NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Season 6 Episode 4: Bret Kelly

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D and Bret Kelly, MS, CSCS, RSCC
Coaching Podcast May 2022


Learn from a coach who took his career from working with Winter Olympic and professional sport athletes to success in the private sector. In this episode, Bret Kelly of Exos and formerly United States Ski and Snowboard, shares about his journey and the need for coaches to remain versatile in growing their professional skills in the field. Tune in as Kelly connects with Eric McMahon, the NSCA Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, on seeking out opportunities to work in niche Olympic sports, the growing uses of performance technology, and the value of building a strong support staff. 

Find Bret on Instagram: @bk_strengthcoach and on Twitter: @bret_kelly_ | Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“Offer your services. You're not going to get paid right away. I think that's something that people need to understand. And I looked at it as just more schooling really, because I learned a lot more in my internships probably than I did during my master's program because it was so hands-on. And I'm not paying that tuition.” 10:08

“You know different ways of training. You know different cultures I guess. Like, the ski culture is very different from the football culture. So as a coach, you don't necessarily know who you're going to be working with. So being that chameleon, being able to bounce back and forth and work with different groups I think is definitely beneficial.” 14:52

“It comes back to building those relationships. If you are building those relationships and they trust you, then they're going to come in and work with you as well just like your athletes would. So it's weird at first, but I think once you kind of wrap your head around it, it's very beneficial.” 20:39

“I would say one of my biggest things I got from working with the ski team was to really dive in deep with their exercise physiologist there.” 26:01


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]

[00:00:04.40] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, season six, episode four.

[00:00:09.23] You know different ways of training. You know different cultures, I guess. Like the ski culture is very different from the football culture. So as a coach, you don't necessarily know what you're going to be working with. So being that chameleon, being able to bounce back and forth and work with different groups I think is definitely beneficial.

[00:00:24.70] [MUSIC PLAYING]

[00:00:27.18] 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 in conditioning, and then there's everything else.

[00:00:37.84] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. Today, we're joined by Bret Kelly, a performance coach and the general manager of Exos in the St. Louis area. Bret, welcome.

[00:00:49.47] Thanks for having me.

[00:00:51.04] I'm excited to connect with you today. You've had some really cool experiences working in your time at US Ski and Snowboard. And now in the private sector, I think there's a lot to talk about. I was digging into your background.

[00:01:03.97] Saw you had a really versatile athletic background in a number of different sports. So I want to give you a chance to start off and talk about your role at Exos.

[00:01:14.76] Yeah, so right now, actually, over the summer, I got moved up to the general manager role here at Exos. So we're partnered up with a local hospital here in St, Louis, Mercy. So it's Mercy Sport Performance powered by Exos is the site.

[00:01:28.35] So we work right with a bunch of physical therapists, a bunch of athletic trainers that are in the hospital setting. And then upstairs and our gym, about a 5,000-square foot facility with turf. We have two other coaches that work with us. And we have adult classes, sport performance classes. Most of those are like high school kids.

[00:01:46.98] We have some youth classes, about 15 different teams that come and train with us. Most of them are hockey just because we're inside of a hockey facility. And then the big reason that Mercy wanted to partner up with Exos, to have a place to send some of their athletes or adults who are MPT and have graduated or have ran out of insurance, basically. And they can send them to a place where they can actually do some later-stage rehabs. We do a lot of late-stage rehab in our bridge classes, a lot of ACLs, but you get the herniated disk or the ankle shoulders, whatever you have going on.

[00:02:20.54] You grew up snowboarding and skiing and a lot of different sports, but that was a passion for you. And it led you to pursuing an internship with US Ski and Snowboard. And then after a short stint in professional baseball, you went back on full time as an athletic performance coach. Talk about that a little bit, your experience working with Olympic athletes. I know we're right in the thick of it right now with the Olympic games.

[00:02:48.95] Yeah, honestly, it was like a dream job that I didn't know was my dream until it kind of became a thing, because I decided to be a training conditioning coach when I was in college and go down that route. And I'd always thought about working with the sports that I had played. I think most of us naturally lean towards that.

[00:03:06.77] I was biggest probably in football. I started playing rugby in college, working with those kind of teams. And then I've actually have not worked with any of those teams throughout my career. And I ran into an internship just-- I think it was on NSCA's website. And I was looking for internships and saw one with the US Ski team. And I kind of connect the dots of my passion for skiing and snowboarding with my passion for strength conditioning.

[00:03:28.79] Of course, those people have strength coaches, but that just never occurred to me for some reason. So it was really cool to actually get in the doors. And the internship was the year before the Sochi games. So I was able to see what the prep year was like for an Olympic year, which is really awesome because you have a lot of the athletes that will move to Park City, train specifically for that summer there. So you have everybody in-house.

[00:03:50.09] The way it's set up, it's not at the Olympic Training centers like in Colorado Springs. It's in Park City, Utah. It's strictly at the skiing and snowboarding facility. So we actually as interns got split up.

[00:04:02.42] So I worked with [? Moguls ?] as an intern. And it was just really cool to be able to go with them and watch them jump off the jumps into the water in the morning. And then I did the warm-ups there and then have them come back and actually train on the trampolines and then train, obviously, in the weight room and then go eat their lunch, work with their dietitian, all that kind of stuff.

[00:04:23.61] And then that obviously grew as I got on board about four years later when I took on the role of working with US Free Ski and US Aerials. So if you ever watch the X Games, halfpipe slopestyle, so all the jumps and rails, that's all free skiing. And then aerials, they'll go off the one large jump, do usually three flips with three to five twists. They're all crazy people.

[00:04:48.27] But I got invited to kind of work with some of those athletes, and that turned into a full-time role. And I think the biggest thing that I took out of that was with free skiing being such a young sport, with a lot of kids at the time who were in their prime in that sport, it never really worked out. And it was really trying to change that culture.

[00:05:08.39] So we had really good coaches on board. Along with myself and some other coaches would help try to push that culture. And we got some of those older athletes that saw the benefit in strength and conditioning. They saw it through the lens of injuries because they were now 28, 29, which for free skiing, is a little bit older.

[00:05:24.77] And they had to use the gym to stay in there and stay in their sport. So we kind of utilized them to talk with some of the younger athletes. And now I feel like when I talk to the coaches that work with them now, it's just part of the culture. And from the time they're 11 years old going off the jump, they know that strength conditioning is part of it, and they know that the Olympics is part of free skiing. So I was kind of there right at that transition of that sport, which was really cool.

[00:05:48.60] Yeah, that's really interesting. And I liked how you said that as athletes are discovering their need for strength and conditioning, a lot of times it is through an injury lens, because something has taken them off the mountain or off the field you know that they need to bounce back from. And so sometimes rehabilitation is a bridge into full-fledged strength and conditioning for those who maybe don't have a great foundation or background in training.

[00:06:20.28] On this Olympic topic, a lot of people don't realize the level of competition that occurs in the months, years before an Olympic games. I want to give you a chance to share that from your experience. What is the typical training day look like for a US Ski and Snowboard athlete? And just how much are they competing and in the time up to the games?

[00:06:46.53] Yeah, so, obviously, everybody knows about the Olympics every four years. There's every two years. There's world champs. That's kind of that next biggest thing behind the Olympics for everybody. And then you have World Cups every year.

[00:06:59.05] So depending on the sport, they'll have five to 10 World Cups that they'll compete in. And then for some of my athletes, they had X Games as well, which, for those extreme sport athletes, that's something that they grew up watching, as that was like the only competition. So most of, them that really means more than a World Cup-- just kind of in their hearts. That's always what they wanted as a kid. So those are big events as well.

[00:07:19.77] As far as like training in the off season, how their day-to-day usually goes-- again, the way my athletes worked, and they're all acrobatic athletes-- in the mornings we'd usually wake up and go either to the water ramps or to the air bag ramps, which was all used in the summer. Through their warm-ups, they'd go and do one or two sessions depending on the day.

[00:07:37.59] If it was a two-session day, usually they'd come back and do some recovery workouts with me or even just spin and stretch on their own if they needed to. If it was a regular one day on the ramp session, they would come in and do their workouts with me, have lunch, maybe have dinner if they're there long enough.

[00:07:54.15] Some of them would be going to physical therapy just to get stuff worked on. Everybody's got nagging injuries going on all the time. So getting some manual therapy done.

[00:08:02.49] And then, again, depending on their schedule, they'd hop on the trampolines. Sometimes that's to work on some specific trick. Sometimes that's when all five of them are on the trampoline and in the skate park just having fun, because that's what they do and that's what they love doing. And then hopefully go home and go to sleep, but we all know how that goes.

[00:08:20.63] [LAUGHS] Smiling every time you say trampoline, because I don't think too often we think of a trampoline as a training device. But in some of these aerial sports, it's a huge part of the sport and just the level of athleticism required for just that kinesthetic awareness in the air. And we get to see that for most of us every four years.

[00:08:44.23] I think it's a really cool athletic community, the Olympic movement. And I think some coaches do aspire to work in that. I want to ask you about pursuing careers to work with Olympic athletes. What advice do you have for young coaches that-- how would they go about that? Or what are some of the early steps that you think would be significant milestones in being able to get into an NGB or with the US Olympic Committee?

[00:09:13.59] Yeah, I mean, most of the people that I worked with that either are before me or after me that kind of got into it, usually they had some kind of, like you said earlier, some kind of internship with, whether it be US Ski Team or NTG or something else. Especially if you're trying to work with skiing and snowboarding, there are tons of skiing and snowboarding academies all around the US. And they all usually have one string coach for sometimes a couple hundred kids.

[00:09:41.40] So I know a lot of them have internships. A lot of our interns and also the ski team started off by helping out at some of those facilities. And then they ended up working with us on the national level. And then obviously it's just at that point networking.

[00:09:54.48] So kind of like any job. Same way I got into baseball. Same way people get into other sports as well. Try to get connected with the people that are already in those sports, whether it be coaches on the field or coaches like strength coaches.

[00:10:08.16] Offer your services. You're not going to get paid right away. I think that's something that people need to understand. And I looked at it as just more schooling really, because I learned a lot more in my internships probably than I did during my master's program because it was so hands-on. And I'm not paying that tuition.

[00:10:26.34] So for me, it was a cheaper schooling, honestly. And then I ended up making those connections. I got to work with people that were way better coaches than me and kind of helped mold me as a coach and then just keep those connections going.

[00:10:39.90] I mean, like I said, that's how I got working with baseball. I got kind of pushed that way by some of my mentors just because there was a lot of opportunity there. And I just stayed connected with everybody. And just as a friend, as a colleague. And they reached back out when there were some openings. So that's kind of how my path went.

[00:10:58.27] And it really resonates with me. And I pursued professional baseball for a long time, but it was something that playing small college football, you consider, hey, do I want to be a football strength coach? Or obviously, there's a lot of great basketball positions out there.

[00:11:16.59] But baseball-- there was a lot of opportunity early 2,000s. And now you look at the Olympic movement. And like you mentioned, finding opportunities to work with these somewhat niche or unique sports, there's so many opportunities out there for coaches to pursue.

[00:11:36.58] It's just you might have to advocate for yourself and push a little bit to get yourself in the door. And it can lead to some really cool places.

[00:11:46.06] Yeah, I know with all those sports, if you look at the Olympic sports, most of them are, like you said, pretty niche sports. Those kids are training for obviously the four years before. They're training their entire lives to get to that point, usually.

[00:11:58.63] So looking at where those youth development programs are, because there's not very many of them. And if there are, they're at least connected and everybody knows each other in that community. I know people in the free ski community all across the country just because you're going to events and everybody's there.

[00:12:14.71] Same thing with the aerials community or bobsled community. There's only so many places those people train. So reaching out to those people. Most of those sports don't have a huge budget, because they're not NBA. They're not baseball.

[00:12:26.98] So they're probably very willing to work with people for free. And you can really hone your skills and then gain some experience working with those sports.

[00:12:36.49] Yeah, I want to dig back into your background, multi-sport background. We talk a lot about long-term athlete development at the NSCA. But skiing and snowboarding, it really connects with what we're talking about, because there's all these high school ski and snowboard academies out there, where being on the mountain is really part of your school day.

[00:12:57.94] And it's a really good example in place where high school strength and conditioning is very relevant and important. And it brings us to when these athletes need to be ready to go out for a national team or a college team. And so bring that to your experience a little bit in becoming a strength and conditioning coach. That whole long-term athlete development concept, playing a lot of different sports, do you think that was impactful in the path you chose?

[00:13:33.01] Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I was a gym rat. I was always in the gym trying to get better at my sports. So my main sport was football.

[00:13:41.62] Growing up, I did everything from soccer. I did tee-ball. I wasn't good at that.

[00:13:46.00] [LAUGHTER]

[00:13:47.08] And when I was in high school, or middle school, I guess, I started getting into strength conditioning just through my coaches, through football. And that was something that I always just enjoyed doing and enjoyed getting better at. And I saw how that helped me on the field as well.

[00:14:01.91] I did discus. That was mainly so I could keep lifting in the spring. And then like I said, I did rugby in college. I did swimming growing up as well. So I think all those different sports, they're all going to have different things that you're going to be getting a little bit better at that can kind of help you in those other sports as well.

[00:14:19.51] And that's something I saw, too, as a coach when I was with the ski team or with other teams as well. But skiing is such a specific sport. You have a lot of kids that grew up in ski towns, and that's the only thing they've done.

[00:14:30.70] And I would have a handful of kids that grew up playing multiple sports. And you could literally just watch them test or watch them do some of their workouts when they first come in. And I could tell just by watching.

[00:14:41.62] Even if they're 18 or 19 or 20 or whatever, I can tell this person was playing these sports growing up. This person has only skied growing up. So I think it's very important for youth athletes.

[00:14:52.36] I think as a coach, it's important as well just because you're kind of-- you know different ways of training. You know different cultures I guess. Like, the ski culture is very different from the football culture.

[00:15:03.82] So as a coach, you don't necessarily know who you're going to be working with. So being that chameleon, being able to bounce back and forth and work with different groups I think is definitely beneficial.

[00:15:12.37] Bret, bridge that so what you're doing now. Talk about your current role with Exos working in a hospital system primarily. And you work with a wide range of clients and athletes. How did your Olympic and work with elite athlete athletes lead you into success where you're at now?

[00:15:34.28] Yeah, I think, kind of, again, bridging off what I just talked about, being able to be that chameleon as a coach, when somebody is coming in, you don't necessarily know what mood they're in. When you're having new people coming in, you don't really know what type of person that is.

[00:15:47.48] So being open as a coach and being able to talk to people, I think that's something that's sometimes lost on young coaches that I've seen is that communication piece. If I can't have a real conversation person to person with my athletes or my clients, then that's going to be a hard task or hard relationship to have with them. So they're entrusting you with getting them better and getting them towards their goals, whether that be getting them to the Olympics or having them lose weight so they can play soccer with their kid.

[00:16:17.86] So to me, it's really very similar still. Everybody's coming in for a goal. And how can we almost look at that, what that goal is, and then take a step back and then backtrack what we need to do to get to that goal? So all it is kind of deconstructing what that end goal is as a coach.

[00:16:34.61] So whether that be a sport that I don't necessarily know. When I first started here, I started working with a bunch of hockey teams. I've never worked with hockey in my entire life.

[00:16:41.63] But I know what hockey is, and I can watch hockey games. And I can get an idea of what their training's like and talk to people and stuff. So we know what their needs are. We know what their common injuries are. And then build a program that way.

[00:16:53.71] So same thing when you have somebody coming in with an injury or somebody coming in that's overweight. You're just trying to build those goals up and then build those relationships I think is the biggest piece, honestly.

[00:17:03.91] I want to ask you know you've been in the field long enough and in a lot of different places. What are some of the things you're seeing in the field today that are different than when we started with this or some of the things that you're excited about that are really on the horizon that you're seeing?

[00:17:21.01] Yeah, I think as far as difference or things that I struggle with sometimes is I feel like people sometimes get niched into one specific way of doing things. And I think that's only gotten more and more niche. I don't know if that's from social media or what, because sometimes you see people utilizing certain exercises maybe because they look cool, or because it's part of the group that they're in. So if I see myself as a powerlifter, I'm only going to coach as a powerlifter, or whatever it might be, a functional coach.

[00:17:53.13] But I think being able to utilize all that stuff. So I think looking at, again, what that end goal is and then what is best for that person to do. I love doing power cleans, but I'm not necessarily going to be doing power cleans with my youth hockey players that all have shoulder injuries from getting checked at the board all the time. I'm going to be doing dumbbell jumps or something with them.

[00:18:11.77] So try to incorporate all that stuff. Everybody's going to need some type of functional movement. Everybody's going to need some type of speed training, whether that's pseudo speed training with like a mom who you're just doing skips with.

[00:18:25.83] Everybody's going to need lateral work. Everybody's going to need unilateral work, bilateral, all that kind of stuff. So I think being able to look at strength conditioning as a whole and look at what your needs actually are from utilizing that is something that's definitely needed sometimes.

[00:18:39.54] Coming out of COVID-19, a lot of coaches going through career transitions. And sometimes that includes moving out of what we'd say traditional strength and conditioning roles and the college or professional level into the private sector. I think it's actually really encouraging to see more coaches doing that.

[00:19:02.91] Not every coach goes into this field thinking, hey, I'm going to be an entrepreneur and build a business or work in the private sector in that way. And it's an area in coaching that is really defining itself. We look at some of the major facilities-- Exos being one of them-- that has expanded throughout the country over a number of years now.

[00:19:27.79] What do you think the biggest challenges are for coaches that make the jump from college or the professional level and now they find themselves in a more corporate fitness environment, but still working as strength and conditioning coaches? What are you seeing there?

[00:19:44.17] Well, I think my two biggest issues or challenges I have coming in is when I have a team, generally those people are coming in. And at least when I was with the ski team, it was like I could be working with them for an hour and a half or two hours. I know college coaches, it's different.

[00:20:00.28] When it's here, it's like a set hour. So I just got to make sure those time slots fit a little. Bit that's an easy thing to fix, but that was something that definitely was adjusted for me. Also, just the business side of things, before this, I never did anything business related.

[00:20:14.56] Now, I'm the general manager here, so obviously I'm doing a lot of sales-type stuff, which, for me, is just talking to people. So being open to doing that kind of stuff, being open to doing sales and not feeling like a used car salesman sometimes. So when I go to events, I just try to have conversations with people, be truthful with people, try to help them out the same way you would as a coach.

[00:20:38.20] And again, it comes back to building those relationships. And if you are building those relationships and they trust you, then they're going to come in and work with you as well just like your athletes would. So it's weird at first, but I think once you kind of wrap your head around it, it's very beneficial.

[00:20:51.88] And I think the private sector is definitely growing. The online sector is definitely growing. And I think that's just going to increase the amount of opportunities for coaches to make a salary that they can live off of long term. And I know a lot of coaches get burned out with hours and most salaries and stuff. And I've been there as well.

[00:21:10.91] So that's one reason that we kind of made the jump. We wanted to move back closer to our family in St. Louis. And this is an opportunity that helped us do that and help us have-- me and my wife have the hours to spend with our family and not be traveling quite as much either.

[00:21:28.07] I want to dive into that a little bit more. And it connects me personally, but I think so many coaches go through this at various stages. We get into this field and we have a lot of ideals and a lot of big goals at times to work in the Olympics or work with a professional sport or with a major college team. And life happens, right? And there's a lot of different factors that maybe you don't account for.

[00:21:53.17] And you get into your 30s, 40s, even beyond, and you start considering other things that are important to you. What are some of those challenges or conversations that you've had that really relate to where strength and conditioning could improve related to just sustainability and viability of this profession over the lifespan of the coach?

[00:22:21.25] Yeah, I've had a lot of conversations with young coaches, and even just our coaches here that I work with, about that kind of stuff. And I work here with a bunch of physical therapists and athletic trainers. And I think trying to make our profession fall more in line with kind of how theirs are as well I think would help-- I mean, we all know as strength coach, that this is a legitimate profession. But I think somebody that knows nothing about strength conditioning just see us as trainers sometimes.

[00:22:47.96] So I think being able to have some more specific and stringent protocols for testing or certifications that are more specific that everybody has to do, like, like boards where this is the standard have to do to be a strength and conditioning coach. I think that would only help the profession in the long term. I know there's going to be a lot of pushback on that from old school strength coaches.

[00:23:11.81] But I think people still work as personal trainers as well. But I think when you're talking strength conditioning for professional teams or for the college setting or whatever it might be, being able to distinguish yourself from that personal training level and that it is different. I think something like that is really where I would like the future of training conditioning to go. So I think it's going to help the profession as a whole.

[00:23:37.03] I know some of the teams that I've worked with in the past-- White Sox were really good at this-- their staff was really good at promoting how good our strength conditioning staff was and how much it was needed. And the ownership relayed that by increasing salaries and making sure people were sticking around. So they saw the benefit in that.

[00:23:57.11] And because of that, the salaries went up. Because of that, people stayed around. They put maybe more effort into it because their hours weren't as crazy. So they made it more of a sustainable thing.

[00:24:07.03] I know baseball has started going that way more, but when I was there I got lucky enough to work with the Sox it was kind of that first team to do that from rookie ball all the way up through major leagues. And they had tons of coaches that have been there for 10 years because of that versus some of the other teams that just have turnover and turnover, because they're just grabbing a strength coach from middle of nowhere. And it's probably because the owners or whoever is making those decisions don't necessarily see that benefit as they do as a physical therapist or an athletic trainer.

[00:24:38.14] Yeah. Going back, for those that don't work in the baseball world or haven't had that experience, the job of the strength and conditioning coordinator used to be training and retraining the interns in spring training. You had a one-month crash course. And you didn't know if those interns would be back the following year.

[00:24:59.44] And then you threw them out to an affiliate and you got lucky sometimes. And sometimes you didn't. And you got through the season. But we are in a lot better place now. The White Sox did a lot of great work in bringing back their staff every year.

[00:25:16.94] That was such a significant push within the game that maybe we didn't have the same types of issues in college of just a turnstile of your entire coaching staff every single year. But teams did start to follow that, and that is more of a norm now.

[00:25:38.09] It's tough to tackle these big things because we're sort of boots on the ground coaches. But in the field itself, what are some of the big continuing education areas or resources that you've latched on to that may be outside the normal scope of strength and conditioning in your career?

[00:26:01.29] I would say one of my biggest things I got from working with the ski team was to really dive in deep with their exercise physiologist there, Dr. William Sands. And he's published more things than I probably will ever read in my life. And so he was a great guy, too-- a good resource to talk to and ask questions about.

[00:26:18.23] And he really brought me and some of the other coaches in and just taught us so much about force plates and about just monitoring athletes, different ways to monitor athletes, why, what we're looking at, all that kind of stuff. So that's something I kind of latched onto.

[00:26:35.51] And I latched on to it so much that when I came to St. Louis, I bought my own pair of force plates from [? Force ?] [? Stacks. ?] So that's the cheapest way to buy force plates. And then actually, it just gives you the raw data. And then pushing out all the information over to Google Sheets and then just making it auto calculate all your information for you.

[00:26:55.70] So I still utilize that here at Exos. That's not a Exos thing. That's not a Mercy thing. That's something that I do with our bridge athletes. Something that I enjoy doing and I think it's beneficial for them as well.

[00:27:06.05] I know a lot of the physical therapists and physicians here I'll send them over the results and they love seeing that kind of stuff and because of that they've sent us more people. So I think that's helped the business as a whole.

[00:27:17.45] But really, I'm just looking at asymmetries from kind of movement jumps, from drop jumps, from static jumps. We do an ISO back squat. I've done ISO belt squats before and stuff like that. So for me, that was something that I think when I got into strength conditioning, originally, I'm just thinking strength and conditioning, and then all of a sudden, I'm doing stat work and Excel work on my computer for hours on end of the night so I can get the data that I collected or whatever, which is not something that I probably was foreseeing that my career path going down, but it's something I enjoy doing.

[00:27:47.85] It's interesting. A lot of strength coaches go to grad school and get master's degrees. And that's really the first place you get exposed to high-level research and research methods. And then you get into coaching, and those kind of fly out the window.

[00:28:04.04] You don't really need to crunch the numbers, or at least you didn't use to have that need. And now those are really relevant skills for coaches, even managing an Excel file or even a larger data set over multiple years and being able to pull the information that you want and make it meaningful and make it impactful. We're still kind of in that in-between stage where we might be overloading some of our coaches with the wrong type of information.

[00:28:40.49] And we're learning a lot about the collaboration-communication side of it. It's exciting. We're doing a lot at the NSCA right now with our sports science initiative. And it's cool to see that you've kind of grown into using more technology, even away from elite sport where I think we typically align with high-level sports science initiatives.

[00:29:04.67] That's a question I want to ask you. Related to performance technology, what landscape do you see in the technology and sports science space as it relates to work with general population clients or young athletes that you really just don't know where they're going to progress?

[00:29:23.31] I guess with-- again, it goes back to the force plates stuff. I have the most experience with that. And I think my force plates I have set up here, just because honestly didn't have enough money to buy some Hawkins or something nicer.

[00:29:38.80] So mine takes probably about a half an hour to really run all the testing and run all the data with one athlete. So it's kind of hard to do that on a bigger scale. But ideally, if I had that nicer software where that stuff comes out right away like we did with the ski team, being able to utilize that on a weekly basis with my teams. That's what I did when I was in Utah.

[00:29:58.59] So every week, we would do some kind of strength test. We'd do some power tests. And then we would do some power endurance test. And I would break that up and just have that as part of their warm-ups. So I would do it, or whatever interns would help do it.

[00:30:11.47] And that's something where you're not only getting performance numbers that you can go back on if they have an injury, but you can also kind of look at it. And that's one of the multiple things I can look at to see if we are getting the results that we want, or if we're pushing them too hard or not enough or something like that.

[00:30:28.09] So I think being able to utilize that stuff to the general public is something that I would love to do for some of my teams, for my sport performance teams. We have so many kids that come in here. And anybody that works with youth sport performance will understand this, who come in and they're in seven different sports or something.

[00:30:45.18] And it's like, is you being in here helping you at all today? Let's adjust. Let's do this instead. Let's do some recovery. But being able to actually have some numbers that we can take back to mom and dad might help that conversation versus just telling them that they're doing too much.

[00:31:01.00] Yeah, I think that's really interesting. And that's an area of performance technology we don't talk a lot about. We see that need in professional sports. We see that need in college sports, high-level college sports, really competitive teams. But there is this entire wearable technology space out there that impacts everybody.

[00:31:26.77] Just think of how much we do on our cell phone or with our Apple watches in just being able to track basic information. And as those technologies grow and get into the performance space a little bit more, it's going to be some really cool integrated performance data that we have the potential to capitalize on as a profession.

[00:31:54.99] Yeah. One thing I'm doing right now is, the athletes come in. And when they do their regular tests with their Exos-specific tests that we've kind of picked out as a powered by group, I'm just trying to collect all that data and collect what sports they're in and collect their ages so we can go back and look at what those standards are.

[00:32:13.74] Because right now, I can tell you where you are within your team. But I don't know if that team is the average. I don't know if maybe half of your team is way above average and you're actually above average, but you're at the bottom of your team or something.

[00:32:25.09] So the thought process obviously is hopefully between all of our sites, we can have a lot of that data that we can put together. And we could say, hey, if you're a 13-year-old soccer player, you should be between X and Z as far as your score.

[00:32:40.86] Yeah, just some baseline norms, and that's been-- I'd say there was a push for a lot of those testing directories early in the 2000s or even in the late '90s when numbers were a little simpler. But now we have a lot more metrics, and so we're really starting over and in building up what the norms are and what the expectations are. And then there's also numbers that they're more along a continuum, or their ratios versus just raw numbers that can be more is better kind of thing.

[00:33:20.85] Yeah, absolutely.

[00:33:22.67] No, this is really cool, man. I think it's cool to see how your career has progressed from just being a versatile athlete doing a lot of different things and progressing into coaching like a lot of us do. Following your passion and sports, that kind of took you towards the Olympic movement and now into the more corporate and private sector side of the field.

[00:33:50.93] And this is so relevant. So many coaches can connect with your path. And I think it's really cool to hear what you're doing. I want to give everybody listening a chance. If you want to reach out to Bret, what's the best way to do that?

[00:34:06.09] I mean, they can email me if they want to. It's bret.kelly@teamexos.com Exos is E-X-O-S. And also, the main social media I'm on usually Instagram. So it's just my initials bk_strengthcoach. So you can follow me there.

[00:34:24.53] So I try to post there somewhat regularly. And feel free to message me if you have some questions. I know how it is to be a young strength coach. I'm always trying to help them out as much as possible.

[00:34:32.88] So we have a couple here that are looking for some positions and stuff. And it's kind of funny for this conversation talking about all the internships and how to get to certain places. One conversation I just had with one of the young strength coaches was it's OK to go from this current paid job to an unpaid internship if it makes sense for you and your career path and what you want to do overall and kind of change it.

[00:34:57.65] His mindset there I think opened up the amount of opportunities that he's going to have to what he can be doing next after this. So yeah, reach out if you have questions.

[00:35:08.33] Bret Kelly with Exos, based out of the St. Louis area, formerly US Ski and Snowboard, little time in professional baseball. Great conversation today.

[00:35:19.37] To our listeners, thanks for tuning in. And also, thank you to Sorinex exercise equipment. We appreciate their support.

[00:35:27.61] Hi, this is Ivan Lewis, head strength and conditioning coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Thanks for listening to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts to have the latest episodes delivered right to you.

[00:35:41.08] Also, take your career forward by joining the NSCA's registered strength and conditioning coach program. Learn more about becoming an RSCC at nsca.com/rscc.

[00:35:51.16] [MUSIC PLAYING]

[00:35:53.69] 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.

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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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Bret Kelly, MS

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