What is a strength coach to do? If you stay in this profession long enough, you will get jobs you want, jobs you don’t want, and jobs you have to take. It is the nature of the beast. Some jobs come easy: it may be that a random phone call from a job you have never heard of opens up and you know somebody that knows somebody. Other times they are hard and you have to fill out one thousand applications and make a million phone calls.

Sometimes getting or losing a job is really not your fault, and you're just a victim of circumstance. We see all the time how “important” we are supposed to be, praised after a great off-season or summer with the players, then the head coach needs to blame somebody after a bad season. Say goodbye to your job! Trust me, after doing this in college for over 17 years, this is way more common than you think. This profession is hard enough, with situations like taking one job that you thought was the right decision that winds up derailing your whole career path. This article is written for strength coaches who lives hang in the balance of the football coach/season.

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In this profession, there are only a handful of strength coaches who really are bulletproof. They hooked up with a like-minded football coach who is really good, understands what strength coaches really do, is on the same page in terms of team culture, and knows that building a dominant program takes time. The coach understands that you are all in this together, and will fight for you and your staff while times get lean because it is hard to build and sustain a championship program. As a whole, it will work in cycles: some great years, some not so great years. The head coach, administration, and all the internal people that make up a collegiate program don’t panic. They focus on the process and just keep grinding to get better every year. This is how it should work in a perfect world, but I assure you that this utopia is a very elite situation. You will not find this in many schools, and it may happen only once in your career lifetime. When I talk about these programs, I don’t mean just the top five teams in the country. It could be any school at any level — I just use them as an example because of how they run their program with everyone in on the process, doing their job and working together to be great.

The rest of the schools and situations strength coaches fall in are usually the industry standard. One of the most confusing situations is when strength coaches are told how great they are by their head coach, how important they are over the off-season, how they are the head coach of the team while coaches are away, blah, blah, blah. At least 90% of what they are saying is because they heard it from an elite program's head coach who said it in a talk or article they read. This is the worst situation to be in, because you have no clue about the truth of where you really stand, and all of the sudden you are fired because someone said there had to be a change — and who is the easiest to change? You guessed it: the strength coach! I have had countless friends and acquaintances in this profession who have experienced this, and it is the worst.

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Some of the other situations strength coaches find themselves in are with head coaches where nothing is good enough. In these situations, you and everyone else is always getting blown up for one thing or another. It may sound horrible, but it is better than the first situation because you know where you stand. You may have disagreements, but you know where you stand. These head coaches are usually fighters, and if you keep doing your best, he will have your back no matter the circumstances.

Then there is the coach that lets you do your job, give input whether positive or negative and with whom you have a great working relationship. This is also a great situation, and the level-headed approach by the coach and yourself usually leads to a long-term relationship and employment. This may not be an “elite” program, but still a pretty damn good one.

The final one I want to cover is the head coach that has absolutely no clue about what you are doing or stand for and doesn’t ask or give input. This is a no man’s land that you do not want to find yourself in — it is hard to really know what is going on, and it takes a lot of years and experiences to be confident enough to do your thing, basically on your own.

I have been a part of every one of these situations over my career, and am writing this article to show you not only how this profession is, but also what you can do to help yourself. This profession is like no other. You have the opportunity to touch so many people and make their lives better. To this day, I love nothing more than seeing someone hit a PR, having a parent thank me for looking out for their child, or seeing that light go on in a freshman's head when he finally gets it and starts to grow up. It is a noble profession — one that helps prepare young people for life, building not just their bodies but also their minds. It is a profession of teaching athletes the important life skills of commitment, sacrifice, goal-setting, time management skills, and teamwork, all framed in a competitive and educational environment. I promise you, as a strength coach you are preparing them for life outside school more than anyone else ever will. Do not ever lose focus of that fact — it is the most important thing that we do. It's not about winning games; winning games is the by-product of a lot of factors that we all have a part in, but our impact is much greater than an 8-4 record or a conference championship.

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I have been a part of winning teams, and when you meet up with a player years later, what do they bring up? It is always, "I remember this workout" or "you were there when I benched 315 for the first time." Games and championships are always brought up later, because the other stuff is real, visceral, and what really built that relationship.

How could you ask for anything more? I could not, but some advice I can give you if you are in one of these situations as a strength coach is this quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are.” Live this quote in you professional and personal life and you cannot go wrong. Just do your job, and do it to the best of your ability.

If you are coaching scared, stop. You are better than that. Do not coach or run your program with every decision being made to please or try to please someone else. You will go insane because in almost all of these situations, you could or could not be pleasing them and they won’t even know the difference! Just coach the way you coach, and do what you do best. Mold the team the way you think it is right until your boss tells you otherwise. Most of the time he will not, and you will thank yourself for it.

There is no price tag on keeping your sanity and building a culture of success the right way. Block out the noise, don’t worry about what this person or that person or the internet clowns say. We all have our own unique situations, circumstances, and athletes. Do your thing. I wish I knew this earlier in my career — it would have saved me a lot of headaches. Just go to work every day with a purpose of building a culture and making young people’s lives better. The only thing anyone can truly ask of you is that when you leave that job, either on your own or not, that you left it in a better place than when you got there. If you can say that you've done that, then you have done your job, and done it well. Good luck in spring ball.