How to Get the Most out of Conferences and Clinics

How to get the most out of conferences and clinics
So, if you already know everything about training and coaching then this post will make no sense to you. You will be reading this like a dog who just heard a high pitch noise. If you feel you no longer can learn anything from anyone else when it comes to strength & conditioning, then this may not apply.

There are several types of Dunning-Kreuger coaches and trainers out there that will laugh at the idea of continuing education.

The "I read books, which is just as good as a degree" guy. Yes, you can read every single book on kinesiology, biomechanics, motor learning, etc., and have a good understanding and even able to apply those concepts. But education means truly having those experiences applying those concepts evaluated. Congrats, you can quote other people in your articles about topics you may have no experience in.

The "certifications don't make you a coach" guy.

99% of these people are not certified. Listen, it is a formality. No one is stapling their CSCS to their forehead claiming coaching supremacy. Certifications won't even get you a job. They'll just keep you from getting one in certain situations.

The "My ego is bigger than my need to hear others" guy.

This could also be someone who just doesn't feel listening to someone else is worth it. People get jealous of other coaches that have platforms. It's petty, but it happens. There is this phenomena that if I complement someone else's views I am somehow inferior.


I have been attending between 1-5 conferences a year since 1998. I have never left a conference or clinic at least... 1. Learning one thing new 2. Reinforcing what I was already doing 3. Meeting someone that would eventually help me down the line So, the biggest advice I can give young coaches is to actually go to every conference or clinic you can. That is step one... be there.

The biggest complaint for young coaches is that they can't afford it. So, I will try to give some tips on A.) how to make it work financially and B.) how to get the most out of the trip. Most of these tips apply more toward multi-day conferences.

Making ends Meet
Here are a few tips to help with making the trips affordable.

1.) Split the Hotel
Two years ago in Nashville we had 9 dudes in our room. Nine. Two in each bed, and the rest on the floor. You shouldn't be spending much time in the room anyway. Just be nice to the maid to get extra towels and you are good.

2.) Carpool.
This is obvious. The bigger issue it to pay to park if it is at a hotel.

3.) Pack as much food as you can. If you are flying this is tougher, but still try and bring some PBJs, bars, or Raman Noodles, Lunchables, anything you can. My first year, coaches on our staff would fill up cups with hot water for noodles and bring tortillas for wraps.

4. Don't eat breakfast.
This was tough for me, but you can snag bars from supplement vendors and a lot of conferences, they will feed you. Get as many free meals as you can.

Getting the most out of it
So here are my suggestions to ensure you leave the conference with the most knowledge and connections.

1. Go to every speaker. Most conferences have simultaneous presentations and you can always pick one that can apply to you. If you have multiple people in your group, plan ahead, split up, and share ideas. Even if you attend one that you aren't interested in o the speaker loses you, bring your smart phone and be productive.

2. Take efficient notes on relevant points. Meaning, you will already have the PPTs ahead of time, so you don't need to write feverishly. Just type what applies to you on your phone. I like either the standard note feature, Catch (which is no longer in service), or Evernote.

3. Bring business cards. Don't have any? Get some. I realize it may be easier to exchange numbers, but it really isn't practical in a conference setting. If for whatever reason you don't have a card make sure you ask for theirs.

4. Introduce yourself to everyone. You don;t have to be a choad about it. But this is not the time (or the profession) to be shy. Make sure you do what your dad taught you and look them in the eye, firm handshake, etc.

5. If you get a contact, follow up. Take your stack of business card and send everyone you meet a hand written letter (or at least an e-mail.) They will now have you contact info if you didn't have cards.

6. Don't be that guy. be humble, be open-minded, and be opportunistic. Everyone you meet may be a potential employer, a future colleague, competition for a position, or someone you will want to hire one day. The thing is you treat them all the same. By being yourself. Everyday is a job interview and a chance to build professional relationships. You never know what role that person will have to you whenever your paths cross again. So, make sure you are the person you want to be.

See you soon
I hope the brave souls who have read my training log are all people I will get to meet in the near future. This business is about people. And coaches are my people. I heard a friend Todd Whiteman tell me this the other day and it stuck. There is a difference between being good with people and being good for people.

DEBP, PU, Sprint Circuit x5
Bench Press w/ Chains

195 + 120 chain for 5 triples

Neutral Grip Pull-Up
Grip 1, 2, 0, 1, 3 for 5 triples

Lateral Start 30yd build ups x2
Lateral Start 20yd x1
Parallel Start 30yd x 2
Parallel Start 40yd x 1

Glute Ham Raise

Ring Triceps Extensions

Ring Serrano Press/ Scarecrows

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