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Benefits of a high school strength and conditioning program

This is an excerpt from NSCA’s Guide to High School Strength and Conditioning by NSCA -National Strength & Conditioning Association,Patrick T McHenry & Mike Nitka.

By Edwin C. Jones MA, CSCS
And Shawn L. Jenkins, MS, ATC, CSCS

Perhaps the most long-lasting benefit of a strength and conditioning program is overall health. Consistent exercise combats many health-related issues (6, 7, 9); decreases the risk of injury (7); and minimizes injury recovery time (7), which ultimately results in increased muscular strength, power, and endurance required for sport performance.

A strength and conditioning professional must be familiar with the long-term athletic development dynamics of resistance training for youth (8) and understand the age-appropriate, developmental stages of the student-athlete and how to design a resistance training program that yields positive results (2, 8). The strength and conditioning professional prepares young men and women for their sport through the design and implementation of a specially structured program to help reduce the frequency and severity of sport-related injuries.

A well-designed strength and conditioning program develops stronger, faster, and more powerful individuals, compared to those who do not participate in such a program (1). Any sport coach would want this type of student-athlete on their team. Additionally, this program could provide the student-athlete with increased confidence via positive body changes and competence with movement, which could prove advantageous against the competition (8, 17).

A sport coach may develop the best game plan ever seen, but if the team’s student-athletes are not strong, fast, quick, agile, and conditioned at a high level, the execution and success of this plan will be hindered. A strength and conditioning professional or sport coach has the training and expertise to enhance those athletic components (5, 7).

Hiring a strength and conditioning professional who has earned the title by way of academics, certification, and experience offers several benefits. One benefit is to avoid or mitigate the school’s liability in the area of strength and conditioning. A qualified strength and conditioning professional will develop procedures to limit potential risks (4, 11, 16).

Having a qualified strength and conditioning professional on staff brings professionalism (15) in that the sole purpose of the position is to design and implement strength and conditioning programs to develop the student-athlete’s strength, athleticism, and lifelong healthy practices (5, 7, 18). The strength and conditioning professional will also address physical and mental demands of sport through the strength and conditioning program, which also has been shown to minimize injuries (2, 7, 11, 16).

A strength and conditioning professional on staff provides the opportunity for the sport coach to focus on their day-to-day sport duties. Hiring a strength and conditioning professional specifically designated to design and implement a resistance training program will make this transition possible. This action eliminates putting the program under the supervision of someone who may be uncertified and unqualified. A strength and conditioning professional is trained to meet the needs of all student-athletes.