The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and trying to get a different result. That is what I feel we, as strength and conditioning coaches, keep doing over and over, and hopefully, we realize that things have got to change in our profession, or we will be going nowhere. Things will not change.

After many deliberations and failures on my part, I still cannot figure out why it is so hard for strength coaches to be looked at as professionals. As many of the articles on this site, along with ones I have written, have stated, we have not done ourselves any favors. If we continue to act like little kids jumping around, screaming, and waving towels all the time, who is going to take us seriously? We want to be looked at as professionals, yet we can’t even have a civil handshake with the opposing team’s strength staff before a game.

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Could you imagine a head coach or trainer refusing to shake their counterpart’s hand on the other team pre-game because they are the enemy? Do you think a head coach spends all his time when taking over a new job bashing the previous staff and what they did to justify what he is going to do, or does he just roll up his sleeves and go to work?

We also cannot blame it on there not being a cut-and-dry way to evaluate our chosen profession, a way to quantify who is a good strength coach or who is a bad strength coach. How do they evaluate trainers, operations people, or even position coaches? How can you tell a good one from a bad one? Do they time trainers in ankle taping? If you get back from an away game in one piece, does that make your operations guy outstanding?

I have been around guys that could coach circles around other guys, but for some reason or another, they wind up getting fired, yet others keep their job. There is no way to really evaluate most of the people (if not all) involved in putting a winning team on the field, but why do we seem to always get singled out? The best reason I can come up with is we are easy to blame.

two american football players tackle silhouette

ostill ©

Let’s take this scenario, for example. They run a play at the end of a game where the running back is supposed to go right, and instead, he decides to go left, gets tackled, and you lose the game. We must be tired, right? We must be out of condition. It has to be our fault.

The running back coach can’t be blamed, he just yells (and we have all seen this), “That’s not how he was coached to run that play!” And boom, he’s off the hook.

The offensive coordinator agrees with the running backs coach because he brought in the guy and he can’t make himself look bad. It MUST be our fault that a 20-year-old kid doesn’t know his left from his right and makes us look out of condition because we didn’t win the fourth quarter!

You think I am crazy? Then let’s reverse the situation. Let’s say he decides to go the right way and scores, and we win the game. Wow, we must have won because we now owned the fourth quarter, right? That will never happen.

The running back coach will say it is because of him coaching his players the right way, the offensive coordinator will take credit for the play call, the offensive line coach will take credit for blocking, and the head coach will take credit for hiring all these guys. Then the player will say it is all him because he is the man. All because he went right instead of left.

It is also easy to blame us for the most ridiculous things you have ever seen. Want to see how loved you are? Have a player get hurt on your watch. It makes us all sick to our stomachs if a player gets hurt while working out, even with something that just happened, like turning an ankle on a bag drill. We feel like trash even though it was out of our hands, but just wait until the coaches find out.

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They would make you think that you left the workout, went into your car, grabbed a machine gun, came back, and shot that player in cold blood. No matter what it was, it will be the end of the world. It is OK that they can make up some drill that anyone looking at it will guarantee that someone will get hurt doing it, run it in the middle of camp at 100 degrees and boom! Down goes Frasier.

What happens next? Do the trainers and coaches yell at the head coach, blame him and make him feel like garbage, or do they just say, “Move the drill up 10 yards,” and continue to do it while trainers attend to the wounded and continue practice as if nothing happened.

I do not have an answer to this. I just want to make you aware of what really happens. This is not new. If you have done this for a few years, you have already seen most of this.

two american football players running silhouette

ostill ©

The next one really drives me crazy. How is it that we are responsible for players who do absolutely nothing outside the weight room to improve their performance? How is it our fault when a kid gets dizzy or abnormally out of gas during a 6 a.m. workout that you have to do at 6 a.m. because the coach thinks it will make them mentally tougher and the kid has not slept or eaten a thing in 18 hours?

If a player cramps up and the trainers start bitching and asking what you are doing to find out they had partied all night and are completely dehydrated and hung-over? How in the HELL is that our fault? Yet we get blamed.

The player does nothing while at home, gets back to campus, and falls behind in the workouts, and coaches ask us what we are doing about it. I actually had a sports coach once ask us if we could change what we were doing in the weight room. I asked him why, and he said because his girls were behind other girls in the conference. When I asked him what he meant, he said that the other schools in the conference have their players on campus all summer playing and working out. Our girls go home from May 6th until about August 20th (almost four months), but he doesn’t want to pay for them to be here. He just thought if we could double up on workouts or something they could catch up. True story.

I am sure all of you out there have similar experiences and stories, but they really make no sense anymore. What used to be funny and things to talk about at a convention now are costing us our jobs because there are so many of us we can be replaced at the drop of a hat. Don’t believe me? Just wait. You will see it or hear about it at one point or another.

I do not have any concrete answers, but we all need to figure this thing out quick or we will all be answering to people that have absolutely no idea of what we do, and they will try and tell us how to do it! And that will be worse than all of the above combined.