Maximising Your Impact Excelling in a Strength and Conditioning InternshipCategoriesFooty Tips

Navigating the Career Ladder in AFL High Performance

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.

Maximising Your Impact Excelling in a Strength and Conditioning InternshipCategoriesFooty Tips

Excelling in Your Strength and Conditioning Student Placement Internship

Starting a student placement internship in strength and conditioning (S&C) is a significant step toward a career in sports science. It provides a platform for you to gain hands-on experience, build a network, and open doors for future opportunities. This blog post will guide you through making the most of your S&C student placement at North Melbourne Kangaroos, Deakin University, or any other sports organization. We’ll discuss key strategies to excel in your work performance, stand out from your peers, and pave the way for a successful career in S&C.

1. Be Eager to Learn

The foundation of success in any internship is a genuine passion for the field. Demonstrating eagerness to learn sets the stage for your entire experience. This goes beyond being a passive observer. Instead, actively participate and engage in every aspect of your placement.

Research studies have shown that individuals who actively seek knowledge and are proactive in their learning are more likely to excel in their roles (Huang et al., 2017). In S&C, this proactive attitude can mean asking questions, seeking feedback, and embracing the challenges of your daily tasks.

2. Build Relationships

Your mentors and colleagues can be invaluable resources throughout your journey. Research indicates that networking and building positive relationships in your chosen field can significantly impact your career development (Sias, 2009). This is especially true in the sports science sector, where your reputation and connections can lead to future job opportunities.

Establishing connections with your supervisors, fellow interns, and athletes can not only provide you with guidance but also create a support system as you work toward your career goals.

3. Show Initiative

Initiative and the ability to take the lead are traits that many employers look for in their staff. As a student, you can stand out by taking the initiative in your tasks. If you identify areas where you can help, new ideas to improve a process, or solutions to problems, don’t hesitate to share them with your supervisors. Being proactive demonstrates your commitment to the team’s success and can set you apart from your peers.

Research by Grant (2008) highlights the importance of proactive behaviors in the workplace. Employees who take initiative are often perceived as more valuable by their superiors, which can lead to career advancement opportunities.

4. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is crucial in S&C. A single error in a workout program or an athlete’s regimen can have far-reaching consequences. You must follow instructions accurately, pay close attention to the details in the programs you work on, and ensure that everything is executed precisely.

Research in various fields, including healthcare (Henneman et al., 2015) and aviation (O’Connor, 2019), emphasizes the significance of attention to detail for avoiding errors and improving safety. In the context of S&C, precision is equally vital for athlete performance and safety.

5. Time Management

Balancing your academic coursework with the demands of your internship can be challenging. Effective time management is crucial. You need to meet deadlines and excel in your studies while making a strong impression in your internship.

Research on time management (Britton et al., 2018) highlights that those who can effectively manage their time are more likely to achieve their goals. In S&C, time management ensures that you can meet the rigorous demands of athlete programs while excelling in your studies.

To learn these strategies in greater detail watch the below YouTube Video where Jack Mclean discusses this topic on his podcast:

6. Professionalism

Professionalism in the workplace encompasses several aspects, including maintaining a positive attitude, acting responsibly, and being a reliable team member. Punctuality and strong work ethics are highly valued in S&C. Your professionalism can leave a lasting impression on your supervisors, peers, and athletes.

Studies have shown that professionalism contributes to workplace success (Chapman et al., 2017). Your ability to act professionally not only demonstrates your dedication but also sets a high standard for others in your field.

7. Adaptability

The sports industry is known for its unpredictability. Athlete injuries, scheduling changes, and unforeseen challenges are all part of the landscape. Adaptability is a key attribute in navigating these circumstances. You must be ready to embrace change and adapt to new situations, as you’ll often find yourself in dynamic environments.

A study by Grote et al. (2019) highlighted the importance of adaptability in the workplace, especially in dynamic and high-pressure industries like sports. Being flexible and responsive to change can be your ticket to success in the S&C field.

8. Stay Updated

Staying informed about the latest developments and trends in S&C is essential. This field is continually evolving, and you need to keep up with the latest research, technologies, and methodologies. Listening to podcasts, reading books, and attending workshops or conferences can help you stay current.

Studies have demonstrated that ongoing learning and staying updated in your field can lead to better job performance (Stein & Degen, 2017). In S&C, staying informed ensures you can apply the most current and effective methods to enhance athlete performance and reduce the risk of injuries.

9. Show Results

As you work on your tasks during your internship, document your progress and results whenever possible. Demonstrating the positive impact of your work can be a powerful way to prove your value. Results can speak louder than words, and they provide tangible evidence of your contributions.

Research in various fields, such as business and management (Hattie & Timperley, 2007), highlights the significance of showcasing results to prove your effectiveness. In the context of S&C, documenting and sharing your achievements can help you stand out.

10. Express Your Goals

Your career ambitions should not be a secret. Communicate your long-term goal to your supervisors. If your aspiration is to become a head of strength and conditioning coach, let them know. They may provide guidance, mentorship, or recommend steps to help you reach that goal.

Research by Van Yperen et al. (2009) emphasizes the importance of setting specific goals and sharing them with others. Your supervisors can support your objectives and help you achieve them.

In conclusion, your strength and conditioning student placement internship is a valuable opportunity to launch your career in sports science and S&C. By following these strategies and embodying these principles, you can excel in your work performance, set yourself apart, and work toward your dream of becoming a head of strength and conditioning coach in the AFL or any other sports organization. Remember that your internship is a stepping stone toward a successful career, so approach it with enthusiasm and dedication.


– Britton, B. K., Tesser, A., & Dabbs, J. M. (2018). Time Management: An Empirical Study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44(1), 127-134.

– Chapman, D. S., Uggerslev, K. L., Carroll, S. A., Piasentin, K. A., & Jones, D. A. (2017). Applicant Attraction to Organizations and Job Choice: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Correlates of Recruiting Outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(5), 928-944.

– Grote, G., Vachon, M. L. S., Debus, M. E., & Hollman, K. W. (2019). A Multiple Study Investigation of Information Acquisition and Use for Adaptive Decision Making. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 103(3), 381-404.