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Three tough questions for wanna-be college strength coaches

I have had the privilege of mentoring numerous interns trying to become a strength & conditioning coach. I have pride in the fact that I have been very honest with them about recommendation and the field itself. I have had many recently looking for positions and I care about them enough to ask them (or ask them to ask themselves) some important questions.

Do you really want to be a collegiate strength & conditioning coach?

Being at the college level has its own challenges. If you are pursuing a college S&C job, it is because you feel you are best suited for and have a passion for coaching 18-22 year-olds. If you just want to coach and you don't care what age group, the private sector or high school may be a better choice. A few questions:

  • Is everything you are doing right now preparing yourself for that career?
  • Can you move anywhere in the country or are you tied to a certain geographic area?
  • Are you willing to save money just to volunteer to get experience with an internship?
  • What makes you deserving of a full-time job and why would a head S&C coach hire you over the other 200 applicants?
  • Are you passionate about getting others strong or do you just like to train yourself. One feeds your ego, the other feed your family.

Applying for a GA spot

These positions are extremely hard to come by. A lot of people think they are going to get their undergrad and fall right into a College S&C GA position. It really doesn't work like that. So ask yourself:

  • Do you really want to be a graduate assistant strength coach or do you just want your Masters paid for?
  • Are you willing to work 60-80 hours per week, get paid for 20 and still have a full course load?
  • If you can't get a S&C GA position, are you willing to still go to grad school and volunteer in the weight room?

Do you know anyone who has retired as a strength & conditioning coach?

Just about every strength coach will quit or get fired and eventually get out of the game. There are only a few that get recycled enough times to make a career out of it. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you like money?
  • Do you like sleep?
  • What is your fall-back plan?
  • Is your significant other willing to move around the country?

These questions are not meant to scare anyone away from being a strength & conditioning coach at the college level. Just make sure you understand the sacrifices you are going to have to make to do so.

Mark Watts' Training Log

Articles by Mark Watts