Today, athletes are without a doubt becoming stronger, faster, bigger, and displaying more proficient levels of sport-specific fitness than in years past. Not only do you still have young athletes participating in multiple sports during the calendar year, but many of them are also participating in ‘strength and conditioning’ programs as early as 13-14. Athletics have always promoted competition and developing a competitive advantage. Both parents and young athletes are investing in private/semi-private training services with greater frequency. I can remember back to my days as a young athlete in the 1990s and the concept of strength and conditioning coaches for youth athletes was almost non-existent.
Flash forward 15-20 years and the sports performance business has expanded greatly, arguably to the point of saturation in some areas around the country. Most cities offer several facilities to chose from when it comes to selecting a location for your son or daughter to train. With that in mind, it’s important to keep in mind some guidelines to help parents and athletes in the decision making process.
When looking for the best, it also helps to get advice from the best. So today, I want to feature some guidelines from Sean Skahan, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL. Sean’s guidelines certainly apply to not only youth hockey players, but all youth athletes. Sean has a tremendous reputation in the NHL for being one of the top strength and conditioning coaches and his advice is valuable.
Here are his guidelines for finding quality strength and conditioning services:
- Make sure that the trainer(s) has a degree from a four-year college or university. A master’s degree would be a plus. Preferably, their degree is in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Biomechanics, or another major related to Exercise and or Sports Medicine.
- Make sure that the trainer is certified by a reputable certification agency. For Strength and Conditioning Coaches or Personal Trainers who work with hockey players, the Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (C.S.C.S) certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is probably the most reputable certification. Another good certification is any certification provided by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (N.A.S.M.).
- Ask for testimonials and/or references from athletes that they have coached. They should be able to provide current or past testimonials from people who have trained with them. If they can’t provide you with any testimonials, ask for references. If they can’t give you any references, find another trainer. Also, make sure that the trainer actually trained and worked with an athlete whom they say they have.
- Don’t get caught up in the “bells and whistles” about the facility. Most of the good strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers out there can get results without the high-tech equipment that might be considered “hockey-specific”. Also, they might not need a large facility the size of a Wal-Mart.
Sean goes on to add this as well:
In today’s world, it is easy for anyone to get a personal training certification from a non-reputable source and then partner up with someone with a lot of money and start up a sports training business. I always prefer an individual or company that started out with close to nothing and then grew their business by getting positive results from their athletes and clients. As a parent who is paying for the child to participate in a strength and conditioning program, you must do your homework when trying to choose one.
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