NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Season 6 Episode 15: Meg Stone

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D and Meg Stone, MA, CSCS,*D, RSCC*E, FNSCA*E
Coaching Podcast November 2022


Hear from two-time Olympian, Meg Stone, the first female strength and conditioning coach to head both men’s and women’s strength programs at a major American university. Stone shares her story from being an elite discus thrower towards an unexpected coaching career, with NSCA Coaching and Sport Science Manager, Eric McMahon. She discusses what she believes needs to change to further the strength and conditioning field in support of athlete health and safety. Stone also tells us about what makes the Sport Science Program at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) so unique and beneficial for students. 

The episode highlights the ongoing work of the NSCA for the prevention of catastrophic injury and sudden death in sport. You can read more about this topic in a recent NSCA press release: NSCA Reaffirms Position on Appropriate Qualifications for Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches

Connect with Meg by email at stoneme@etsu.edu| Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs and Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“But when I talk to them, I talk to them about two things, real important things, communication and relationships, both of which are extremely important in anything that you're going to do. You've got to build a relationship with that head coach and you've got to communicate with him regularly. And only then can what you're doing be successful or can you have an impact.” 13:10

“And then the hook. You will be the only woman in the country doing it and the first woman to do it. And I thought, I like the sound of that. So, really, I just launched myself into it.” 24:45

“Have you got the background to do it? Do you understand exactly what you're doing when you walk into the weight room? And how you are impacting that young person's career by what you're doing? It's a tremendous responsibility to coach, tremendous. And not enough people take that responsibility seriously enough.” 33:01

“I tell them at the very beginning of our orientation meeting, don't come here if you want confirmation on what you already know. Come here with an open mind, willing to learn and see things from a different perspective, or something different. You may get confirmation from that but come in with an open mind, willing to learn.” 41:15


[00:00:04.41] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, season 6, episode 15.

[00:00:10.52] But when I talked to them, I talked to them about two things, real important things, communication and relationships. Both of which are extremely important in anything that you're going to do. You've going to build a relationship with that head coach and you've got to communicate with him regularly. And only then can what you're doing be successful or can you have an impact.

[00:00:38.00] 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.

[00:00:48.95] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. Our guest today is a two-time Olympian discus thrower in 1980 and 1984. She excelled through her college career at the University of Arizona where she ultimately became the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, which included working with football. She was the first woman in the field to hold such a position.

[00:01:10.78] She has also held roles with the US Olympic Committee and is currently the Director of the Center of Excellence for Sports Science and Coaching Education at East Tennessee State University. Meg Stone, welcome.

[00:01:24.01] Well, thank you, thank you. And I'm delighted to be part of your podcast group and looking forward to the chat.

[00:01:32.69] I know that intro probably felt like we were just at the National Conference and where you gave the keynote presentation. It was really great to have you there and just having you share lessons from a veteran strength coach. How was that experience for you?

[00:01:50.56] Well, first of all, I've got to say I was tremendously honored and flattered to be asked to do the keynote. And I've seen-- obviously, I've sat through quite a few keynotes and honored to be amongst that group of people. When you've had Jackie Joyner-Kersee and people like that come as keynotes, to be in that group was tremendously-- as I say, a big honor for me. And particularly with the amount of time that spent going to the NFC conference.

[00:02:26.88] And I thoroughly enjoyed the conference this year, not just because I did the keynote. But I caught up with a lot of people that I haven't seen, obviously, for the last two years with the COVID situation.

[00:02:41.11] Yeah, it was a great, great showing. You had a packed house, right on that first big conference day with so many good sessions. Your husband, Mike Stone, actually presented the next day at the conference. And that was really good.

[00:02:58.34] I thought the lineup was just really strong. We had three great keynotes. Dr. Stone presented. Bill Kramer presented, as well. There's not a lot of NSCA events. You go back through the years where you really have the full lineup of some of just the top researchers over so many years. And so it was a lot of fun.

[00:03:23.01] Like I say, I really enjoyed the conference. And there were some very, very good talks this year. And I've always felt that you have a double chance, when you go to the conference, to network. First, catch up with people, what they're up to, what they're doing. And how they're working their program, how you're working yours, sharing knowledge.

[00:03:44.97] And also learning, because some of those poster presentations, with people like the grad students from Tim Suchomel at Carroll and from our students, really topnotch presentations on the research side so, really, a good conference.

[00:04:06.15] Not only that, it gave a chance to catch up with some of the vendors. You know Chris Poirier from Perform Better and John [INAUDIBLE]. All these guys that really have been phenomenal support, not just the NSCA, but sport in general. So, yep, good catch-up time and a thoroughly enjoyable conference.

[00:04:29.82] Yeah, you mentioned the Exhibit Hall. You actually had a booth there for ETSU and the grad programs, education programs that you have there. I want to ask you about your role at ETSU. Tell us a little bit about that program. A lot of great young researchers are coming out of the ETSU Sports Science program. And it's really making an impact on the field as a whole, right now. Talk about that a little bit.

[00:04:59.68] Well, it's interesting. We started the PhD program in 2012. And when I say we, I really mean Dr. Stone, Dr. Mike Stone, my husband. He has had this vision, really, most of his academic career, that we need to change the face of coaching and the way that we approach coaches' education.

[00:05:23.10] And so he presented to our president this idea of an integrated program with the Athletic department, where we come in as a master's student or a PhD student. They come in, it's like grad student, and they're assigned a team. And that team they are with the whole time they're here for the two [INAUDIBLE] are in the master's program, or the three in the PhD program.

[00:05:49.86] And it's a little bit different from most sports science or exercise science programs in that it's not exercise science. It's definitely sports science. And the reason I say that is, they are in that day-to-day-to-day-to-day situation with their team, the coach. And the way that the whole thing works is they may be in class in the morning or early afternoon, depending on the schedule that they are involved with the sport.

[00:06:23.70] They leave having had Sports Conditioning I, Sports Conditioning II, leave that classroom. And they go implement what they learned in theory in a practical situation with their team. And that is totally different. And the reason I say that is I get a lot of requests, Eric, for interns.

[00:06:48.30] Well, you can imagine it's very difficult for people in our program to do an internship because, really, they're doing an internship the whole time they're here. And it's difficult to break that young person away from the team because they're there in the fall. They're there in the spring. They're setting up the summer workouts. They've got a year-round commitment.

[00:07:12.58] So it's very difficult to get them away to do an internship. It's not impossible. They do some internships. But it's difficult. And it has to be a particular time of the year that they do that internship. Because our whole program, really, is based on an internship situation.

[00:07:32.13] Most programs, you'll get a GA, and if you're lucky, you'll get into the weight room. And you'll be able to GA in the weight room. But that's one or two people. Our whole program is set up in that fashion. In fact, two of our PhD students run the whole Olympic weight room. And so it's an entirely different program from most programs. It's a day-to-day theory and practical situation.

[00:08:02.17] Sounds like it's a fully-embedded experience, the hands on, the practical portion with, obviously, the curriculum and academic side. Where did that integrated program concept come from?

[00:08:16.67] Well, really, we felt-- and Dr. Stone and I have talked extensively about this, obviously. Living together, we talk about it breakfast, lunch, and supper. That we felt that coaches' education was not as thorough as it should be. When you go to a MGB, national governing body of a sport, and you learn how to be a coach, often it's a weekend here, a weekend there, a day here, a day there.

[00:08:49.43] And we felt like that was not comprehensive enough, that you needed a whole experience and two, three years of background, both in physiology, psychology, the whole "ologies" that you need to be able to coach. And we felt that was very, very important to be done in a full-time basis.

[00:09:15.05] And it really came from a two-pronged approach. And, Eric, we have two tracks. One track is research. And the other track is coaching and performance-- performance coaching, really. And in those two tracks you are taking some classes. You can go down either track. And some classes are totally on the research. Like, for instance, we have a statistics class in the PhD, which is done in the medical school. So it's with the medical students.

[00:09:52.17] So there's a very high emphasis on the research and stats with the performance. And there will be classes like management skills for coaching, coaching issues, those kind of things. But, depending on what track you on, you can take electives in either.

[00:10:12.53] So you end up being able to say to yourself, OK, do I want to coach or do I want to be a faculty member somewhere? You've got both strings to your bow, which I think is unique in the program.

[00:10:26.54] We're not just churning out faculty. We've got the Tim Suchomels out there. But Tim is also a very good researcher but it's also the Sports Institute is encouraging coaching. So it's a really unique program. And I must say, Eric, I'm very, very proud of it.

[00:10:49.26] I took a look when I came back and made a list of all the people that we have who are out there doing some phenomenal work. It's an impressive list when you look at people that are out in the pros. We just, three weeks ago, one of our students was hired as the sports science guy at University of Auburn. So we're getting them out there People are recognizing our program has merit.

[00:11:21.33] Can definitely hear your passion and enthusiasm for the program that you built there. When you think back to just the evolution of GA positions, young, maybe restricted-earnings type positions years ago, and how they've evolved in different areas of the field, obviously, the train keeps moving. And these positions are a little different at every institution.

[00:11:48.66] We have some international guests on the podcast to talk about their fully embedded, integrated PhD programs, maybe in Australia, where they get to work with an MGB. So they get that really hands-on practical experience. And that's where they're doing their research, a little different sport model over here.

[00:12:09.55] Like I said before, there's a lot of emerging great researchers coming out of the ETSU program. Also, coaches, just being through the coaching ranks, having crossed paths with a number of coaches up through the minor leagues and professional baseball to the major leagues.

[00:12:26.49] It's really cool to see a program almost employ that international model, in a way. In a little bit different way, but it's really cool to hear how that's evolved.

[00:12:40.08] One thing, just reading some papers, some terms that I hear coming out of ETSU are Sport Performance Enhancement Group or High Performance Team and some different works that have come out. How do you view the role of the coach within these emerging leadership teams in sport?

[00:13:00.93] Well, one of the things I always talk about when I talk to the students-- and, Eric, I'm going to say we have had some of the most phenomenal students here. And we have some really phenomenal ones at the moment. But when I talk to them, I talk to them about two things, real important things, communication and relationships, both of which are extremely important in anything that you're going to do.

[00:13:28.70] You've got to build a relationship with that head coach. And you've got to communicate with him regularly. And only then can what you're doing be successful or can you have an impact.

[00:13:41.38] Sports Performance Enhancement Team, the obvious head of that team is your head coach. Because he has the year near on what you want to do. That's why relationships and communication are important.

[00:13:57.49] The situation with the head coach is, we will do a battery of tests. And we usually do an athlete monitoring two or three times a semester. And when we do an athlete monitoring, that, the results from the testing and then present it to the head coach.

[00:14:20.18] And it's the head coach, the assistant coach, the athletic trainer, the strength and conditioning, the sports scientist that's involved with that team. And the sports scientist and strength and conditioning guy can be one and the same. So they sit down and they say, OK, where are we going with this team?

[00:14:44.26] Let's say it's men and women's soccer. We've got people who are very, very well versed with GPS. And the coaches are actually listening to the strength and conditioning. Hey, this guy is a yellow, today. You've got to watch him. He's on the bubble. This guy's field goal is green. And they're actually listening.

[00:15:03.94] And some of the injury reports that we've had in the last few years have really shown how much the coaches have valued the input on volume load of what the kids are doing and the feedback they get from that. And when they come in, I'll give you an example.

[00:15:22.72] We do a pushback for analysis. So if a kid and the review force platform will take a look at leg strength, obviously, and then we've got baseline on that kid through the push platform. And we can then assess, if there's an injury, where do they need to go to be back to where they were when they were working at full pelt?

[00:15:50.69] So we monitored it that way. We give feedback to the medical people. We have a very good relationship with the medical staff. They come into the weight room. We want them there. We want them part of what we're doing. And it's building a relationship with them, too.

[00:16:10.16] So, really, the whole idea came from this performance team idea where several heads are better than one and feeding that information into the head coach. Yeah, sometimes the head coach makes a bonehead play. And he'll go, OK. I'm not going to use that information. And that's his prerogative. But the good thing is, we've given him that information to work on.

[00:16:39.77] And [INAUDIBLE] Dr. Stone said, hey, we can't control the head, coach, nor do we want to. But we want to educate him and help him to be successful. So the other thing that we try to get across to the head coach is, we're not the enemy. We're here to help. We have the same goal as you do. We want to see your team be successful.

[00:17:01.58] And I've got to say that some of the teams that we've worked with have been tremendously complimentary of the work we've done. David Lilly, our Head Soccer Coach, my goodness, he wouldn't let anybody move without having the GPS guy there. Manuel Espinoza, is GPS guy from our PhD program. Always i good to have him. They really have, in that performance team, and realize the value of what we do.

[00:17:34.85] And even with things like stress questionnaires, we will not give out any information to anybody on this question because we feel that's confidential. It only goes to the head coach. It's fill-in the questionnaire about sleep and school stress.

[00:17:55.85] And it goes to the head coach. And then they know, this kid's on the bubble, stress-wise. She's got three tests this week. And so, if she's a little bit off, that's probably why. So we've been involved in all that with the performance team.

[00:18:15.66] Relate this back for me to your athletic career. Track and field, you probably didn't have as much access to all the things you're talking about, force plates, technology, sleep tracking, and quality coaching. Maybe it was a little different world back then in how we viewed the coaching profession. What were some of the biggest takeaways and learnings, just as an athlete, that you can now steer into what we're building today?

[00:18:47.04] Eric, I was so lucky. I was telling [INAUDIBLE] by Frank Dick, now he got me into the sport. Now, if you look, Frank Dick, is, like I said at the convention, he is the Executive Director of the European Coaches Association. Right now he is in Eugene and is doing a podcast every morning and through the Global Sports Program. And they analyze every event that went on the day before.

[00:19:21.87] They had Jimmy Radcliffe. But Frank interviewed Jimmy Radcliffe on Tuesday, talking about how he interacts with the track and field team in autumn. So I was very, very fortunate. I had a guy who was up to his eyeballs in coaches education from the day one that I entered the sport.

[00:19:41.31] And having done that, I was very lucky because with him coaching me, I used to go to coaching courses with him. He'd use me as his demonstrator but I'd sit-in on all the lectures. So all through the '70s I was not only teaching but I was learning the coaching system and very, very fortunate.

[00:20:03.75] And Frank was very-- like I said, too, at the convention, he had just started to research his book on sport training and periodization was a big part in that. He published a whole series of articles in Athletics Weekly on periodization in 1973. So way, way back I was in a structured situation as far as I needed-- I knew how many throws was I taking in the session.

[00:20:33.61] What was my volume load in the weight room? What reps and sets was I looking at? How was that being cycled through the year? So, very fortunate. And then I had a very close relationship with a guy called Carl Johnson, who was the coaches' education guy for track and field in Great Britain and also a national coach in Hammer. He coached me right into the 1980 and '84 Olympics.

[00:20:59.56] So I had great coaches and good people all around me to learn from and all the way through. I am very, very lucky that I got involved. No, we didn't have force platforms. But we could count. We knew that if you were going over 35 to 40 throws in a session, that was too much volume lowered. It had to be cut back.

[00:21:24.69] And it was just really, I guess you could say, fly a little bit in the seat of your pants and land. And as you land by the seat of pants, don't do that again.

[00:21:40.95] And I give this example to my class. We talk about overreaching in track and field and, really, in strength training. Well, when I first got involved with overreaching, I thought, what a great concept. You get somebody into a fatigued state. You back off. You let them rebound. And they rebound beyond what they were before. That's the basic, I guess, layman's explanation of overreaching.

[00:22:13.65] Well, I thought, isn't that great? I'll overreach this kid for three weeks. And I just about killed her. We realize now, through the research, and she still-- that was the kid that I was talking about that went to the Olympic trials in Orlando and New Orleans and ended up going to the Barcelona Olympics. Thank goodness she had so much trust in me. She stuck with me.

[00:22:37.83] But just a mistake in coaching because of not really understanding overreaching at that point. I took a gamble. I tried something. And I thought, oh dear, this is not what I should have been doing. Backed off, learned from that, and realized, overreaching, I can't do much more than a week.

[00:23:00.90] You talked a little bit about that, taking a gamble, just in discovering your career as a strength coach. And finding yourself in a strength and conditioning coach role, maybe something that you hadn't anticipated or planned for. How did that happen for you? I thought that was a really cool thing you shared at the conference.

[00:23:24.90] Well it was really interesting, then, when I started coaching in the US after being an athlete. I started, as you were saying earlier, as a limited-earnings coach. I was a limited-earnings coach in track and field.

[00:23:44.56] And I got called from the head football coach. Would I come to his office and have a chat? And I thought, oh, [INAUDIBLE]. You've got called for the head football coach. You think, oh, what we've done? Or what's the problem? So I went. And then he threw me a can of Coke, put his feet up in the desk and said, have you ever thought about strength coaching, Meg? I said, not really, being focused on coaching their throws.

[00:24:13.64] Because at that time-- in '88 --or was it just before that? No, it wasn't. This run by '83, I think. Yeah, it was '83. I had a couple of really good throwers on the hook.

[00:24:29.13] So I said, well, what's that? He said, well, I thought about 17 or 18 of the players have come in here. And they thought you would be a good coach. They suggested that I approach you about being the strength coach. Um, OK.

[00:24:45.23] And then the hook, the hook. You will be the only woman in the country doing it. And the first woman to do it. And I thought, I like the sound of that. So, really, I just launched myself into it.

[00:24:57.56] And they said to me, what do you think about putting a program together for the football team? And I said, well-- and I shared this at SummerStrong this year. When I approached the team-- the football team --I thought, well, I've got down linemen, shot put, discus throwers. I've got a javelin thrower back there trying to be a quarterback. I've got wide receivers that are sprinters. I've got decathelete types that are linebackers.

[00:25:24.80] So that was the way I designed the program. I knew everybody was going to score clean and bench, in some form or other. I knew that. Depending on that position specific, your wide receiver versus your down lineman, I would do two or three auxiliary lifts with them. But the meat and potatoes was squat, bench and clean,

[00:25:52.57] That's really interesting. I like that intuitive comparison across sports that you maybe just did to compare what you were familiar with.

[00:26:01.84] But sports like track and field, sports like football, there's a lot of different body types on the field that are-- and maybe, perhaps, that's why there's a lot of strength and conditioning coaches coming from those sports, because you get a lot of exposure to the bigs, the skill-type positions, and the more speed and skill elements. Yeah, I think that was so cool.

[00:26:30.27] And I wasn't at SummerStrong this year. Sorinex is a sponsor on this podcast. I wasn't there this year but I caught some of the video. And whenever you share what your squat numbers and your lift numbers were back in the day, I'm always a little intimidated by that. Now it's pretty impressive, just what you were doing at the time and I know turns a lot of heads. And you were sharing some of that at the national conference.

[00:27:00.21] I was really happy you got to be a keynote presenter of Share. Two standing ovations, obviously well deserved. Everything you've done and just the connections you've helped make in the field. It's obvious what you love. Your passion comes through for this profession.

[00:27:19.72] And one thing I like about you is you're not afraid to pick up the phone and call me with, hey, some things are going on in the field that maybe aren't going so hot. Or we still need to work on some things. What are some of the areas you're keying in on or seeing right now that you'd like to see more progress?

[00:27:38.40] Well, I think I've got a bit of a reputation sometimes of opening up my mouth and being negative. And it's not a question of being negative. I don't want to be negative. I do want to address and help people, address areas that we can improve in. And I don't think that's negativity. I think that's been very positive towards-- because there's a lot of great things going on.

[00:28:02.95] But how do you get better if you don't address the ones, the things that need to be addressed? Like I said at the convention, we've got a lot of issues coming up in coaching at the moment, particularly in the NCAA situation with this NIL and portals. And 4,000 kids in the baseball portal, where are they going to go? We've got a lot of issues like that.

[00:28:34.81] But the main one that I'm particularly interested in actually researching and taking a good look at is this idea of specialist coaches. And just what we were talking about earlier in this performance team. What are the elements that make a performance team work?

[00:28:57.16] Just for example, because it's on at the moment, world championships in Eugene, track and field. Somebody like, I don't know, who could I take? Somebody like Mu, the 800-meter runner from Texas A&M.

[00:29:16.81] What's making her? What are the elements that are supporting her? Is it a head coach? Does she have an athletic trainer working with her? Does she have a strength and conditioning coach? Are there any sports science involved? And how do they interact? And how is it affecting her performance? What's the elements that make it work? Yes, we know, genetics.

[00:29:42.04] We know this is a kid that was built to run an 800 meter. We know that. But nothing that that performance team has done has harmed her, obviously. What's helping her? What is a support?

[00:29:56.35] And it's the same in football, American football. You look at some of these-- let's say, Clemson --they've got a head coach called Joey Batson, who's in strength and conditioning. Yeah. They've got athletic trainers there. Have they got a sports psychologist working with them? Have they got a sports science department that's given an input? The head coach, what's he allowing to happen and be done with this team and now?

[00:30:28.81] All those questions, I think, are things that can move our field forward. Stilton, what is worrying me about her field is the NCAA and making some really, really detrimental decisions for sport, in general, at collegiate level, and being driven down that road by the Power Five conferences. Concerning.

[00:31:00.36] Yeah, I can see that there's obviously a lot going on with the NCAA right now. I know in our world, strength and conditioning, we talk a lot about strength and conditioning coach qualifications at the collegiate level and what the standards are, what the requirements are as a need. This has obviously been a conversation for a number of years.

[00:31:24.30] And I think, as a field, we haven't seen the progress that we would have liked to see. Is that how you feel about it? Is that the change that you're still hoping for? Are there any other areas that I'm missing?

[00:31:39.40] Yeah, no. The biggest change, I think, that we need in coaches' education as far as strength and conditioning is concerned, is the old guard. Oh, you don't need any of that physiology stuff. You didn't need any of that. Just get in there and you have two zippers up your knees, and have a gravel voice, and yell.

[00:32:03.10] That element of coaching-- yeah, that's fine, as long as you've got the knowledge and the background to be in there with the gravel voice and there's the zippers up their knees. That picture of strength coaching needs development. It needs to change.

[00:32:25.42] And, fortunately, I think it is. I think they are a dying breed. Who can yell the loudest in the coaching session? And, yeah, you need to raise your voice, but with authority, with knowledge, background knowledge.

[00:32:44.23] And many of these people that are coming up, they think coaching is a nice, shiny thing. Oh I get to go out there. And I get to yell at people. And I get to help them out. And I'm running them, whatever. I'm lifting them in the weight room. This is great.

[00:33:01.72] Have you got the background to do it? Do you understand exactly what you're doing when you walk into the weight room? And how you are impacting that young person's career by what you're doing? It's a tremendous responsibility to coach, tremendous. And not enough people take that responsibility seriously enough.

[00:33:22.45] You need, if, and I keep saying this in my classes, too. If a young person comes to you and says, help me, it's your duty bound to help them the best way you can by being as knowledgeable as you can and by being there with the art and the science of coaching combined. And the only way you get that out of coaching is to get in there and do it.

[00:33:46.84] And the only way you get the science [INAUDIBLE] is to study it. And, unfortunately, we're still not there yet.

[00:33:57.80] And I think, Eric, one of the things that shows that quite clearly, it's when the NSCA were involved with a sudden death paper. And I think we've talked about that. The sudden death paper is a phenomenal document with 10 points that every coach should know and adhere to. It was every association that has anything to do with sport was involved in picking that paper together.

[00:34:27.10] Go in and ask your head coach or any of your sport, have you read the sudden death paper? They'd probably look at you like, what? Because it's not being widely enough circulated. We haven't put it out there enough. And that's not to say those people's faults, it just hasn't happened. The right people have not got the paper. I talk about in my class.

[00:34:52.22] Every class I have, the first session we do, we talk about, who are you? How are you going to coach? How are you going to approach? OK, let's take a look at the sudden death paper and see what it says. And we don't have enough of that. We really don't

[00:35:10.23] I've talked to some of my head coaches and say, well, you know what the punishment-- oh, punishment runs are fine. We'll send them up and down the staircase like it it's frustrating. It's frustrating.

[00:35:24.65] And it's interesting because I've said to a couple of head coaches, [INAUDIBLE] look at me. I've said, you realize that in some states in America it's against the law to do punishment runs in high school? Do you realize that? Really? I mean, just be knowledgeable, get you to read. Yeah, read, get to know the profession you're part of.

[00:35:50.08] And I keep saying this to my students, too. Some are nice and all that just rambled on about honor of the profession. Honor this great professional part of--

[00:36:06.00] Obviously, preventing catastrophic outcomes, you talked about the paper around transition periods for athletes and periods of inactivity. One paper that came up a lot in 2020, 2021 with COVID, was professional standards and guidelines paper. So that kind of ties in your point about professionalism and some of the standards and requirements for staffing, and weight rooms, and safety that often get overlooked.

[00:36:38.40] I think it's important, actually, to say this. That we know that and we see these papers. And sometimes a paper gets published. It goes out there. And we process it. And then we move on to something else.

[00:36:51.69] In a profession like strength and conditioning we need to continue to be advocates for this profession. And those statements continue to be important to share. And for the new sport coaches we're working with, the new administrators, and one thing that came through on what you said is, advocating for strength and conditioning, really, as a necessity versus a luxury that some programs might have or take advantage of.

[00:37:20.76] But that's something that I know, when we get our college coaching professional development group together, that's what they care about. It's what increases the level of our positions at our institutions so that our opinions are valued. So that we're always not having to fight the same battles over and over again. And I will say, just to you, you're heard in this.

[00:37:45.60] And it's important that everyone in the field who hears these struggles, who talks about it on Twitter, or wherever these conversations are going on, knows that these conversations are being heard.

[00:37:57.99] And especially right now, I think there's a huge realization after the recent Brenner trial that there has been a significant gap in time since when a lot of these papers came out to, really, we just haven't had enough action from them. And doubling back on that is-- I think it's something we need to do right now, a real call to action for us. Would you agree with that?

[00:38:26.68] Absolutely. Absolutely. Because it's going to pick up again, Eric. Quite honestly, with the return to some sort of normality after the COVID, we're going to see some of these horrendous workouts come out of the woodwork again. It's going to happen again. And hopefully we can head it off at the pass enough if it gets out there enough.

[00:38:54.61] One of the problems I think we have is our athletic directors. Many of them are very focused on fundraising. I'm very much on the financial side. They've got, maybe, an assistant athletic director that's involved with the high performance or whatever. But we just don't have enough of what I call the uppy-ups involved, knowledgeable uppy-ups.

[00:39:25.66] And I know [INAUDIBLE], who has hammered the desk about this all the time-- rightly so --he's been a huge advocate for getting athletic directors who know something about high performance and putting a program together and what's good and what's not. And we need more of that, much, much more of that. Too few positions in athletic departments.

[00:39:51.58] You just need to pick up any journal of higher education. What are you going to see? Compliance in ADs. You're not seeing AD for high performance. You're not seeing it.

[00:40:05.66] Well, especially now. There's high performance director roles, performance director, strength and conditioning coach, all sorts of job titles out there. And someone being in a position to hire these positions, positions of leadership, positions of influence, needs to have some level of knowledge to base those hiring decisions on.

[00:40:28.02] And it goes back to what you said again, professionalism for our field. You talked about some of the perceptions, stereotypes, there's a little bit of humor to be had in that, that within strength and conditioning-- but one thing I want to ask you. You're at ETSU. It's a new generation of coach and academic that you're working with.

[00:40:51.63] Would you say that you're seeing a shift in the young coaches today, just in how analytical minded they are, maybe in their professionalism or how they're approaching the field? Do you think we're making progress there?

[00:41:07.14] Definitely. I know in our program we are. Yes, we always get the one or two knuckleheads that come into, mainly, our master's program. I tell them at the very beginning of our orientation meeting, don't come here if you want confirmation on what you already know. Come here with an open mind, willing to learn and see things from a different perspective, or something different. You may get confirmation from that but come in with an open mind, willing to learn.

[00:41:43.65] We've had one or two masters students here that want to play the system. It's mainly masters students. But there's been one or two PhDs in the last 12 years that have been the same. They are bent on what they're going to do and that's it. At least they will have left here with some knowledge about the area and what's needed to be done. Now whether they do it or not, that's another question.

[00:42:14.53] It's like your certification. You get certified. And then you go off and do these stupid workouts and nothing ever happens to you. And sometimes an academic programs are like that, too. I'm going to say there's only been one or two in the last, what-- 10 years that we've been going that I could see are like that. But you're always going to get one or two people who have got their own track.

[00:42:39.09] But, fundamentally, we've had some great students come out here. There's an example, we were talking about baseball, John Wagle, Notre Dame. He's gone from a really nice situation with the Kansas City Royals right into High Performance Director for Notre Dame. Like I said, one of our students three weeks ago just hired at Auburn for the sports science position.

[00:43:08.74] We're fortunate that those are the people out there having an influence on the field. The other people that I was talking about are still in assistant coaching positions someplace, taking orders from the head coach and probably always will be. Because they haven't got the drive to land the way we should or pick up on things the way they should have.

[00:43:33.57] Well, it's encouraging to hear that you see some progress and growth in the field. I think there's a lot of lessons and takeaways for young or aspiring coaches listening to that on maybe how to approach graduate study with an open mind, getting into the field.

[00:43:54.45] Having confidence but not so much confidence that you aren't able to learn, and process, and take steps forward so that you can accept feedback and improve from that. Meg, really--

[00:44:09.24] [INTERPOSING VOICES]

[00:44:10.30] --it's interesting because Dr. Stone always compares this field to the medical field. Many years ago when you were getting into the medical-- because that's what we do every day, we prescribe something for the athlete to do. We're in the business of prescription.

[00:44:37.03] And when you do that, and in the medical field years ago, you went and you studied under somebody. And when you thought you were good enough, you hung out your shingle. And you were a doctor. Well, strength and conditioning is still in that area. You go. You learn under somebody. You learn the Joe Smith system. And then off you go.

[00:45:04.81] That's not good enough. In the medical field, we found out that, hey, maybe we need to have an actual academic background in order to become a doctor. Maybe we need to understand what blood does and what muscle tissue does in order to be a doctor. Well, it's the same in strength and conditioning. You need to understand what you'll do in order to be good out there.

[00:45:29.16] And on that example, I think it's important to note that in the medical field where they're at today, not only do you have to be a physician and get your MD but you need a residency. Then you need to be fellowship trained. Then you need to go and be board certified once you get enough experience.

[00:45:45.57] So it shows that we talk about our field advancing and the requirements getting raised. And the competition is greater than it was years ago for coaching positions. And maybe it won't look exactly like medicine. But there's a lot to be learned. There's a lot to be learned there.

[00:46:11.52] Yeah, when you think about the medical field, too, if I have a sore foot, I go then to my general practitioner, the head coach. And I say, I've got a sore foot. OK, go see the podiatrist. OK, going to the podiatrist. He fixes the foot. Well, hey, I'm not feeling like my cardiovascular system is where it needs to be in order to run this 800. Well, talk to the sports scientists there. They'll help you.

[00:46:38.19] The analogies are there to say my being a specialist in a specialist area, helping the head coach to be successful. Sorry, I could ramble on about this all day.

[00:46:53.15] No, this is great. I like that. Those are analogies that-- they come to mind for me a lot. So it's great to hear that coming from you, as well. But really great episode, appreciate you being with us. If anyone wants to reach out, get in contact, what's the best way for them to do that?

[00:47:12.80] The best way is my email address at ETSU. So it's-- and you'll remember it very easily --StoneMe. So it's StoneMe@ETSU.edu.

[00:47:27.77] Perfect, we'll include that in the show notes. And, Meg, as always, great catching up. We always enjoy talking to you, hearing from you, hearing your stories and your perspective.

[00:47:41.46] Absolutely. Thank you so much, Eric. I thoroughly enjoyed the chat.

[00:47:45.32] Also, a special thanks to Sorinex Exercise Equipment. We appreciate their support.

[00:47:51.62] Hey, everyone. This is Strength and Conditioning Coach, Scott Caulfield. You just listened to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, one of the best sources of information about the strength and conditioning profession. If you're new to this podcast and you want to learn more, subscribe now to always get the latest episodes delivered right to you.

[00:48:09.14] 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's the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure to join us next time.

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

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

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