Strength and conditioning coach

A strength and conditioning coach is a fitness and physical performance professional who uses exercise prescription to improve the performance of competitive athletes.[1] This is achieved through the combination of strength training and aerobic conditioning, alongside a variety of further methods. Strength and conditioning coaches also help athletes with injury prevention and proper mechanics within their sports performances.[2]

Employment characteristics

Strength and conditioning coaches may work with sports teams, as well as individuals. Strength and conditioning coaches are often employed by higher education institutions and professional athletic teams.

Strength and conditioning coaches have the option to specialize in a particular sports team, type of performance, training type, training philosophy, or work in the collegiate level, where they are assigned a sport. The general description and duty of a strength and conditioning coach is to develop an exercise prescription plan that modulates aerobic, resistance, and/or flexibility training to suit the metabolic and physical demands of the sport in question.[1] With aerobic exercise prescription, strength and conditioning coaches determine the type, duration, and frequency of each exercise. For resistance exercise prescription, the type of exercise, total session volume, rest period, frequency, and intensity are determined.[3] They may also be involved in prescription of stretching routines or other approaches. Nutrition and medical consultation are not within their scope of practice and training qualifications.

Qualification standards

United States

In the US, The National Strength and Conditioning Association offers a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach qualification that is required for positions in the field. In addition to the C.S.C.S. certification, it is encouraged to attain a bachelor's degree in majors that are related to exercise science due to the competitiveness of the field.[4]

The Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Coaches association also offers certification exclusive to the collegiate and professional-level strength and conditioning coach. This certification is known as Strength & Conditioning Coach Certified (SCCC) and requires a bachelor's degree and a 640-hour internship in addition to passing the certification exam.[5]

United Kingdom

Strength and conditioning in the UK is generally overseen by the UK Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) and the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS). Both organisations provide regulations and standards for employers and professionals. A UKSCA membership and Bachelor's degree in sport and exercise science are generally accepted by many professional sports clubs as prerequisites for strength and conditioning positions. As well as the UKSCA and REPS, 1st4sport Qualifications offer standardised training in accordance with other official National Governing Body qualifications.


The implementation of effective strength and conditioning programmes has led to an increase in speed and strength.[6][7][8] Research has demonstrated that not only does training improve performance but incorrect training (distance running, a slow-twitch muscle fiber activity, in football athletes with fast-twitch characteristics) can cause decrements to performance. Using techniques such as plyometrics in some high-power athletes and sports-specific movements in others, strength coaches may improve physical function and athletic performance.[9]


Criticism has followed the increased use of strength and conditioning coaches in a variety of sports due to the shift in importance to the size and speed of the players. In rugby union, a game with heavy physical contact and minimal protection, players are being described as being "too big", creating collisions that are increasing the risk of short and long term injuries.[10] Further, it has been proposed that the increased weight and speed of players and subsequent rise of collision force leads to more frequent and severe concussion injuries.[11][12]

However, there is as yet no research to suggest an increased use of strength and conditioning leading to an increased risk of injury.


  1. "Strength & Conditioning - English Institute of Sport". English Institute of Sport. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  2. "Strength and conditioning coach". Human Kinetics. 2011-08-25. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  3. Kraemer, WJ. Exercise Physiology: Integrating Theory and Application. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Chapter 12. Ahead of print, March 2011.
  4. "Becoming a Strength and Conditioning Coach". Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  5. "About Us". Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  6. Lombard, Wayne P.; Durandt, Justin J.; Masimla, Herman; Green, Mervin; Lambert, Michael I. (2015). "Changes in Body Size and Physical Characteristics of South African Under-20 Rugby Union Players over a 13-Year Period". Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 29 (4): 980–988. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000724. PMID 25387267.
  7. Izquierdo, Mikel; Häkkinen, Keijo; Gonzalez-Badillo, Juan J.; Ibáñez, Javier; Gorostiaga, Esteban M. (1 July 2002). "Effects of long-term training specificity on maximal strength and power of the upper and lower extremities in athletes from different sports". European Journal of Applied Physiology. 87 (3): 264–271. doi:10.1007/s00421-002-0628-y. ISSN 1439-6319. PMID 12111288.
  8. Karsten, Bettina; Stevens, Liesbeth; Colpus, Mark; Larumbe-Zabala, Eneko; Naclerio, Fernando (2016-01-01). "The Effects of a Sport-Specific Maximal Strength and Conditioning Training on Critical Velocity, Anaerobic Running Distance, and 5-km Race Performance" (PDF). International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 11 (1): 80–85. doi:10.1123/ijspp.2014-0559. ISSN 1555-0273. PMID 25946163.
  9. Kraemer, WJ. Exercise Physiology: Integrating Theory and Application. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Ahead of print, March 2011.
  10. Rhodes, David (19 September 2015). "How big will rugby players get?". BBC News. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  11. Schofield, Daniel (11 February 2015). "Rugby concussions soar by 59 per cent, says report". Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  12. English, Tom (1 June 2014). "Rugby's concussion issue under the spotlight". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 May 2017.

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