And then success, for me, is when those athletes, like you just said-- I have a couple of kids that I coached in high school in Port Arthur, Texas, which was a very excellent job for me. And those kids are awesome.

[00:07:06.69] And now they're grown men now. And now some of them are coaching a position. A couple of guys are strength coaches, or went athletes. But positions with athletes-- I know several of my first job at Eastern Michigan-- a lot of female basketball players I coached, or some of the guys I coached, several athletes-- they coach their kids.

[00:07:25.02] They're coaching little league teams. They hit you up asking for a workout. Hey, Coach, what's that workout plan we did way back when? Those are big time success for me that made me feel some type of way.

[00:07:34.77] Wow.

[00:07:35.16] Yeah.

[00:07:36.03] That's it right there. When an athlete reaches out to you and thinks of something that you might not even be thinking about anymore, you think it's gone, but they bring that back. Hey, you did this.

[00:07:50.69] What was that thing that we did? I want to try that with my team, or with my son or my daughter. That is powerful.

[00:07:58.79] Or oh, you always really cared about this. We really appreciate that. When an athlete reaches back out, especially after years, that is powerful stuff.

[00:08:08.72] Marquis, you mentioned your background-- high school, college. Now you're working in the NFL. What was your game plan getting into this? What were your goals? What led you down this path?

[00:08:19.91] Man, I pray and I live. So like, my first job, man, I have-- my story is a little different. So I rode pedicab bikes there, and my first job was at [INAUDIBLE]. But how I got to the NFL, I rode pedicab bikes in college.

[00:08:33.47] So like, if you ever been to any major stadium venue-- and I'm from Houston, Texas. I play football at [INAUDIBLE] University, played tight end my first year there, and my last two. And on my side job, I was riding bike taxis. Like, pedaling people to and from stadiums, and arenas, and things of that nature.

[00:08:49.95] So after I got my first job at Eastern Michigan, within a couple of weeks I was working an Astro game, or one or-- some downtown event. And I met a guy named Ray Wright. He just hops on the back of my bike one day, and I'm taking him to his car, and we strike up a conversation. And I was like, hey, man I just-- and he was like-- and I was like, hey, I just-- I play at [INAUDIBLE]. He knew my head coach.

[00:09:11.06] He's like, hey, I'm the strength coach for the Texans. I didn't even know who he was or nothing. He was just a random stranger to me, and I was trying to get a tip, take this man to his car. But he left me he left me his number, and we stayed in touch. So I would go when I would come home on weekends, because my school is probably about an hour and 20 minutes, an hour and 30 minutes, something like that outside of the city.

[00:09:31.04] But I would come back to Houston. I would go watch the Texans workout, and that was my first kind of introduction in professional coaches. Now through that, I go on to work at Eastern Michigan as a graduate assistant my first-- for about a year and a half, then I got involved, had my own teams. I was obviously assisting with football at a smaller school, and then we all-- I was the men's and women's basketball strength coach work with rowing.

[00:09:53.66] You name a team, all that. I went from GA to assistant to the head guy there. Then I went back to, I got my masters in the k-through-12 administration and athletics. From there, I went back to Texas, and worked at three different high schools. I'm not going to short change on the name, Galena Park, because I know somebody listen to this, they probably want me to represent them. And I will, and I don't mind-- Galena Park, Beaumont Westbrook, Port Arthur [INAUDIBLE], I was the head coach of all three. And I also coached the defensive football position.

[00:10:21.41] And also, in Port Arthur, I was the girls' powerlifting coach. That probably was the most direct-related from strength and conditioning, your programming to success that I ever seen. You know what I mean? Because in the field of play, you can have play calls and things of that nature, and a bunch of other-- but your program has a strength coach, as a powerlifting coach was a direct correlation of success. If they hit their squad number or their deadlift number, their bench number did it. Did they do it or not?

[00:10:48.87] And we had a lot of success. And a lot of girls, they also helped out with the guys' programming, and that was a great experience for me. And from there, I go Lee Port Arthur, and I went to University of Tennessee for a year. And I went to the Niners for two years, to U of H for a year, in the XFL, while it lasted, coach shut it down. Went back to high school at Westville High School, it was a great experience coaching D-line and the strength there.

[00:11:12.50] And then I went to Jackson State, and I'm here with the Vikings, loving it. It's been a great journey, but it's still a lot of that. But the NFL-- but I-- so back to the bike job, I worked for Ray Wright, the guy that hired me off the pedicab. I met him 12 years ago. He hired me in San Francisco, and then I worked for him again in the XFL.

[00:11:32.42] Oh, that's so cool.

[00:11:35.99] What a great career path. That's so awesome, man.

[00:11:40.19] I mean, the bike taxi-- so we had Lacey Jan on the podcast a while back, and she actually applied for a lifeguard job and then got hired on as a strength coach. And she's working with the Marine Corps right now. And my first job where I actually saw strength and conditioning, I was a parking attendant. So I think is not-- that might be a whole other podcast there, like the side jobs that lead us down this path.

[00:12:07.82] Yeah, I think that's so cool. Brya you-- you're in the private sector now. You have a long track record in the NBA. Would you say your goals have changed the way you look at the field now, just based on the new setting you're in?

[00:12:29.54] I don't. I think what people don't realize is that private sector is not much different than the pro sector. The amount of people that I train that are type-A personality, that are ex-athletes that just are like, hey, I want to be safe. Hey, I want to make myself feel better. Hey, you know what? I've got this 5K [INAUDIBLE] to run.

[00:12:49.46] You know what? I just crushed that 5K. I'm going up to this master's track team. I have a guy that I trained for swimming that just finished second in the world in breaststroke. Who knew? Who even knew that was a thing, right?

[00:13:00.20] And so for me, even with my-- even some of the people the general population, it's all goal accomplishment, right? It's all feeling better. It's all how to make my life mean more, and also the quality of life better.

[00:13:15.15] And so I think that's the same thing with sports, is how the quality of my time in the NBA, in the NHL, whatever it was, how is that better, and how can I just perform at the highest level. And all these people want to do that. So I don't think it's much different that sense, but obviously the time commitment is much less, so I can raise a family. And that's super valuable and important to me.

[00:13:36.92] But yeah, in general, I think my desire to just make everyone better and make them understand, I think for me, like Marquis said, you know, I'm a teacher by nature. And so I want people to understand what they're doing. I don't want them just to listen to commands.

[00:13:52.07] You know, anyone can bark at a dog, but if you can then teach the dog to do what you want-- or even a human, you know. Obviously that's the value, is that they know, when they're taking it to their friends, they're taking it to their kids, they're going to be like, oh yeah, let's not follow those Instagram videos. Let's do this instead. Let's listen to that podcast and really get the information, so we can digest what they're really saying.

[00:14:12.60] So I think that for me is the bringing it every day to any-- wherever I am is always going to be the case. But working with New Balance a little bit, and being able to work on shoe stuff, and that impacting athletes, to me that's-- like I said, that's another thing that, again, coming back down to my experience being, able to apply that and be like, oh, that's not realistic for a shoe. Like, who's going to do that?

[00:14:34.94] And so I think that's-- I think it's been really enjoyable outside of it. I definitely miss some things of it, but the time away is definitely not one thing I miss.

[00:14:44.40] Bryan and Marquis, this question is for both of you. What advice would you have for the younger practitioners that are trying to get into strength and conditioning, and how would you-- what advice would you give to them as they look toward to their career path and their future? But Bryan, let's start with you.

[00:15:07.15] OK, I was going to let Marquis go. I think Marquis, when he was talking about his experience, I think that's a huge part-- like, just being ready to grind. I think what people don't understand is strength coaches, or even trainers, or whatever you're going to do, the hours are not short. It's an hourly thing. It's an in-person, I'm in your face kind of thing.

[00:15:26.71] And so you're going to find wee hours in the morning. You're going to find late nights. You're going to find-- you got any traditional time, you're going to try to meet up with your friends, but you're not going to be able to, because that's times when most people are doing their thing. So just be ready for that. But what I'd also say, though, that-- to people as this is, create your own luck.

[00:15:45.00] So like, people are like, oh, he got lucky. You know, like Marquis got lucky he got with the Vikings. No, no he didn't. He grinded through-- I don't know how many jobs you did there, but he grinded through everything, and probably got the smile on his face every time.

[00:15:57.63] And every person was like, how do I not hire this guy? How do I not hire this guy, and bring him into my culture, to my family? And so I say create your own luck. You know, I worked at Harvard Business School running the Wellness Program there, and one of the things-- I used to go to the classes, it was awesome. You're in here with these uber-smart people, and you're just-- and then the teacher/professor that I was training at the time, she called me and said, hey Bryan, what do you think of this?

[00:16:20.67] Do you believe in luck? And I said, got be honest, I don't really believe in luck. I said I believe you create your own luck. I said, you know? She's like, well, you mean you got this job here. And I was like, exactly.

[00:16:27.87] And I'm taking this class only, because I started training you. Not that I intended to take this class, but just I'm able to do it because of this. And if I get a job at a Fortune 500 company, it might not be the one that I wanted, but it might be another one that leads to something better than I thought. And so yeah, you can consider it lucky, but all I think is if you work hard, you do the right thing, and you're passionate about it, then you will have more luck opportunities that just fall into place. So that's how I view.

[00:16:55.46] That's great advice. I love that. Marquis, what about yourself? Advice for the younger practitioners?

[00:17:01.68] The advice I have for young practitioners, be on time. You get an opportunity, be on time, be ready to work. And I always say, like, L and D. That stands for listen and do.

[00:17:13.02] I think a lot of times that I feel like it's a lot of knowledge out there. There's a lot of smart people, and a lot of sometimes a younger strength coach can come in there with all these ideas, but that's necessarily not your role when you walk into a building. Do whatever it takes. Do whatever's asked of you, whether that's picking up towels, setting up the weight room, whatever it may be. You're not going to, oh, just because you have your certifications or whatnot, you're not going to walk in there running the show day one.

[00:17:39.43] So I think that's a big myth, what I've seen in younger strength coaches and interns, and people just starting out. And be able just to work. Just listen and do. Listen to the people above you, and do what they tell you to do, and show up on time. And don't worry about when you're leaving, because it's just work.

[00:17:57.69] Do it. Just get there on time, be ready to stay late, and handle everything else in between. Just listen and do. Not-- I didn't say think, just listen and do. That's just my opinion on that, because that was the approach that I had.

[00:18:12.03] And if you got to work-- and then I don't mind talking about this. The money's not necessarily going to always be there, in my opinion. Like, if certain condition's [INAUDIBLE] field, what you're going to hop into what you're going, what you're going to see overnight? Financial gains. It's just not there.

[00:18:25.03] I haven't seen it. If y'all have, correct me if I'm wrong.

[00:18:27.97] [INTERPOSING VOICES]

[00:18:28.92] Definitely not.

[00:18:30.18] I'm just being honest. So like-- and I don't mind telling my story. When I took a job with the 49ers, I wasn't getting paid basically enough money to live in the Bay. But I took it because it was a great opportunity, and I wanted to work in the NFL, and I'd do whatever-- I had to take-- like I'm giving you advice, I took my own advice on that. I had to do whatever it took.

[00:18:48.96] I got off that plane. I'll be-- I won't lie-- go back to the bike job. I saw those pedicabs out there, I feel like I've subsidized my income. And I'll work days with the Niners, I get off, I go hop on a pedicabs, and then I keep it rolling. And I show up the next day, just take off that pedicab T-shirt, and put on that 49ers T-shirt, and keep coaching those guys in the NFL like it was nothing, because that's something that I wanted to do.

[00:19:12.66] But shout out Lone Star Pedicab. My man, Nate Travis, I think [INAUDIBLE] knows my guy. They always do [INAUDIBLE] for me, because without them-- I always had to show love to those two guys, because they always saved a bike for me. Who knows if that night wouldn't have changed my life when I met my man Ray, and the rest is history? But to a younger strength coach, just listen to do, show up on time, and grind.

[00:19:34.26] And I can't wait till they retire that pedicab. I'm coming to watch that ceremony.

[00:19:39.02] Nice.

[00:19:39.46] Like you said-- like Marquis said, like I was in the NBA. I was a head strength coach, but I had my own business on the side. And so I'd have-- I'd be in LA, and I was Zooming like 12 years ago. I'd be in LA, I have a 6:00 AM appointment in Boston. I get up at 3:00 AM.

[00:19:51.45] Hey, what's up guys? We ready to go? Let's go. I get off a plane 2:33 AM, I'm in I'm in town like 30 minutes from my house by 5:00 AM. So I didn't go to bed. I just-- hey, I'm here, let's go, let's roll.

[00:20:02.52] You know what I'm saying? Like, you got to subsidize your income, because it's not always the best, because that's what we want to do to raise a family. And so I needed more money. So--

[00:20:11.02] Was that-- Bryan, was that really what inspired you to start your business, was the financial strain of just the profession? Or were there other factors?

[00:20:22.87] No, it's funny you say that, because I think it was-- I actually didn't know if you knew this, but I actually had my business about five years before I worked in the NBA. So the thing about it was the reason I kept it is because I didn't ever want to leave the people that I had, right? Like you find a great-- get friendships. You get relationships.

[00:20:42.61] And those things, you don't want to-- I didn't want-- I don't take them lightly. And so just because this guy is not dunking a basketball doesn't mean that my guy who had to cardiac rehab that I worked with, that guy still has to live, right. Knowing that he is not going to make it one day is devastating. Like, he's got-- one of the guys I have now has dementia now, and all this stuff.

[00:21:03.26] And so it's just like watching this whole thing happen has been painful, but it's been a pleasure being with these people, and just going with the journey, and knowing that I've increased the value of their life and their family. So I've always had that business. I've always been a grinder by nature. John will let you know that I can't never let opportunities go.

[00:21:23.39] And I never want to-- and I say this to people all the time, and I've said this since day one. I never want to give anyone excuse not to work out. Like, so many excuses to not work out. So you know what?

[00:21:33.19] I'll be there 2:00 AM. I mean, I'll be there 3:00 AM. Like, I used to work with the players 1:00 in the morning, because sometimes that's what worked for us, you know? And so it's just do what you do, and you love it so much, it doesn't really matter. I don't know, just do it.

[00:21:48.61] I was just going to say it's so amazing and refreshing that the advice and recommendations that both Marquis and Bryan are giving is-- they're basics, right? They're the fundamentals that anybody in everybody can do. Show up on time, listen, work hard, don't let your athletes outwork you. Just be a good person.

[00:22:18.18] I've always believed that if you work really hard, do your best, treat people with respect, that things work out, right? Like more often than not, you end up in a position that you never thought that you would have an opportunity to be in. Quick story, that I had the fortune of being able to work with Coach Bowden, and I would many times show up at 5:00, 5:30 in the morning, about the same time that he was showing up. And a custodian would be-- from the night shift would be leaving the building.

[00:23:01.41] And Coach Bowden knew him by name, knew his family, would hold the door open for him and stuff, and talk to him. And it's-- what an amazing lesson, right, of how important it is, no matter who you're speaking with, to treat people with kindness. And I just think that that's such a big part of success.

[00:23:25.70] I think that when you said that with Coach, about how they treated that generous interesting situation-- because a lot of times in our profession, to come up or whatnot, people try to treat certain people in a certain level a different way than other people. So like, they might not treat the janitor a certain way, but they might see the head coach and treat him a certain way, or somebody else. So in my situation, you never know who you're going to meet and when you're going to meet them.

[00:23:50.06] And like-- so like, I know with some interns, or some underpaid-- I know some people just like myself and Bryan out there coaching that you might be working at a coffee shop, restaurant, just use that as almost like interview skills. That's why I took-- that's why I looked at the pedicab like.

[00:24:05.66] Any time I'm around people, I never know who I'm going to meet and when I'm going to meet them. So I try to be presentable, watch my language, stuff like that. And just be able to talk, because if you see somebody like Coach Bowen open up doors for people, that goes a long way. But what if you're disrespecting somebody? That could be your next blessing to your next big job.

[00:24:24.98] Very true.

[00:24:25.85] I always say finish the conversation, right? Don't look past that conversation. Just finish it. I see too many young kids now, they're like, oh yeah. I know who you are. Oh, there's another guy. I see that he's got more followers than you.

[00:24:37.28] It's like, OK, cool. Guess what, though? I can open more doors for you. But you know what? You missed it. So finish that conversation.

[00:24:44.84] You know, I think sometimes in this profession, or really any profession, we think about-- we're going to start with some smaller opportunities, and they're going to lead us to bigger opportunities. And we have this vision of how that might be-- I'm working with high school or college, and next thing you know, I'm in the pros.

[00:25:00.41] But Marquis, when you talked about going back and working in high school, you were excited about that. Like, that was an awesome experience for you to be able to do that. And you-- the way you mentioned it, it was like the same level of enthusiasm that you have towards, really, even driving the pedicab, and working in the NFL. And it goes to what Bryan was saying of just having the right attitude across all areas of your life, no matter who you're working with, and not creating really a false persona around the position you have.

[00:25:37.30] Just being authentic as a coach. And that's such a valuable take away that I feel like I keep going back to it. I'm writing the same notes down over and over again. But things you mentioned, Bryan, you mentioned you get the opportunity to do some cool things with New Balance, or with the Harvard Business School. Those opportunities came from other opportunities, and those are pretty untraditional for most strength coaches. Maybe don't fall into those scenarios, but you could.

[00:26:09.22] And that's just a really-- I think it's really good for people to hear. It's not just, I'm going to start here, and then I'm going to be a head strength coach, and that's the end. There's so much more to it than that-- working in the private sector, going back, working in high school. I think that is-- that's a big takeaway for this episode.

[00:26:30.47] I want to ask you guys about some challenges you guys have had in your career. We talked a little bit about the money, and the financial strain of strength and conditioning. But Marquis, let's kick this off for you. What have been some of the most challenging parts of this profession for you?

[00:26:46.78] I know you had a lot of stops along the way. What do you got?

[00:26:49.92] Sometimes my challenge is always working with people that believe in disrespecting players for no reason. I'd say that's probably my biggest challenge, working with coaches that are yellers, cussers, and screamers that are not teaching. Those just been my biggest challenges, is dealing with that. Sometimes as an assistant, that's been just a little difficult, because-- and then when you're on the staff, when you're the odd man out on the staff. If you have a staff, a group of people that already been together, then you're-- then I come in, and I don't fit the mold those other guys, and I know me-- that's tough for me to maintain.

[00:27:25.15] I'm going to be who I am, and I'm not going to disrespect players just because a group of-- I can be by myself and be OK with it. But sometimes, that's just definitely been one of the biggest challenges. I haven't had a lot of challenges with players at all. It's been just with different-- with coaches, and how they treat players-- and different than I do.

[00:27:44.92] That's probably been my biggest challenge in this profession, because the players and stuff I work with, they're a blessing. From high school, college, pro [INAUDIBLE], I don't remember having hardly any run-ins, if with, any player. But just different mindsets and philosophies on how to treat people has been my biggest challenge.

[00:28:03.92] I think that's a really, really good point Marquis said. And it's really sad that there are so many coaches that confuse either hard coaching, or being demanding and having very high expectations, with disrespecting players. Because there is no place for that, and there are definitely-- I've been in a similar situation, where the expectation was to yell, and scream, and swear. And that that's not me, and there is no place for that.

[00:28:45.07] And you can definitely have very high expectations without that. So I'm glad that you shared that I think that's very, very important

[00:28:54.48] Bryan, how about you jump in? What are some of the biggest challenges, roadblocks that you've faced along the way?

[00:28:59.50] So I mean, I grew up in a different generation. John and I were the older generation, where these coaches looked at us as like, oh, that's a thing that we don't really do here. And so you find some coaches that are really old school, and-- you know? And I had to run it by-- I had a great conversation with a coach who I really respect.

[00:29:17.61] And he came in all blue eyed and like, yeah, what's up? We're going to do this. We're going to do a five-mile run test-- these are the NBA. We're going to do a-- yep. We're going to do as many quick bench presses as we can do.

[00:29:31.45] And he went through a litany of stuff you would do at a college level. And you know, like you said, hey, what do you think? And I said, I got to be honest, Coach, I'm not trying to cause any issues, but I disagree 100% of what you're preaching. I said, if you want me to do it, I'll do it.

[00:29:46.32] I'll back you 100%, and I'll do it. But I'll tell you what, those players are going to be hurt. They're going to be less effective as basketball players, and you can have a lot of people complaining, and here's why. And I went through, and just discussed it with him. It was great-- I really respect this guy.

[00:29:58.95] So we had a conversation. We end up not doing it. We did an interval max test, and then we did some different kind of med ball power throw, and that kind of stuff. And we did some different tests-- like he was actually open to listen, but there are other coaches that weren't open to listening.

[00:30:14.76] I had a coach tell me that you don't backpedal in basketball, and I should never do backpedaling in any of my exercises or warmups. And so we just said, look, agree to disagree, and that's [INAUDIBLE]. I'm serious about that, too, though. That's a real talk. Well--

[00:30:29.37] Go ahead. Go ahead.

[00:30:30.30] Yeah. But I would say one of the biggest things is when the front office starts getting involved, and they start getting-- they get some salesmen in and saying, hey, I got some new technology. Hey, I got some new techniques. Here, rub this oil on their temples, and then we're going to do this, and he's going to get stronger by 17%.

[00:30:49.26] And you're just like, great. Not believing it, no studies on it. Here's the research on it. So you kind of get those challenges, and then parents. Even parents of NBA players. [CHUCKLES] You have parents that just want to get involved, and just want to say stuff.

[00:31:07.02] But at the end of the day, you hold your ground, you know what you're talking about. You can-- you just explain it, and just take the time to explain it.

[00:31:13.14] You listen. I never don't listen, because I can definitely learn. But I think those are some of the challenges I've definitely faced.

[00:31:21.09] I agree with that. And I think like, man, he nailed something on the head when he's saying like another coach, and their philosophy or whatnot. I think a challenge is definitely people staying in their own lane, respecting the strength coach for what they do, and you in that position [INAUDIBLE] respect them for what they do.

[00:31:37.68] That's one thing, so like I'm not going out on the field and teaching no techniques and all that. I'm not doing that. So if I respect you with that, respect me from my realm, or what we're doing down here in the weight room. You know, we can have conversations. But if you do have a problem, let's talk about it like an adult-- like the professionals that we are, so we can just have an understanding. We might not agree, but we can have an understanding where each person comes from.

[00:32:04.21] And another thing I always talk about dealing with players, when it comes to that disrespect piece, is I like leaving players with a good experience with me, no matter they were 14 or 30-- no matter the age. Because when you're dealing with younger players-- I'm not sure the age, or who's going to listen to this podcast. So it's like you're coaching high schools or whatnot, we all had a high school coach, no matter-- and we all had one we don't like. Let's just be real.

[00:32:27.78] [LAUGHING]

[00:32:28.77] Everybody has. But just think about that time and that experience. When you were 14, you knew that was disrespectful-- you knew you was getting disrespected. By the time you turn 18, that kid is going to become a grown man or a grown woman soon, and I want them to have experience now. We can both leave our jobs, and no matter what-- and we're going to be-- if you disrespect that person, especially once they get 18, you are both considered adults in our country.

[00:32:53.44] So you can both quit your job. You're all going to be working together side-by-side. Would you talk to that person, disrespect that person the same way you will when you're quote-unquote coaching them as you are? Most people probably wouldn't. So I try to give that analogy to the coaches when they coach the kids, and especially when they start trying to undermine, or just being flat-- I'm not saying don't coach your kid hard, none of that.

[00:33:13.26] I'm just saying just don't be disrespectful, because you don't want nobody disrespecting you, or your kid, cousin, or relative. Something like that.

[00:33:20.29] Well, one last point for me is I think the other thing with the coach and assistant coach and stuff is everyone's trying to prove their worth, right? Because there's only a certain number of jobs in the NBA, only certain jobs in the NFL. And so what happens is you get these coaching staffs of like 15, and there's only 15 players. And listen, I've got some great assistant coaches.

[00:33:38.59] I've got along with all my assistant coaches after conversations. But the initial fight back of like, hey, I need them now, because I'm trying to prove my worth. And I'm like, all right, well, I just know that he's not going to be on the court if he's going to see me. So I need my-- here's my worth.

[00:33:51.38] And so there's a constant battle that way. And so as long as you can have those communications, for the people listening, with those coaches, instead of just like talking bad about them, that's like-- just go straight to him. Like hey, look, we both want the same thing. Maybe we can work together.

[00:34:04.45] Like I had an assistant coach, Jay Larranaga, that we figured out that, hey, look, you know what? We're fighting for the same stuff. We want to work together. Why don't we do pregame on the court together, and then in the weight room with you prior to the game?

[00:34:16.48] And we're like, great, and just work it out. So I think just everyone's trying to prove their worth, and just keep their jobs in the amazing NBA. So.

[00:34:29.03] We were talking about tech. We're talking about personality, kind of the rah-rah yelling, strength coach relationships, having respect for the people we work with. And it got me thinking, I want to ask all three of you guys how has the strength and conditioning role changed? We've all been in this for a number of years. Coach Jones, let's kick this off with you-- 27 years as a collegiate strength and conditioning coach.

[00:34:56.21] I know you've seen a lot-- probably seeing a bunch of staffs and programs evolve over the years. What changes have you seen?

[00:35:07.28] Wow. That's a really, really good question. There are some things that-- some of the fundamentals, I think, you can really hang your hat on that haven't changed, which I think is a good thing, right? When you talk about progressive overload, and improving speed, and power, there are some principles that are embedded in science that haven't changed, which I think is really good.

[00:35:42.98] But when I think about the other extreme of what has changed, there definitely is a lot. And the two that I think come to mind the most is how everything now is monitored. You have so much technology, and you really need to determine what's valuable to monitor. And it's very easy to get paralysis by analysis, right?

[00:36:09.41] You want to monitor everything. And that kind of leads me to what I'm going to say is sports science and collaboration. I think there is-- and there's still resistance some places. But if you take a look at the programs that do things really, really well-- and I'm going to-- we have Marquis on here with us.

[00:36:38.52] We're fortunate enough to have a team that is really successful right now. They're having a great season, and I know a little bit about what they do. And there's a lot of collaboration between the sports dietitian, and strength conditioning, and sports medicine, and sports science, and what they're monitoring, and how they're adapting to that data. I think that the collaboration and working together as a sports performance group is one of the things that did not take place, or was very, very rare. At least I didn't see it when I started in the late '80s.

[00:37:26.81] So Marquis, I'm going to kick it to you. I don't know if you're going to back me up on that, or if you have a different point of view. But I'll kick it to you.

[00:37:36.21] I think you're 100% right, especially we we're doing things here. I think that we do a good job for science-wise, and I think our head coach does a good job reiterating the message. Like, it goes from the top down, you know? Like if he has buy-in, then Josh does a great job, and Tyler does a great job, and Marquis, myself.

[00:37:56.66] And yeah, that's where science does a great job getting information. But the biggest thing I feel like with the sports science piece is people realizing how to apply it, and how to have a conversation with a sports coach. Instead of doing work that takes a bunch of hours, and hours, and hours, and nobody's looking at it, that's a tough draw.

[00:38:13.73] But you got to also-- like, whatever sport it may be like-- Bryan was basketball. I'm with football. I'm working with sports, and I work with coaches that-- they just flat-out don't listen to it. And I work with coaches sometimes don't listen to sports science piece, because they-- but I think people from our realm-- like Bryan made a great point. Everybody's trying to show their worth.

[00:38:34.94] That's a great point. So people try to make these stuff long, dawn out, but if you understand the demands of the game, and understand how to get your point across as quickly as possible so that person can get back to doing something that they know, I think you have a better buy-in to it instead of having, sometimes, some long, drawn out deal.

[00:38:52.46] It's almost like-- I'll bring his name up. I had to sell sports science one time to Deion Sanders when I was at Jackson State, and it was pretty awesome. So like I come in there, and I have this big old packet, and his assistant, she'd say, she's like, baby? She's like, probably not going to read all that. And so I was like--

[00:39:08.80] [LAUGHING]

[00:39:09.17] And I was like I was like, I'm literally fixing to walk into this man office, like five seconds. So I was like, man, I got to come with it. So I sold it to him, almost like an Instagram video, like within a minute or less. Next thing I know, Bryan was buying into it. It was a great experience for me.

[00:39:22.97] But for the most part, in a nutshell, just if you have a coach to buy into it, man, you're lucky like we are. And we're blessed here at the Minnesota Vikings. We're all top down. It's a beautiful collaborative effort.

[00:39:34.14] But if not, just trying to understand demands of the game, whether it's basketball, soccer or whatever, and try to sell it to them, and hit you a quick-- hit your points is quick as possible, and as meaningful as possible.

[00:39:47.54] Bryan, take us home on this one.

[00:39:50.31] All right. I got a bunch of things real quick, but the first one I was laughing, because as we-- this just happened the other day. I was listening to the radio and on ESPN. I was listening to a basketball game. They're like, oh, LeBron's-- no, not LeBron, sorry.

[00:40:02.81] Al Horford is going to take a game off. And it's like-- it's funny how the field has changed, because it's assumed that he's not going to play in a back-to-back versus, what, the guy is going to miss a game for rest? Like, that was unheard of. Like growing up, we never have seen a missed game, but now it's assumed. Oh, it makes sense if you look at the schedule that he's going to take these days these days off, because everyone's experienced with it now.

[00:40:24.71] So our field has changed a ton, just from that aspect of how we assume things, or how we're viewing things. I think the second thing is the toughest part, or the thing that we changed a lot, is how much we have with the players, the athletes in the off-season. So that is a plus and a minus, right?

[00:40:45.59] It's like, A, are we spending our time traveling to see them? Or B, are we trying to manage their off-season workloads? Like, is it-- you have all this technology, but it's like, OK, that's great. We did it all season.

[00:40:57.80] Now they're going to do two hours of basketball, four hours of training, and another hour of basketball at night. Like, OK, well, who's telling them not to do that? Well, none of the people that are paying, getting paid to do it in the summertime are telling us not to do it. So that's a quick call for me like, hey, no, I know-- yeah, I know-- yeah, a guy. I saw him dunking, and that was-- yep. Yep, OK.

[00:41:18.05] But those conversations, it's like OK, great, now can you just take it back a notch? Because at this point in the summertime, we're going to end up thinking about this. And so I think the whole off-season is such a big component of athlete training, and just when they get with their people. And then I think the other thing-- which has changed a lot for the positive is how easy knowledge is to find-- like good knowledge. Like, I get a lot of friends that work in the Premier League that we've worked together with. I've got a lot of friends over in Australia.

[00:41:49.73] And so information is at your fingertips. And it might not-- I might not even have to read it. Like, I used to pick up the NSCA Journal, and you know that magazine thickness. It's completely different than any magazine you pick up. I pick up a Sports Illustrated, that's not like that journal. That journal is like the dictionary.

[00:42:04.01] You know, you're like, all right, 17 pages of references. OK, let me see. Let me get through this. And you got to get-- you get to the first chart, and you're like, OK, hold on. Let me figure it-- I haven't thought about this in a while. And so like, that's great, and I still look at some of that stuff. But it's much easier if I'm like, yo, hey, what have you heard about this?

[00:42:18.93] You know, I just call some people over and say, what have you heard about this? I know you guys have done that for a little while. Tell me more about the blood occlusion. Like, tell me about that. What's your take on it?

[00:42:27.74] And so I think the information that's out there is just so much easier to receive and get. Now, on the other part of that, there's also so much bad information out there. But if you find the right network of people-- I think that's been successful for me, is just finding the right network of people. In that way, I can just get good information for everyone, because I don't know everything. I definitely don't preach to my clients to know everything. I don't preach to my athletes and everything.

[00:42:50.24] You know what? Don't know the answer to that. Let me find out. I know somebody does. So I think those couple of things are things that I think have changed for the good--

[00:42:58.73] Access to information is a big one that kind of came through in what everyone was saying. And going back to those basic scientific principles that have been the pillars of our profession for so many years, technology has given us more access to looking at those every single day. And then it becomes, how do we optimize that process just within the hours of the day? And the access we have to our athletes, that's really-- you guys really pulled all that together.

[00:43:32.25] And that's really-- those are the big issues we face right now. No, this is awesome. I'm really, really glad we got to have this conversation. I want to close this thing down, give everyone listening in an opportunity to reach out and connect with you. Bryan, what's the best way for our folks to reach you?

[00:43:54.05] Instagram is B-D-O-O-- bdoostrength-- you know, strength. bdoostrength, that's my Instagram handle that I use. I don't use my personal one much anymore. Like John, I'm trying to get off.

[00:44:05.81] But at least they can reach me that way. Or my email is bryan-- B-R-Y-A-N-- @optimalfitnessboston.com.

[00:44:14.45] Marquis, how about you?

[00:44:16.30] OK, you can hit me up on Instagram at quis. That's lowercase Q-U-I-S _fit. You you can me up on there, on Instagram, or you can hit me on my work email. Feel free at johnson-- J-O-H-N-S-O-N-- Marquis-- M-A-R-Q-U-I-S-- @vikings.nfl.net.

[00:44:38.15] Awesome. Incredible resources here with these guys, Bryan and Marquis. Coach Jost, how can people reach out to you?

[00:44:46.38] Yeah, I don't have that Instagram. I try to avoid that black hole. So one stop shop with me, though, you can get me at Jonathan-- J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N-- .jost@pepsico.com. That's my work email with Gatorade. And yeah, I will definitely get back to you.

[00:45:11.51] Always enjoy catching up with you, Coach Jost, when we do these Gatorade Performance Partner episodes. Bryan, this is the second one we've had on with us. So this was fun, and I appreciate you jumping in.

[00:45:26.70] And Marquis, awesome meeting you-- taking time during the season. I know you're a busy man right now. So appreciate you, and thanks for being with us.

[00:45:36.78] Hey, thank you guys. This is awesome.

[00:45:38.49] Yeah. Thanks, Eric. I appreciate you always summing up what I try to say in small words.

[00:45:42.96] That's funny. I try to be a really good listener, you know? Like, we always like go back to being in the meeting room as coaches. I'm like, how can I be a really good listener? And that really helps me, when I try to pull it all together. But I appreciate that.

[00:45:59.44] But yeah, thanks to everyone tuning in today, and special Thanks to Sorinex Exercise Equipment, a regular sponsor on this podcast.

[00:46:08.89] I'm Coach Boyd Epley. I'm known as the Founder of the NSCA, and you just listened to an episode of The NSCA Coaching Podcast. To learn more about all the NSCA offers, check out NCAA.com, and join us at an upcoming event this year. I hope to see you there.

[00:46:29.92] This was the NSCA's Coaching Podcast. The National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 by strength and conditioning coaches to share information, resources, and help advance the profession. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA is the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure to join us next time.

[00:46:48.49] [MUSIC PLAYING]

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

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

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Jonathan E Jost, MS, CSCS, RSCC*E

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Jon Jost has had a successful 27 year career as a college strength and conditioning coach at Nebraska, Holy Cross, SMU, and Florida State. He formerly ...

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Marquis Johnson, CSCS

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