top of page
RP backdrop.png

What is a strength & conditioning coach?

"A strength & conditioning coach plans, delivers and reviews the physical preparation of athletes aligned to specific performance outcomes" (English Institute of Sport).  They can provide field-based scientific support (physiology/biomechanics/skill acquisition) to sports coaches to help articulate performance problems.  In turn, through a deep understanding of the physical characteristics underpinning human performance they combine their knowledge of training prescription and adaptation with planning expertise to create a road map to performance solutions.  In elite sport, data and specialist diagnostics are often employed to inform decision making.

How do they work with sports coaches to make an impact?

Given the aim of strength & conditioning to drive a performance change in the sport, not just the training environment (e.g. the gym) it should be considered a sub-component of actual sports training and arguably cannot be separated.  Indeed, if the S&C coach successfully improves action capacities related to the sport they create opportunities for skill progression. 


Skills and scope of practice 

Strength & Conditioning is about more than lifting weights, it encompasses the entire physical preparation of the athlete. This means anything other than the sports training could be considered 'S&C'.  Given this broad scope of practice S&C coaches are often a product of their environment in terms of their knowledge and skills.  For example, those supporting athletes competing in physiology dominant sports (e.g. cycling/rowing) possess related technical knowledge (physiology), those operating in running-based sports rely on strong biomechanical understanding of high speed running mechanics, the S&C coach working with youth athletes understands long-term athletic development, maturation and develops unique coaching skills, and the practitioner working in clinical / rehabilitation settings develops a musculoskeletal practitioner skill-set etc.  

Education and distinction from other fitness and allied health professionals 

Unfortunately, the standard and competency of S&C coaches varies widely, and as things stand it is not a protected term so athletes and coaches should exercise caution when recruiting for their support team. It should be noted that S&C coaches are not the same as physiotherapists, sports therapists or personal trainers, and the qualifications for each are not interchangeable. As a discipline of sports science S&C practitioners have more stringent educational requirements than personal trainers, while the broad training of physiotherapists (orthopaedics, cardiovascular, respiratory, neuro etc.) affords them an extended scope, namely the knowledge and clinical experience to flag suspected serious pathology masquerading as musculoskeletal disorders. Further, unlike physiotherapists, sports therapists and rehabilitators, S&C coaches do not diagnose injuries, but they have the skills to make valuable contributions to injury management and rehabilitation, particularly as part of an inter-disciplinary sports medicine team.  

While there are numerous independent education providers, the UK Strength & Conditioning Association (UKSCA) is comfortably the most recognised in the UK and provides by far the most rigorous accreditation process so the letters 'ASCC' (accredited strength & conditioning coach) are somewhat of a guarantee of professional standards and competencies.  The UKSCA are currently working with the chartered institute for the management of sport and physical activity (CIMPSA) to make 'Strength & Conditioning Coach' a chartered profession and therefore a protected title.  

bottom of page