Coaching is a very subjective occupation. With so much variation in belief and training practices, just about any joe blow with cones and a speed ladder can join the field and peg themselves as an elite level strength and conditioning coach.
So, how do you tell the good from the bad? The qualified from the un-qualified? The real from the fake? It’s easier than you think…
Have they paid their “Dues”?
As dorky as it sounds, paying dues is simply a demonstration of how passionate and committed a coach is to the field. Upon reviewing a coach’s resume and work history, it’s important to find out where they've been and the responsibilities they’ve had. A good resume will have at least one unpaid position and one paid position in the field. It’s good to see an unpaid position on a resume because its a sign they're crazy about the field and will do anything to join. A paid position shows they have the skill set and knowhow to be compensated and an organization believes they are worth the money.
What kind of education do they have?
Yes, college is expensive, but it is integral part of developing the skill set needed to coach at a high level. Having at least SOME kind of exposure to college level courses in motor learning, kinesiology and anatomy can be very helpful in marketing yourself as a pro. Think about it. If an NBA guy is looking for a place to train in the off-season and you need to discuss the importance of hip mobility relative to the mobility-stability continuum, you will sound a lot more credible than just saying he needs to stretch. Education is the foundation and provides athletes with the “whys”, which helps them buy into the program. The moment a coach says, “because that’s what I’ve always done” or “just do it”, all credibility is lost.
Are they certified?
Two certifications that are credible in the field of Strength and Conditioning are the CSCS by the NSCA and the CSCCa. Some debate the quality of these certifications and how much you will use the knowledge obtained from them, but what needs to be realized is they are easily a few of the best certifications available to a strength and conditioning professional. These certifications provide a ton of fundamental knowledge needed to be successful in the field. Coaches that refuse to follow protocol and obtain one of these two certifications are typically the ones who do an online certification that takes two days to complete. Not knocking online learning, but those typically don’t provide the depth of knowledge needed to be an outstanding coach. Rather, they are a great supplement and should be used in conjunction with a more credible certification.
In closing, using these three rules can help filter out coaches you want to work with and ones you should probably avoid!