As summer approaches and your kids are getting ready to do strength camps to improve their performance during their hockey or baseball or football or skating or volleyball season, please take the following into consideration:
Athletes require very particular programming, including assessments, strength standards, and exercise progression/regressions. They need to work with a true professional who understands the science and application of exercise.
There are many “coaches” who have a background playing sports in college and/or lifting weights throughout their high school and college years. I think that’s great—they’ve had many years of experience lifting for their specific sport.
But just because someone has years of lifting and playing at a college level doesn’t mean they’re qualified to teach children how to exercise. All it means is that they like exercising, Experience isn’t the same as expertise.
Coach William & Jen have been NSCA Certified for over 7 years
Experience just qualifies you as a hobbyist—not a professional. I’ve met Division One athletes who are accountants; their education is in accounting, not exercise science. They have experience weightlifting, but they have no idea how to write an effective, safe weightlifting program; they don’t have a professional’s understanding of how the human body works.
But how can you tell if you’re paying money to leave your child in the hands of a hobbyist rather than a professional? Here are six things to look out for:
They’re not certified through the National Strength & Conditioning Association.
The NSCA is recognized throughout the world as the gold standard for fitness. They’re the leading experts in sports science. If a coach is working with athletes, it should be nonnegotiable that they be certified through the NSCA, otherwise you can’t be sure they have the knowledge and understanding of both the theoretical and applied sciences that are essential for training athletes.
They don’t use movement assessments.
Movement assessments help determine a starting point for athletes, but they also help to determine potential risks for injury. This means that all the exercises a coach programs need take the athlete’s movement patterns—along with the injuries and muscle imbalances that can be so common when working with athletes—into account to help avoid and/or correct any issues.
They don’t care about their athletes’ safety.
Please go and take a good, long look at the social media page of the coach that you are thinking about trusting your child with. If you see videos of athletes performing exercises with any of the following problems, it’s a big indicator that the coach won’t take your child’s safety into consideration:
Coach William & the Marshall High School Girls Hockey Team
· Rounded backs: If you are seeing rounded backs in exercises like the deadlift, this is a BIG red flag. heavy Because the spine isn’t in a neutral position, injury risk here is significant, especially if the weight is too heavy—as it often will be when athletes aren’t yet skilled in this exercise.
· Shitty barbell squat: Barbell squats are great, but athletes don’t need them to get strong. In truth, when this exercise is not performed correctly, the risk of injury increases exponentially—much more than with other exercises, so the risk-to-reward ratio here often doesn’t merit its inclusion for athletes.
Plus, most sports—specifically hockey, football, and volleyball—are performed unilaterally (one leg in front of the other, as in walking or running), not bilaterally (both feet in line with each other, as in standing or, say, squatting). Why risk injury doing a bilateral exercise like barbell squats when your child is training to do unilateral movements? The question comes to this: why is my athlete doing an exercise that isn’t specific to their sport?
Dropping weights onto the ground is another red flag. This means that the coach or the person in charge of the workout is not reinforcing proper mechanics when lowering the weight down to the starting point. Being reckless with the equipment you are using—especially when it’s very heavy equipment—can be an unnecessary injury risk.
They don’t have a principles-based programming.
In true exercise science, we use things called training principles. Principles are nonnegotiable laws that determine how we create a program to help you accomplish your goals. If the person you have hired doesn’t use these to create a training program, then you should take your money and your child elsewhere.
If a coach isn’t using training principles to create their programs, they’re essentially just putting random exercises together without truly understanding the physiological effects they’ll have on the body.
Think of it this way: you go to an accountant to manage your money. The accountant should have learned specific information, skills, and principles in school that help them know how best to manage your money, follow all state and federal laws, and how to make the most of possible tax deductions. If they don’t have that basic knowledge, you’re basically letting some person guess what they should do with your money without any real understanding of what and why they’re doing it.
Working with the Marshall High School Boys Hockey Team
They encourage a No Pain, No Gain approach.
The biggest lie in fitness is that you have to create pain and soreness to get results. This is the dumbest shit I have ever heard. Yes, exercise should be difficult, but only to a specific degree (again, see scientific training principles).
We encourage discomfort at our gym, but never pain. We adhere to this strictly because when someone experiences sharp pain, that’s their body telling them something isn’t okay. Ignoring the messages your body sends will eventually lead to injuries, which will prevent your child from getting better at their sport—or worse.
Plus, they might carry the toxicity of the no pain, no gain mentality throughout their lives. By encouraging this mindset, they’re being set up for a lifetime of injuries and instability in their athletic careers.
They can’t fully explain how or why they are doing workouts
The hobbyist spends too much time on social media watching professional athletes do weird, extreme exercises that look cool. They think that this is what their athletes need, but if you ask them, they’re unlikely to be able to explain why they need them, how they’ll help the athletes’ performance, or what the purpose of each movement is.
If you come into our gym and see anyone doing any exercise, our coaches will be able to tell you how and why they’re doing it, what muscles and joints are being used, why we are doing it in this specific manner—and so much more!
A proper coach will be able to share with you the weight training program that they created along with directing you through their thought process of how they created it.
In summary, when it comes to hiring a coach for your child, value your child’s safety by investing in a properly trained coach—not a hobbyist.