Developing strength and conditioning coach skills can set a good coach apart from a great one, and clients will only want to work with the best of the best. Coaches need to be highly skilled to guarantee their client’s success within their chosen sport or activity.

At OriGym, we are here to help you gain the key skills needed to hit the ground running in the fitness industry. In this article, we discuss:

But before we begin, if you have a passion for all things fitness and want to put it to good use then why not sign up for Personal Trainer Diploma? Not only do we deliver the highest standard of fitness education across the UK, but we also offer unlimited career support and development as well as a guaranteed post-course interview. 

If this sounds good, download our FREE course prospectus or drop us an enquiry today to learn more about what we offer. 

Strength and Conditioning Coach Specialist Skills

If you want to become a strength and conditioning coach, you’re going to need a set of specialised skills that will allow you to flourish within your working environment. This section is dedicated to looking specifically at the hard skills that are closely related to the role at hand.

#1 –  In-Depth Knowledge of Fitness and Anatomy 

Our list of strength and conditioning coach special skills begins with a theoretical skill that you must master if you wish to enter this working profession. 

An in-depth knowledge of both fitness and anatomy will inform you on how to implement the best training programmes to improve the area(s) of fitness that a client wishes to focus on. You can learn more about what these may be in our guide on the 11 Components of Fitness.  

For example, if you’re currently working with a gymnast who is looking to improve their performance, you will need this knowledge to determine how to structure a specialised exercise programme that will improve their balance and upper body strength in the way they require it to.

But how do you attain such knowledge before entering the strength and conditioning field?

At OriGym we recommend completing a Level 3 Personal Trainer Diploma, which combines your Level 2 Fitness Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer qualifications into one course!

The diploma will help you understand how the human body works, and the ways diet and nutrition influence performance, and finally, provide you with knowledge to tailor programs to meet clients’ goals.

Without the initial education that the two certifications provide, employers simply won’t consider you for vacancies. 

#2 – Experience 

The term ‘experience’ can be viewed as a collection of strength and conditioning coach skills, rather than just one specific example. Now, as you can expect it’s hard to get strength and conditioning coach experience when you’re just starting your career, which is why many newcomers choose to work as a personal trainer first.

This experience ultimately boils down to the clients you have worked with. If you choose to initially follow a personal trainer career, then you will have access to a large client pool. 

How these different PT clients operate will act as your foundational knowledge base, ready to launch your career in strength and conditioning.

If you choose to initially pursue personal training, we advise you to work with anyone you can. Don’t be afraid to take on challenging clients, as this will improve your overall experience and make you a stronger coach in the long run.

#3 -Adapting to Every Client

When it comes to strength and conditioning, a coach’s special skills repertoire should involve adaptability, which will naturally improve over time with growing experience.

As your number of clients increases, so will your confidence. In turn, you will learn how to adapt to suit any client’s specific needs and requirements such as their skill level or personality type. 

Naturally, those who are highly skilled will likely exceed in training and may require a more challenging programme. Whereas others may lack motivation and confidence, requiring a more detailed plan and guiding approach. 

Adapting a programme can be achieved in a variety of ways, for example, you could pick up on physical and verbal cues for clients who may be either struggling or surpassing expectations.

By doing this you will know how to regress or progress a client’s training. This effectively allows you to take immediate action when amendments are required to a client’s workout, be they simple or complex overhauls. 

With a Level 3 Personal Trainer Diploma, you’ll learn to adapt to every client as you discover the best programs to write for special populations such as the elderly, those experiencing obesity, and pregnant women.

#4 – A Meticulous Mindset

A meticulous mindset is a key skill that a strength and conditioning coach should have, however, many unconsciously overlook this and that is to the detriment of their career. 

When working as a PT you have wiggle room when creating workouts for your clients. However, strength and conditioning coaches need to take a more structured approach to tailor training programmes. 

Attaining and developing this skill will involve analysing the past performance of an athlete, to determine whether they need advanced or regressed training. From this point, you will need to meticulously measure the proposed programme ensuring everything is as detailed as possible.

When creating a tailored programme, coaches with this particular mindset should be questioning how to quantify a client’s success. This can be achieved by measuring details such as the amount they lift or the number of repetitions they perform. 

#5 – The ‘Coach’s Eye’  

The phrase coach’s eye is commonly used to describe a specific set of strength and conditioning coach skills, which refers to a coach’s ability to quickly pick up on mistakes that the client is making. 

By developing this strength and conditioning coach special skill you will be able to offer corrections about topics such as body positioning and overall exercise form. 

This is where completing our Level 3 Personal Training Diploma pays off, as with this certification you will participate in advanced anatomy classes which encompass lessons on correct exercising form and technique. 

However, with that being said, you should never take theoretical knowledge as your only source of information as every athlete is different and may not conform to taught stereotypes.

Some of the mistakes that certain clients make will not be documented or contextualized in classes or resources. Therefore the only way to further develop your coach’s eye is to gain first-hand practical experience in the job role. 

Thankfully, there are easy ways you can practically develop this skill.

Firstly, when you’re looking to develop your strength and conditioning coach’s special skills we strongly advise you to train everyone you can. Working with a small pool of clients won’t benefit you in the long run. Instead, you should expand your horizons by training a variety of individuals, as you will gain knowledge of how different athletes work and the mistakes they can potentially make. 

It may be particularly beneficial to train a large group of athletes at once to see how different individuals’ bodies operate. Another way of developing your coach’s eye is to interact with other coaches. This can involve sharing stories and past experiences with different clients to help each other develop. 

Finally, we strongly encourage you to use the internet as a resource of knowledge which you’re consistently using for reference. Read around the topic, watch YouTube videos and engage with social media discourse, all in the name of developing your coach’s eye.

When it comes to strength and conditioning coach skills it is of utmost importance that you prioritise the development of the coach’s eye. Without this ability, you will simply not be able to progress or develop on your chosen career path.

You can learn this skill 

#6 – Communication  

Developing strong communication skills is a vital requirement for just about any job within the fitness industry, however, it’s particularly important when acting in the role of a strength and conditioning coach. 

So, why is communication considered to be a necessary strength and conditioning coach skill? 

This all relates to the precise nature of the training, as a coach you need to carefully relay all your proposed ideas regarding the training programme over to your client, before ensuring they understand every aspect of what’s been laid out before them.

Additionally, you must be willing to communicate with clients to discuss any insecurities regarding your proposed programme. This may involve creating a proposed plan of action to address an issue, to ensure clients stay on track and remain confident. 

#7 – Willingness to Learn

As a coach you can’t be content with staying stagnant within your role, you need to be constantly building upon your existing knowledge and experience. 

When you’re looking to develop this strength and conditioning coach special skill you will need to have a sense of self-awareness to separate yourself from your professional work, and to determine what your weak points are. 

From this point, you need to decide how you’re going to address any issues and whether it’s an easy fix or will require a greater deal of attention. 

For example, collaborating with athletes and other coaches is a great way to improve key skills a strength and conditioning coach should have. This process allows a different set of eyes to pick up on weak points that you may not even be aware of. 

Identifying your weaknesses often goes overlooked in favour of developing new key skills a strength and conditioning coach should have. However, if you wish to find long-term success you must be willing to turn your coach’s eye inward to analyse your practice. 

Now that you have a better understanding of the more complex skills required of this job role we can now turn our attention to soft skills for strength and conditioning coaches.

Soft Skills for Strength and Conditioning Coaches

‘Soft skills’ is a phrase used to describe personality traits that allow someone to interact with others on a friendly and personable level. About the key skills a strength and conditioning coach should have, these traits typically relate to how trainers interact with clients and co-workers.

#1 – Be Personable 

If you want to find long-term success as a strength and conditioning coach you’re going to need to understand what your clients want and adapt your teaching and personality to this.

If the athlete requires gentle encouragement and somebody they can have a friendly relationship with then be that person, and make sure they feel comfortable and reassured at all points of their training.

Likewise, some athletes may require a more forward approach with very little friendly interaction, in favour of a professional relationship. However, if this is the case remember there is a thin line between encouragement and being too forceful, always check in on your client to make sure you’re not being too forward.

If you can be the coach that the athlete desires, that will strengthen your relationship, ensuring that you develop a sense of trust as someone worth listening to.

#2 – Get To Know Your Clients 

Part of being personable is developing a knowledge of your clients, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them so you’ll need to retain some information about their personal lives. 

This is one of those strength and conditioning coach skills that is a common human courtesy, but you should at the very least remember all client’s names and some information about their lives.

If you struggle to remember names then you need to think of a solution, as calling a client by the wrong name can be quite insulting. Many professional coaches recommend picking nicknames for clients or choosing a rhyming system e.g. Jake the Snake.

Likewise, if you can remember just one detail about your client from the previous session it will make them feel more comfortable in your presence.

Learning how to develop a professional relationship with clients is one of the core values we teach in our Level 4 Personal Trainer course. This is why we advise you to work within the industry before becoming a strength and conditioning coach, as the experience will be to the benefit of the client and trainer alike.   

#3 – Be Confident In Yourself

To be someone worth listening to you will need to be self-assured. No athlete will want to work with someone who is second-guessing their teachings or is getting thrown off by their environment.

The first piece of advice we can give is to be clear and concise with what you want your clients to do. By keeping your words simple and direct you’re less likely to confuse the client. 

On the topic of using your voice, we would advise you to speak up whenever possible. Gyms are noisy places filled with music and other booming voices, and to maintain a client’s attention, you may need to speak up to command attention. 

Speaking at your normal volume will just result in your voice being drowned out and painting you as someone who is timid and cannot retain their client’s focus. 

#4 – Choose a Mentor 

Naturally, coaches who have been in their job role for several years will have their distinct style of training, but this didn’t come to them overnight, it takes years’ worth of experience to find your own personal style and niche. 

So, what do you do when you’re just starting and have yet to carve out your own identity?

We strongly advise finding a mentor to adapt their style to suit your approach. This role model does not necessarily need to be someone you’ve met in person, and can also be a blogger/influencer/TV personality that you admire. 

When walking into your first-ever session carry yourself with the same confidence that your mentor would. Leave all thoughts of doubt or nerves at the door, and go into your class ready to teach your athletes. 

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Strength and Conditioning Coach Responsibilities

Now that we have covered the key skills a strength and conditioning coach should have, we can now turn our focus towards the responsibilities of the job role. 

Please remember that not every job is the same, certain ones may require more or less of you. 

#1 – Tailor Training Programmes

When working as a strength and conditioning coach on a professional level you will be required to assist in designing training programmes for athletes.

Typically, this will be done under the supervision of the head coach who will have the final say over the final design. 

This training programme will naturally revolve around strength, conditioning, and weight training that is specifically designed to optimise an athlete’s chosen sport. Additionally, the training should also seek to minimise the risk of injuries occurring. 

You will need to use your coach’s eye to evaluate what the athletes can and can’t do. This information will then need to be relayed to the head trainer, for an accurate training programme to be made.

What’s more, if athletes struggle with their programme then a strength and conditioning coach needs to be able to adapt the programme on the go. 

Tailoring workout routines for clients is an important skill to develop for anyone who is looking to work with the general population in the fitness industry. If this is a skill you wish to acquire then we recommend enrolling in our Level 3 Personal Training Diploma, where you will develop a basic understanding of adapting a session to a client.

#2 – Evaluate The Athletes 

Many of the key skills a strength and conditioning coach should have all relate to evaluating athletes. By executing this particular task you will be able to significantly improve your overall performance.

The term evaluating athletes refers to the process of observing how clients train, practice and perform within their chosen sport. A coach needs to assess all of these areas in conjunction with said athletes’ previous records, to assess strengths and weaknesses. 

Therefore, when it comes to strength and conditioning coach skills, the coach’s eye is a requirement for accurately evaluating athletes. 

An athlete will not pick up on their own mistakes and will therefore depend on their coach to perform an accurate evaluation, for the sake of their health and performance levels. 

#3 –  Maintain an Athletes Records

Knowing your clients is a soft skill that all strength and conditioning coaches should have, as 

It will help you to maintain a concise record of your client’s fitness history.

This particular job role is by far the most important as it can affect an athlete’s entire training programme. Here the strength and conditioning coach must keep a detailed and accurate record of the athlete’s performance, all of which must be updated regularly.

This record will allow the head coach to tailor a plan that is specifically designed for an athlete’s current fitness level, rather than have it created with outdated information.

Inaccurate records can lead to training that is too challenging or too easy for clients, which would significantly impact their overall performance. Training that is too easy could leave an athlete feeling stagnant, unable to grow or develop in their practice, likewise training that is too hard could result in injury and potentially time spent away from their chosen sport. 

This is why it’s so important that you know the athletes you’re working with, as your recordings can greatly impact the training they receive.

#4 – Administer Test

To ensure that an athlete’s information is up to date and accurate, strength and conditioning coaches will have to perform regular tests on their clients, with the information acquired being used to develop an accurate training programme.

Some strength and conditioning coaches may work with a team of athletes, however, these tests will always focus on the work of individual athletes. To execute these tests successfully, you will need a keen coach’s eye, to analyse how each athlete performs on the test.

Who Needs a Strength and Conditioning Coach?

Strength and conditioning coach skills are best put to use with certain groups of clientele, but who would benefit the most from sessions with these experts? 

The answer is rather simple, as discussed earlier in this article strength and conditioning coaches typically work with professional athletes and those who are about to enter a competitive environment. 

These clients will be looking to build a significant amount of muscle mass, through strategic training designed to complement their chosen sport. You will be using strength and conditioning to coach special skills with clients who share the same or a similar end goal.

This makes strength and conditioning coaching somewhat exclusive, as you have a very specific niche of clientele that is not typically as accessible as a personal trainer is. 

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What Qualifications Are Needed to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach?

If you’re looking to become a strength and conditioning coach then the fastest way to do this is to first become a gym instructor with OriGym. This will allow you to enter the fitness industry with foundation-level knowledge, acquiring skills that you can use throughout your career. 

Once you have acquired this certification, we strongly advise you to put the knowledge you have acquired towards a Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification.

You can achieve both of these qualifications through one course by enrolling on a Level 3 Personal Trainer Diploma.

Think of this as the next stepping stone on the path to becoming a strength and conditioning coach, that will allow you to further your understanding of the human body and its physical capabilities.

Level 3 Personal Trainer Diploma: 

Throughout this article, we have stressed the importance of acquiring a Level 3 Personal Training Diploma to build your confidence and relevant vocational skills. Both of these will be achieved through studying modules such as:

  • Advanced Anatomy & Physiology For HealthWhere you will develop an elite knowledge of how the human body works. This will help you in the development of your client’s training programmes. 
  • Nutritional PrinciplesThis will cover how specific diets will affect your training programme. Clients will naturally have different eating habits, so knowing how this influences their overall performance will benefit you when pursuing strength and conditioning.
  • Programming Trainer SessionsThis module will inform you on how to design personal training sessions that are both fun and innovative, designed to improve the physical condition of your clients. You will also learn the vital skill of tailoring sessions around clients who have disabilities or special requirements. 
  • Personal Trainer Delivery Here you will learn about how to motivate your clients, guide them through goal-setting and more. Essentially, this module will endow you with the knowledge and confidence to lead your sessions.
  • Demonstrating LeadershipTo successfully work with clients, you need to be somebody they look up to. This will further help your ability to lead by example, and to be a trusted advisor and supportive figure to said clients.
  • Learning The Business – Working in the fitness industry is so much more than just physicality, you will need to learn how to optimise your business whilst maximising your marketing potential. This module encompasses all of this teaching you how to run and operate a successful personal trainer business.  

Additionally, the great thing about studying with OriGym is that this course is recognised by CIMSPA and can be completed in as little as 2 weeks. Even better yet you have the opportunity to choose how you study out of our three learning options.

#1 – Full-Time/Fast Track/Classroom Learning 

This course will be taught through attending classroom sessions in one of our venues in Liverpool, London or Birmingham. Here you will obtain both practical and theoretical training all of which are taught by industry professionals.

When pursuing this method of study you will be assessed in the following ways:

  • Multiple choice exam on anatomy and physiology – 70% pass mark required
  • Multiple choice exam on the application of nutrition – 70% pass mark required
  • Practical assessment on delivering a customised personal training programme – Pass required
  • Coursework on programming with clients, smart goals, client screening, and progressive overview – Pass Required

#2 – Online

If you prefer to learn entirely virtually then our Level 3 Personal Trainer Course can accommodate this preference. By studying on this path you won’t need to attend any workshops or classes, except physical assessment.

There’s no completion time or restrictions on this pathway, but clients typically complete this in 16 weeks. You’ll learn via our custom-built, award-nominated e-learning platform which is packed with videos, online lectures, and interactive e-learning tools. 

The assessments for this pathway will be completed in the following method: 

  • Multiple choice open book online exam on anatomy and physiology – 90% pass mark required
  • Multiple choice open book online exam on the application of nutrition – 90% pass mark required
  • Practical assessment on delivering a customised personal training programme – Pass required
  • Coursework on programming with clients, smart goals, client screening, and progressive overview – Pass Required

#3 -Part-Time/Blended Learning 

This method of study combines aspects of both previously mentioned pathways, allowing you to learn both in-person and online. If you study through blended learning you still use the e-learning platform, whilst also having the option to attend as many workshops as you wish, in any of our locations across the UK and Ireland

Blended learning follows the same assessment method as online learning:

  • Multiple choice open book online exam on anatomy and physiology – 90% pass mark required
  • Multiple choice open book online exam on the application of nutrition – 90% pass mark required
  • Practical assessment on delivering a customised personal training programme – Pass required
  • Coursework on programming with clients, smart goals, client screening, and progressive overview – Pass Required

Following the completion of this certification, we advise you to get some experience in the working world. Not only will this look great on future job applications but it will also give you first-hand experience working with clients, allowing you to develop your skills as an instructor. 

For more information on how you can get a job within this field please read the article on how to become a personal trainer here

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Still looking to learn more, give these articles a read:

Job Prospects for a Strength and Conditioning Coach

Now that we have analysed the qualifications and skills a strength and conditioning coach should have, we can now share what potential career opportunities are available to you following graduation.

#1 – Working With Professional Athletes 

This is typically the route many strength and conditioning coaches go down, as it allows them to work directly with professional athletes such as Olympians.

Whilst this is a highly competitive market it is still by far the most lucrative, as on average coaches who work within this sector typically earn £32,000.00 a year. 

Many different athletes require strength and conditioning coaches, so working with professionals will allow you to become a jack of all trades by working in different sports. What’s more, in this role you will be one of many trainers, allowing you to develop your knowledge and grow as a coach.

#2 – Working at a Gym or Fitness Center 

With the rise of competitive competitions such as marathons and triathlons, recent years have seen many non-professional athletes seeking out strength and conditioning coaching. 

This is a fairly new market and thus the pay on average is lower than most strength and conditioning coaches working on a professional level. Typically this sector will pay an average of £20,000.00 a year according to GlassDoor.

This job role is ideal for those of you who have graduated from OriGym, as you can also incorporate your personal training certification into your teaching and take on personal sessions with clients.

Regardless of which direction you choose to take your career, you’ll be able to put your strength and conditioning coach skills to good use.

FAQ

Do Strength and Conditioning Coaches Need Insurance?

If you’re looking to enter the fitness industry as a strength and conditioning coach then it is wise to get insurance. This will protect you in case a client is injured when using one of your teachings, or if any of your equipment is damaged. 

At OriGym, we recommend using Insure4Sport to receive total coverage for:

  • A client damaging your equipment 
  • A specific action is brought into question if a client is injured 
  • You become injured during a session which means you’ll miss work
  • You require physio treatment for an injury suffered at work
  • Your equipment is stolen
  • An employee is injured during your session and claims compensation

The average quote from Insure4Sport will have you paying a monthly fee of £41.24 with a potential maximum payout of £1 million.

Can I Become A Strength and Conditioning Coach With a Pre-Existing Injury or Condition?

In short, yes you can still become a strength and conditioning coach with a pre-existing injury or condition. 

When applying for jobs in the fitness industry you will be required to disclose this information, as when working with professional athletes you may not be able to perform certain demonstrations and will thus need to work with other coaches.

Having a pre-existing condition or injury will have no impact on the development of the key skills a strength and conditioning coach should have. This industry is truly open and welcoming to everyone. 

Before You Go! 

At OriGym, we have dedicated this article to the development of our reader’s strength and conditioning coach skills. We hope that you now have a better understanding of how you can advance said skills to put them into practice within a working environment.

Remember, the special skills of a strength and conditioning coach take time to develop. This is a process that requires dedication and isn’t something that occurs overnight. 

Before you go, remember to check out OriGym’s personal training courses to learn more about how you can make a start on this career path. Here you will gain vital experience and skills required to find success within the world of strength and conditioning.

You can also download our latest course prospectus here or enquire with us today to get started! 

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About the Author: James Bickerstaff

james bickerstaff origym authour
James holds a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Film Studies and has recently gained a MA degree in Film, both of which he attained from Liverpool John Moores University. After taking up the couch to 5K challenge on a whim, James found a new passion for running, which he combines with his love for healthy cooking and writing. All of this led him to becoming a copywriter for OriGym.   When he is not writing content for the site, James can be found researching new recipes, writing music reviews, reading and watching latest film releases.  

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