So recently a college student hit me up with a couple questions for an assignment he had in class.  I figured I’d answer them and share it with you.  I probably didn’t answer directly or what he was really expecting as far as the academic response but after coaching for a little while this is my honest answers….

1.      What are the philosophies that drive your program design?

I have had numerous people influence me from my professors, Brian Biagioli and Wes Smith, my mentor, Elliott Hulse, guys I study, Verkhoshansky, Yessis, Wilt, Simmons, Francis etc but as the late musician Charlie Parker said, You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.

Essentially what I’m saying is I studied my ass of in college and still do but when it comes down to coaching and developing programs I take each athlete where they are at and develop my own philosophy based on my experience over time that yields that greatest results for that particular athlete.  If you try to take another persons program and fit it to your athlete it can be bad news.

2.      How do you handle the regulation or rules and expectations?

Not sure what this question is referring to?  What rules and regulations? As for expectations once you understand the process of performance you develop a quiet confidence in the direction each athlete is going.  This spills over into your relationship with that athlete and earns their trust rather quickly.  Once the trust is earned that athlete can take their concern out of the training session and they become play-doh.  Where then the coach can “form” them how they want to help them increase performance.

3.      What do you feel makes a strength & conditioning coaching staff most successful?

There are many qualities and attributes a staff can have but at the end of the day a successful staff can evaluate an athlete, design a training stimulus, and reach the goal for each one. Period.  Most qualities are irrelevant in a coach if he can’t get a guy to reach his training goals.

4.      What are your goals in the field of strength & conditioning?

Honestly, my goal has changed I used to want to work with all the freak athletes but after working with under-dogs who have “no shot” and then seeing them get a collegiate scholarship or pro contract is where my goal lies.  A freak athlete could train at Planet Fitness and be fine but a solid coach can transform a kid with a dream.  Now a freak athlete with a under-dog work ethic, thats when you have greatness.

5.      What is the foundation of being a strength and conditioning coach?

Empathy and Experience.  More than just showing up with knowledge of reps and sets I believe you need to have experienced being down and out or walked through preparation yourself and hold an athletic career.  My football career was never easy, I grew up a stud ball player then I made bad choices and played catch up in college which led to 8 years of experience in fighting for a goal/dream.  So I know what these athletes are going through.  I have the empathy and compassion to influence them at young ages and sometimes I may be the only one to believe in their goals even when family and coaches don’t.  This in turn allows them to trust me and give everything they have every training session.  Sure yelling in their ear and being “down” helps but they will work for you when they know you walked the road too.

An athlete will always get better results training 100% with a subpar program than if they had the best program in the world and giving half ass effort.

Be a coach that can give them a world class program and find a way to pull out that 100% effort day in and day out.


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Chris Barnard
Chris Barnard

Chris Barnard is a strength and conditioning coach at Strength Camp, a hardcore athlete training facility in St. Petersburg, Florida, as well as author of multiple performance programs. He has worked with athletes at all levels and from many different sports to produce the highest level of performance in each. He currently resides in St Petersburg, Florida and continues to pursuit breakthroughs in athletic performance.