The use of personal trainers by top-level high school football players has escalated in the past decade, with promising star recruits having up to three trainers in addition to their own high school team’s strength and and conditioning coaches.
This uptick in young athletes’ utilization of performance-based trainers, coined “the new hustle” in a recent USA TODAY article, has high school coaches scratching their heads over the need—and the effectiveness—of personal trainers beyond their own high school team’s strength and conditioning coaches.
Earlier this month, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) voted to make any high school athlete with an athletic record ineligible if he or she transfers to a school where a former or current personal trainer is employed.
“Personal performance trainers are typically utilized by players in need of individual instruction, because their team may not have an organized off-season program in place,” said Roger Harriott, St. Thomas Aquinas football coach, to USA TODAY. “I’m not entirely opposed to this form of individual training, but I’m a strong proponent of team training. In my humble opinion, I believe that it is more advantageous for players to work out with their coaches and teammates, in a collaborative, unified setting.
Within a high school strength training program, the S&C coach is the subject matter expert on muscle and body function and movement across all sports. Having a certified S&C coach on staff enhances the safety of student athletes, which is the primary job of all high school strength training programs. The S&C coach designs athletic workouts, as well as teaches the proper lifting, spotting and stretching techniques in order to reduce injuries.
“An S&C coach is professionally trained to identify when a student/athlete has limitations and needs a different approach to reaching a desired goal. When it comes to sport coaches training athletes, their limited knowledge of the actual science can put a student/athlete in harm’s way or they may instill bad habits that may hinder progress or injure an athlete after months or years doing incorrect movements,” said Stuart Venable, strength coach for Lincoln High School and president of USA Weightlifting for the state of Nebraska.
Thought strength and conditioning was all about enhancing muscular strength and size? It is—but as a natural byproduct of improving injury prevention in the weightroom with the right technique, the proper equipment and the best of the best professional staff. An injured player cannot possibly practice at 100 percent, let alone play at 100 percent—which is not only a blow to that student athlete’s hard work and heart but to the team as a whole.
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