FTDO Scott Bennett

Promoting Our Profession From Within

Hello everyone and welcome to August! It is time for Fall sports to begin! I am hopeful everyone had a safe and productive training summer and is eager to have your student-athletes return to campus.

As your young people return to activity on campus, please observe all transitional return-to-training protocols to help reduce the incidence of catastrophic events. As you know, these transitional periods are crucial periods. As your young people get back to campus for training and practice, we must take all precautions to help eliminate potential dangers due to transitional training. These protocols and guidelines can be found on our website at Protecting the Health and Safety of the Athlete (cscca.org).

As the CSCCa moves forward, I want to share some thoughts on our ever changing and growing profession. First, I want to focus on the fact that by holding the SCCC credential, you hold the most respected collegiate strength and conditioning certification in the world. The path to earn this certification is very robust and should be recognized as a high level of fundamental education. There should be a great sense of pride for the accomplishment of holding the SCCC and MSCC certifications. With that being said, let’s talk about how to promote that in your own department.

All strength coaches should have a great working relationship with the other professionals in the department that have daily touch points with the student-athletes. These professionals include sports medicine, academics, registered dietitians, sport psychologists, as well as sport coaches and administrators with departmental oversight. These entities should be aware of your credentials and your professional accomplishments. It is important to earn the trust of this group of people both individually and collectively as you are a direct influence on student-athlete well-being and performance.

The most advantageous way to gain respect and enhance your value is to become immersed in the development and rehearsal of your departmental Emergency Action Plans (EAP). Every department should have an EAP for all training facilities, practice facilities and competition facilities that is well documented, communicated, practiced and refined. As a strength and conditioning professional, you should be part of the team that creates these plans and be an instrumental player in the communication and distribution of these plans. Not only does this promote proper execution of the EAP, if needed, but also demonstrates your stance on health and safety. This is also an opportunity to openly discuss your training plans and philosophy in helping prevent incidents that may require the implementation of an EAP.

There are other ways for you as a strength and conditioning professional to share your expertise with all areas of interest inside your department. One way is to have periodic individual meetings with all these professionals. This will give you a chance not only to talk about any pertinent issues in the lives of the student-athletes, but also a chance to show your knowledge and expertise. These meetings can be scheduled meetings, or even just a drop-in meeting for a few minutes. It is amazing what a 15-20 minute meeting once a month can do for increasing the lines of communication and setting a tone for levels of professionalism. One singular meeting will not sufficiently show your level of expertise, but a continued conversation will.

The formation of a Student-Athlete Experience and Well Being Committee can be a great opportunity to get together and discuss topics that pertain to the student-athlete experience. It can be comprised of all the above-mentioned stakeholders, and can be a great source of communication and collaboration in the department so that all people are on the same page with the same vision.

Finally, in my last coaching stop, I was afforded the opportunity to do a collaborative presentation every Fall at the beginning of the semester with our Director of Sports Medicine in front of our entire department. The group in attendance included coaches, assistant coaches, administration, development officers, and compliance officers. We did a joint presentation on potential pitfalls that could occur during transitional training and how to avoid them. We educated our entire department on how to adjust training volumes for practices, the potential for Exertional Heat Illness and heat stroke during this period of time, signs and symptoms of an athlete in distress, and how we devised our EAP.  We were able to drive home the message to everyone in the department the importance of being diligent during our return to training period and how both strength and conditioning and sports medicine work together during this period. This dual presentation also gave us an opportunity to share how our areas work in step when it comes to handling any issues that may arise in the student-athletes training sessions’ throughout the rest of the training year, both in-season and offseason.  Potential training issues may include injury, illness, training modalities, and movement progressions. In addition to addressing any training issues, we introduced how we would be implementing daily or weekly surveys that covered perceived effort and fatigue in an attempt to maximize recovery. What a powerful message that presentation sent to our entire department that two highly trained professionals were in collaboration on a joint path to provide the best care possible for the student-athletes our coaches recruited to campus.

Now, those are ways for you to advocate for yourself on campus. One of the constant questions we get in the CSCCa National Office is: “What is the CSCCa doing for us?” It is a great question. Let me address it.

There are several things we can do from a national association standpoint that can help advocate for the strength and conditioning profession. One thing we can do is to communicate the importance of our certification to the hiring agents.  We can make sure that the information regarding the importance of hiring coaches with our certification gets into the proper hands. We will do that. Just as I mentioned earlier, a one-shot exposure to information of this depth is not sufficient. We will continue to communicate with the people that are influential in hiring and evaluating strength coaches in the marketplace.

As an association, we can’t set the market. We can’t control budgets. We can’t control political connections. However, what we can control is the quality of information we provide to the influencers in the marketplace to send the message of the importance of hiring someone who holds our certification. We have found in many cases that administrators don’t know the difference in the certifications that are out there, much less how the SCCC and MSCC certifications stand out when compared to the rest. It is not necessarily that they do not care, they have yet to be properly informed. We will make that information well known.

‘We will push to create a landscape that promotes the value of a well credentialed strength and conditioning coach and how that value will enhance their department and the student-athlete experience. Not only will we communicate frequently with colleges and universities, but also to conference leadership to help broaden the message of hiring SCCC credentialed coaches in their conference. We can help push the message of education, professionalism, innovation, and character to people who need to know exactly what the CSCCa is all about.