Is Your High School Strength Coach Qualified to be a Strength Coach?
The NSCA just published an article ahead of print that researched the qualifications of High School Strength coaches, sport coaches, and physical education coaches and collegiate seniors to teach/coach basic weight training techniques and methods to high school students. They discovered the no state required a resistance training related certification for coaches to teach strength training or coach athletes in strength training. Of the 487 subject tested, only 16% received a passing score of 75% on an exam relating to basic strength and conditioning skills, techniques and methods. 20% of college seniors getting a physical education degree passed the test, whereas only 14.3% of current high school coaches and physical education teachers (that were already teaching/coaching weight training) passed the test. The average test score was a 59% and scores where unrelated to the years of experience coaching/teaching weight training. Again, this test was concerning basic technique, skills and methods used in instructing strength training.
The results of this test are not surprising as only a few dozen colleges in the U.S. offer degrees related to or including weight training basics as part of their Physical Education coursework. In addition, most students that get degrees in Physical Education with a focus in Exercise Science or something similar, do not become teachers. Most of them go on to become doctors, physicians assistants, physical therapists, college strength coaches or move on to do something in the private sector. Most high school physical education teachers focused on teaching and were not required to take exercise science courses including physiology, anatomy, exercise physiology, kineisiology, biomechanics, weight training or exercise testing and prescription.
The most alarming part of this is that nearly every high school in the U.S. has a weight room, and a coach that oversees it. Many of these schools offer a weight training class as part of their P.E. program, and most cases this class works out to be more of an undirected open lift format. Many high schools also require that their football players participate in the weight lifting program, despite having no one qualified to coach them. In most of theses scenarios you should expect, in the best cases, the high school athlete to make very haphazard improvements. In the worst cases, the high school athlete will get injured while lifting, or on the field as a result of muscle imbalances or overuse. Many of these injuries will be severe, such as acl tears or shoulder injuries. In fact, non-contact acl tears and non-contact shoulder injuries are almost always the result of no coaching or poor coaching either on the field or in the weight room. In 20 years of coaching thousands of athlete I have had one athlete with an acl tear (it was the result of contact) and no shoulder injuries. Sprained ankles, acl tears and shoulder injuries to overhead athletes make up the majority of sport related injuries. The secret to preventing injuries is created muscle balance in static and dynamic situations. This has to be carefully planned and administered.
Any fair strength coach can increase strength, at least for a while. The best strength coaches and personal trainers can prevent injuries, optimize performance, peak for performance, and make gains in the weight room and on the field all year long, year after year.