In the competitive realm of elite sports, the journey of a strength and conditioning professional is akin to climbing a meticulously crafted ladder. Career progression is not just about accumulating experience but strategically navigating through various levels. This blog explores the essential 6-level criteria designed to guide aspiring individuals in the dynamic field of strength and conditioning.
**Level 1: Internship at a Pro Club:**
Embarking on the ladder begins with the foundational step of an internship at a professional club. This immersive experience allows individuals to breathe in the elite sports environment, understanding the nuances that set it apart. As an intern, one gains invaluable insights that serve as a compass for the journey ahead. The transition to managing a senior local-level program further hones leadership and communication skills, establishing a solid base for the climb.
**Level 2: Strength & Power Coach at NAB League, AFLW, or VFL Men’s:**
Ascending to the second level involves taking on the role of a Strength & Power Coach in prestigious leagues such as NAB, AFLW, or VFL Men’s. This stage is characterized by hands-on practical experience, where responsibilities extend beyond the weight room. Crafting tailored programs for elite athletes becomes second nature, laying the groundwork for career growth. It’s here that the true impact of a strength and power coach on athlete performance comes to the forefront.
**Level 3: High-Performance Manager in VFL Men’s or AFLW, NAB League:**
Leveling up to a High-Performance Manager marks a pivotal transition. The role extends beyond the day-to-day coaching tasks, encompassing strategic planning and leadership. Managers at this level navigate the complexities of high-stakes competitions, requiring a keen understanding of the team’s dynamics and individual athlete needs. Leadership skills and a visionary approach become paramount for success.
**Level 4: Full-Time Assistant S&C or PhD Research at a Pro Club:**
At the fourth level, professionals may opt for specialized roles such as Full-Time Assistant Strength & Conditioning or delve into PhD research within a professional club. This stage underscores the significance of balancing practical experience with academic pursuits. Specialization becomes a key focus, contributing not only to the team’s success but also advancing the knowledge base of the field.
**Level 5: Full-Time Strength & Power Coach or Reconditioning Coach or Sport Scientist:**
Specialization takes center stage at Level 5, where professionals may choose to become a Full-Time Strength & Power Coach, Reconditioning Coach, or Sport Scientist. Tailoring training programs to specific aspects of athletic performance becomes a defining skill. This level explores the evolving landscape of sports science, emphasizing the integration of cutting-edge methodologies for enhanced athlete outcomes.
**Level 6: Full-Time High-Performance Manager:**
Reaching the summit of the career ladder in elite sports strength and conditioning is epitomized by becoming a Full-Time High-Performance Manager. At this zenith, professionals oversee the entire high-performance program, making critical decisions and setting the strategic direction for the team. Leadership, decision-making prowess, and an in-depth understanding of the intricate relationship between science and sports define success at this level.
To learn these strategies in greater detail watch the below YouTube Video where Jack Mclean discusses this topic on his podcast:
In summary, each level on the career ladder is a stepping stone, building on the foundation laid before. Aspiring strength and conditioning professionals are encouraged to view their journey as a structured progression, each stage offering unique challenges and learning opportunities. By following this 6-level criterion, individuals can not only navigate but excel in the dynamic landscape of elite sports strength and conditioning. The climb may be demanding, but the view from the top is worth the effort. Keep pushing boundaries, honing skills, and embracing the challenges that come with each level. Success in elite sports strength and conditioning is not just a destination but a continuous journey of growth and excellence.
Jack McLean is the founder of Prepare Like a Pro. He loves coaching people so that they can reach their personal/professional goals and become the best that they can possibly be. He is currently the Strength & Rehab Coach of Melbourne Football Club and has worked as Strength & Conditioning Coach at Hawthorn Football Club. Jack is a Level 3 Australian Strength & Conditioning Association and Professional Coach and a Level 1 Australian Weightlifting Federation Coach.