Keir Wenham-Flatt is a Strength & Conditioning Coach, Consultant and Speaker. He is currently based in the USA, where he most recently worked at the The College of William & Mary, in addition to consulting with athletes and teams all over the world.
As a rugby strength and conditioning coach he has worked with 7 different professional teams in four different countries including Los Pumas Argentina (culminating in a 4th place finish at the 2015 Rugby World Cup), the 2014 World Club Champions the Sydney Roosters, Toshiba Brave Lupus in the Japan Top League and London Wasps in the English Premiership.
He has consulted with a number of high level teams and organizations including Arsenal Football Club, Northampton Saints, Shandong Province 7s, Oxford University Varsity Rugby, and Team EXOS (formerly Athletes Performance).
He holds a Master’s degree in strength and conditioning, and a Bachelor’s degree in sport science.
- Keir’s background in strength and conditioning and why he chose to stop working in a team-based setting
- How to strength and conditioning coaches really contribute to athletes’ success when so many variables contribute to “winning”
- What metrics/KPIs are indicative of a strength and conditioning staff’s worth to athletic departments
- Curriculum development for strength and conditioning coaches- what’s the low hanging fruit, what’s overemphasized, what’s underemphasized
- Credentialing- reconciling top down and bottom up processes to maintain quality without outsourcing everything to governing bodies
- Why is there such an aversion to coaches profiting off their products but not to large governing bodies monopolizing education
- What can the private sector teach team settings and vice versa
- How to spend less time “in the system” and more time working “on the system”
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Welcome to the Resilient Performance Podcast. I’m your host, Doug Kechijian. And today I’m joined by Keir Wenham-Flatt. Keir is a strength and conditioning coach, consultant and speaker. He is currently based in the U S. Where he most recently worked at the college of William and Mary. In addition to consulting with athletes and teams all over the world.
As a rugby strength conditioning coach, he has worked with seven different professional teams in four different countries, including Las Pumas, Argentina culminating in a fourth place. Finish at the 2015 rugby world cup. The 2014 world club champions, the Sydney roosters to Sheba, brave lupus and the Japan top league.
And the London wasps can be English, premiership. He has consulted with a number of high level teams and organizations, including arsenal football club, North Hampton, saints, Shang dog province, sevens, Oxford university, varsity rugby and team EXOS. He holds a master’s degree in strength and conditioning and a bachelor’s degree in sports science.
Having worked at the highest level of collegiate and professional sports. Kira has great insight into the state of strength and conditioning and the direction that field is going. We talk about the role strength, conditioning coaches play in wins and losses on the field. The difficulty of objective, quantifying a strength and conditioning coaches worth to an organization with so many variables involved and how to improve education for strength conditioning coaches.
We also discuss why gear decided to leave the team setting and work for himself. Kira, thank you so much for. Coming on. So you’ve been very outspoken about like the strength and conditioning as a system. And you have a lot of insights into how to make it better, but before we get into those things, would you mind just talking about a little bit about your work within the system, the level that you attained and then why you decided to leave and work outside the system?
Oh, okay. Well the usual, uh, thank you for having me. I should say very, very enthusiastic rugby player growing up. Um, Was absolutely rubby mad. The first time I got the chance to try and play for a rep team, I made it, I was a very undersized kid when I was like 14, didn’t make it 15. So I got cut after a year.
And, um, just a shout out to my, one of my rugby coaches back in the year, 2009 to Northern Baraka. And he unfortunately passed away last week, but I’ve told this story twice. And I said to him, you know, Norman. Why didn’t I make it and it was kind of harsh. He said, kid, they will, they want big, strong foster fit, rugby players.
And you are none of those things. So after I pull myself back together, I decide, right, I need to train. And I tried to train to make up for those deficiencies as an athlete. And I had an, I had another couple of corrects it, making it as a rugby player and it never really materialized, um, So I thought, right, well, I don’t want a real job.
I want to be involved in the highest level of sport that I can. So I decided to, as I got a passion for the training and the academics never really came difficult to me, undecided, right. Strength and conditioning, sports science kind of thing. So I had a brief detour to start a degree in psychology, uh, because I thought I should have done so many academic with my talents.
And then I realized that I hated it and it was time to reassess. So I. Got a degree in sports science graduated in 2008 realized to my horror that I was a researcher and not a coach. I’ve never coached a group of athletes. And there’s a very, very big difference in that. So I tanked in a number of interviews for pro sports organizations as an intern, and it took me two years of studying for a master’s degree.
Uh, working as a commercial personal trainer and a lot of rejection at interviews to get the opportunity to work for free. So I started working as an intern and professional rugby in 2010, and I’d basically been a strength coach ever since. So I did two and a half years at London wasps. I did a stint, uh, in the championship to get more experience because.
When I’d previously gone for other jobs, they said, Oh, Academy experience only. So I tried to plug that hole in my resume. I moved to Australia to go be poor and have a 10, as opposed to just pool. I’m very, very lucky. Did a volunteer stint with Argentina national team through a relationship I have with EXOS.
And they said it could be one week. It could be three months. It ended up being three months and they asked me to come back. And that actually led to me being offered a job in the NRL, but the Sydney roosters. Which was a disastrous six months of my career. Uh, some very, very hard lessons learned, but it culminated in me being my own replacement for Argentina.
So I went back through to the end of the 2015 world cup where we kind of like over over-performed and we were flavor of the month at the end of that. And that got me two years in Tokyo to cash out in the, uh, the top league in Japan. And basically at the end of that, I decided, right. I don’t want to do this anymore.
So I. Start things in motion to move to the USA and, um, decided that I want to work in the NFL and starting college football. So I worked at university of Richmond and then that got me hired to go to the college of William and Mary, where I was the coordinator of football performance until one month ago.
Yeah. And I only ask that just because, you know, obviously you’ve got a lot of thoughts about the state of strength conditioning, and a lot of people are very opinionated, but haven’t actually. Coach and you’ve coached at the professional level, the division one level. So just so just to kind of give more credibility to some of your, uh, your, your insight.
And obviously now you’re, you’re not coaching anymore. And you decided to, to leave, uh, college and professional sports and kind of pursue things on your own. So what kind of drove you to that decision? I think there’s a variety of things, but you know, when I’ve spoken to my interns, my assistants, and when I’ve like tried to.
I advise them because it’s always easier to give somebody else advice because you remove emotion from the equation. And I always think that when you’re, when you’re looking at a job, um, but like we’ve called it the four piece sometimes pay personal, um, purpose and progression. So. Does it, does it take financial problems off the table?
Does it build some kind of long-term security, uh, and you know, the foundation that you want for you and your lifestyle at that time? Um, does it improve the relationships that you have in your life or at least not make them any worse? Um, does it progress you towards the state career objective that you have?
Is it, uh, you know, the next logical step for you and do you derive a sense of purpose and meaning from the work? And I always say, if you have all four, you have the dream job, you should stay there until you die. You’ll get fired. If you have three, you should only leave for a job offers all four. If you have to actively be looking, and if you have one, you met, you made a mistake and just a variety of things that had to kind of come together.
Over the last year or so. One of which is, you know, single parent now. Um, it’s just the fact that if you’re going to be a strength coach, I think working in elite sport, and you’re going to have kids, you are going to be leaning heavily on a partner to, to help raise your kids because the two just do not go together and.
You know, I found myself in that situation last season, I had to fly my mother over on a days. Notice to help me out. I was working seven days a week and it was, you know, looking forward, could I have done it? I could have done it, but at what cost. And is it fair to my son, um, for me to pursue that when I can be pursuing other things that allow me to be a bigger presence in his life and more available and all that kind of stuff.
So that was the personal life in terms of the money. Um, thanks to the, the two years in Japan. I’ve not really needed the money urgently. You know, I figured out when I left Japan, I could, I could have not worked for eight years and just about made it, um, I’ve had the money coming in online and I’ve been lucky enough that that’s started to bear fruit a little bit and gain momentum and grow in the last year.
And if I’m really honest, it kind of got to the point where there was a competition for time between the private sector and the collegiate sector, which is okay, because I think. Certainly, if you put all of your eggs into the basket of collegiate, you’re setting yourself up to fail because you can be fired at the drop of a hat.
You will, you are the CEO of you. You have a customer list of one that business is run by an idiot. So it’s important to have that diversification of where you get your money from. But if one of them is growing rapidly and the other one takes up 80 hours a week, If that’d be worth it, you’ll dedicate and those 80 hours a week, because otherwise you’re putting your foot on the brake of the other thing that’s growing.
And for me, I decided that was not the case. So in terms of the career progression, I know I arrived in that job and said, right, I want to work in the NFL, the big co you know, if I’m, if I’m hiring me as a prospective coach in the NFL, I said, okay, well, you’ve never worked in this sport before, so you don’t know what you’re talking about.
You’ve never managed a team before. In any kind of level of football and, uh, the right people don’t know you. So going into that job, when the carrot is dangled in front of me, I’ve now taken all three of those things off the board. So a couple of, you know, to me, two years of doing a decent job is enough that I can do it.
I do know enough if I surround myself with good people like Scott, who I’ve mentioned to you before and, you know, starting to build that network. And I’m lucky that there are people. Within football. The, uh, some of them do care about what I have to say about some kind of stuff. So like, you know, there’s people in the NFL, you know, big colleges, stuff like that.
They’ve had conversations with in the last year and that’s been really, really good, but I’m not getting any more of it by staying in that job. No. And then the final one was, um, you know, the sense of mission and I made a real big deal out of. When I went to work at the college of William and Mary, I got to work with Eric cor and.
Six years previous, I was like holding up these documents in Argentina, but like, this is what we need to do. This is how we need to do it. What you laid out a Kentucky. And you know, if I’m honest, it’s probably, he’s one of the few people that I could work for and not be rolling my eyes the whole time about, Oh, you know, this guy doesn’t know he’s talking about.
And it was, it was great to work with him. Uh, and he decided to move on so that left, but then I still had great assistants. And then Scott got poached by the university of Arizona and we pushed him out the door and said, you know, this is a massive opportunity for you. You need to go. So he left and unfortunately those holes were not filled by the institution, which makes sense in a pandemic.
But if your stated objective is true high performance, and we’re going to win championships, and then you effectively double the workload of people that are there and you turn into Gold’s gym. There’s a disconnect between the two. And as I said, many times someone is going to win the league this year. It might as well be us.
Right. And that vision was not shared. Yeah. You talk about pay a little bit, and it seems like in strength and conditioning, and even in physio, I would say there’s kind of an aversion to talking about money and there’s a little bit of like a, a martyr complex. And I even see people, you know, because we’re kind of both active on Twitter in the field.
People will say things like, you know, well, If I’m hiring, you know, for a strength, conditioning position, like if the person asks about money, I immediately disqualify them from the pool of applicants. And I’m kinda like, you know, frankly, if I was interviewing somebody and they didn’t ask about money, I think they were like kind of an idiot.
I mean, it’s really like, no matter how much you, you, sugar coat, like you should do this because you love it. Like that’s a really important consideration. And if you’re pragmatic and you want to support yourself and your family money has to be discussed. So I actually kind of take the opposite extreme, and I’ll say like, If I’m going to hire somebody like to work in our physio clinic.
One of the first things that I would do is I would preemptively bring up money because I know it’s an uncomfortable subject. I don’t want, I think, I feel like the burden would be on me as the employer to bring it up. And like, let’s, let’s be transparent about this because I’ll, I should be able to justify like why I’m paying what I’m paying, why I’m offering it.
So, you know, you you’ve been in a position where you’ve, you’ve hired strength, other strength, coaches, like w w what is your position on. On the money subject, because again, I think people like, we don’t want to talk about it, but it’s kind of like politics and religion. If you don’t talk about it, then it’s going to be monopolized by the wrong people, that conversation.
So what’s, what’s kind of your position on that. Well, I’ll tell you the reason why you’re able to do it is because you are a private business and you, you can demonstrate the value. That an individual brings to your business. So it’s like that peer to peer thing of you, you have to create X, X value and capture a, a Y portion of that value.
And then what’s left over. Is your profit as the business owner? Yeah. Within, uh, certainly the collegiate sector and even, even the professional sector. The reason they don’t list the salary is because they’re going to try and Lobel that as much as possible because it’s so hard, I think to demonstrate conclusively, this is the value that I bring to the organization.
Yeah. I think if you do it in, in the collegiate sector, one of the biggest, most powerful things that you can point to and say, this is what I’ve influenced is insurance claims and subsequent effects on premiums. Right. Um, but it’s really hard to, to point to one variable and say, right, this is what I control.
Cause there’s always going to be other people in peripheral roles that also influenced that, that variable, um, when you’re in a private business, it tends to be a lot easier in that you can, uh, have, you know, customer reviews. You can have race of reinjury, you can have, you know, speed of return, all that kind of stuff.
Um, but the fact is, is that. When you kind of like dealing with that supply and demand of labor within the collegiate sector, the institutions know that there’s such a level of competition. The, if you say no, for the most part, they could fill that job tomorrow and that they’re actively encouraging that race to the bottom.
Because it’s shortsighted, but all institutions have an economic incentive to get the highest level of products or service they can for the lowest price. Sure. When the long-term view, in my opinion is when strength and conditioning coaches or, or let’s just say any members of interdisciplinary teams leave the data leaves with them and the lessons live with them.
And you start again from square one. So it’s an unfortunate fact, but that’s probably going to be the likelihood. What you need to do is make sure that you keep, if, if you win with people, attract the best people and keep them there, because that iterative process of learning the lessons and improving year by year, by year.
Is what’s going to lead you to a championship. And one of the ways that you can do that is by taking money off the table by paying more than your competitors. So long-term, I actually think it makes more sense to say, okay, you know, if this is what the, I’m not sure if it’s doing video, if this is what the industry is paying, we’re going to go above that.
And we’re going to make sure that you stay. Uh, so it’s, it’s kind of like, Institutions being smart enough and having the discipline to accept a short term hit for a long term game. Um, but yeah, it’s, it should be in your interest as an institution to talk about money because you, you want it a quick note.
You don’t want to do your due diligence on someone to say, Oh, tell me about this guy. You know, go through his references, interviewing twice and be like, Oh, you’re, you’re 20 grand under what I am right now. You’ve wasted your time, right? Yeah. I mean, I think like working at a clinic like ours for a physio would be a good experience, but I don’t think that we’re that special that like, if we offer.
Below market salary w that were worth working for. So, um, you know, no matter how much people can talk about these platitudes, like culture and building a team and a program, it’s like, we, we are compensated by money. And until we have a different compensatory scheme, like if there’s not, like you said, like the incentives don’t align there, isn’t some kind of alignment between the salary and the experience, then it’s, it’s all just it’s, like I said, it’s a platitude more than anything, but you kind of touched on the ability to.
To demonstrate value and then kind of like a more, a truer free market where there’s more competition, you can point a certain things. So I want to, I want to start like at a really basic level, like, and this something you’ve talked about a lot, what do might seem like an obvious question, but I think that we oftentimes overlook the obvious and we skipped from step a to step Z.
What exactly is it? Do you think that strength, conditionings do strengthen anything coaches do to help athletes? It depends on the level that you look at. This is the problem. All members of the all athletes stakeholders should, uh, pursue the organization’s stated mission, which should be to win. Yup. The problem is, is that.
If your product is for everyone, your products is for no one. So you can go, it happens in Japanese rugby. It happens in the collegiate sector. It does not happen in professional sport for the most part, but I’ll say, Oh, we want to win. And we also want to do good in the community. And we also want to educate people for the future and we want to do this and we want to do that.
And we want to, you know, generate revenue and. It’s that millimeter progress in a million different directions, but let’s, let’s just assume that the mission is to win. So once you’ve taken that step, you say, okay, what contributes to winning and it’s going to be, uh, on field performance and it’s basically going to be, be a PhD in your S in your sport.
And once you accept that fact, It’s tough for strength and conditioning coaches to come to terms with, because it means sometimes the numbers that you love to hang your ego on will go down, but the results on the field will improve. Right? So it can be very, very tough to do that. And it’s like, you, you have to simultaneously have the ability to zoom in and the ability to zoom out, because if you, if you zoom in and there are areas that you have complete control over.
Well, the illusion of complete control over as a strength and conditioning coach. So for example, maximum strength, even though recruitment, recovery, nutrition, stress load, and academics will all contribute to the ability to express strength. But let’s say that you can trust her. You can say I’ve done a great job.
Look at all these numbers. Go up. But then you zoom out and you say, well, actually has this transfer to sprinting jumping, cutting, and so on, and has this transferred to greater ability to execute the task with technical game plan and attacking defense, and has that translated to unfair results. And this is the problem with strength and conditioning, because it’s my belief that the, the easier it becomes to place a dollar amount on what it is that you do.
The easier it becomes to command a certain price. So for example, if you look at advertising back in the day, um, mass media advertising, it was like spray and pray, uh, buy ads for Pepsi, put them on the TV sales of Pepsi, go up, buy more ads. Repeat. But you can’t, you can’t pinpoint. And you know, they say, Oh, 50% of my marketing budget is wasted.
If only I knew which 50%. So they say, Oh, okay. Was it this ad? Was it this ad? Was it this ad? Was it this time slot? Was it this message? And they never knew. And that’s why Google has been so powerful in disrupting advertising because they leverage technology to answer those exact questions. So it was this ad placed in this way, phrased in this way with this call to action placed at this time, that resulted in the greatest return on investment.
And what’s more we can tell you to the cent, how much it costs for you to acquire a customer. So before with mass media advertising, if you say, all right, the cost per acquisition is $5 and you know that, you know, our, we spend on average. You know, a hundred thousand dollars a month and it brings in $200,000, you just basically like crossing your fingers.
But now with Google, this era, it costs $5 to acquire a customer. And we’re going to charge you anywhere up to $4 99, you’re still making money. So by improving, they’re able to capture a greater portion of that value. And that’s why Google has gone ahead. The harder it is. To say, right. You’re spending this and here’s what you gain.
The more onus there has to be on telling a compelling story to the person paying the money. Right. So, uh, it’s not to say that it can’t be done because otherwise Louis Vuitton handbags would not be a thing. But they understand that if you’re going to charge, I don’t know what it is. Cause I’m too poor.
Let’s say five grand, five grand for some luggage. You’re not a big handbag guy anyway, brand for some luggage, the cost a hundred bucks to make you better be telling a very, very compelling story to the person paying for it. And if you’re dealing with. Uh, a profession and a role where you cannot clearly point to it and say, I made that go up, or this is what I saved you.
The onus is on you to tell a very compelling story as a strength and conditioning coach. And I don’t think people are aware of that. Yeah. And so, I mean, you’re, you’re touching on what I think is a really important point. And that’s that’s I think in the abstract, the right answer is like, yes, we want to help the team win.
The problem as you alluded to is there’s so many variables. Involved in winning. And I mean, if somebody like, as a physio, I would say like how I can contribute to a team winning is, look, I don’t pick the talent, keep the talent available. So keep them on the court on the field. But I don’t control the sport practice.
I don’t, I don’t control the tactical strategic things in the game. I don’t control what those athletes do when they go home. Look, if they’re playing Nintendo wall night or they’re staying up all night and not recovering. So are we, should we just throw up our hands and say, look, well, we can’t objectively validate our worth.
So we just have to tell compelling stories or is there a way, like if you had a, an athletic director come to you and say, You know, what KPIs, what, what objective data. And I think that’s even a problematic term because what’s truly objective, right? There’s a subjective and a narrative component. They said, look, I don’t care about your BS stories.
Like what data can you point to, to validate your worth so that I, you know, I can be confident that I should retain you. Do we, and if you say, no, I don’t have an answer like that. That wouldn’t surprise me because I don’t know if there’s an answer, but how would you even attempt to kind of tackle that question?
I’ve, I’ve thought about this and it’s like true objectivity. No, it’s not going to happen. However, do you agree with the statement that if, if you go out on Saturday and they put 50 points on you as a collective, the system has not worked. Conclusively. Yes. Right, right. So if, if we accept that kind of like interrelated nature sure.
Of the system as a whole, we should be incentivized as a whole. So to me it seems very, very messed up because you know, a good strength and conditioning coach can make it a sport coach looks smarter than they might be. And vice versa. Typically in the other direction, you have a lot of sport coaches out there that make that strength and conditioning coaches look like geniuses.
But if their fate lies in each other’s hands, there should be, uh, incentives as a collective. So it’s a broken system to me. I think you say, Oh, you know, you see all these like coach contracts, like, Oh, if you score this many points, this many touchdowns, uh, this many games, if you make a bowl game, all of these guys over here are going to get bonuses, you know, to the nth degree.
And all of these guys are going to get absolutely nothing. So I think if it’s good, if you accept the interrelated nature of sport performance and everyone is influencing you everything, when they do well, you should do well. When they do that, you should do better. Yeah. And you’ve talked about how, like, the harder that one’s job is to quantify objectively, then the more you’re con contingent upon people actually liking you.
Yeah. So, you know, you often hear about it and there was a time even before understood this stuff. And you’ve kind of brought a lot of this delight where, you know, you’d hear about like strength and conditioning coaches who would attach themselves to a technical coach. And like, you know, this, this SNC coach has this head coach has guy or girl.
And I used to kind of like. Almost resent that now I’m like, you know what? That’s like, that’s smart. If the only this is so based on kind of like narratives and stories, they’re doing what they have to, to survive and like really, I mean, you know, you can make a case that getting a head coach to like you, especially a well-known and a prominent head coach.
It’s probably way more valuable to your career than being able to get athletes to one faster, higher, and squat more, even though those things are important and they have some carry over to winning from a survival standpoint, getting, getting an important person to like you, it’s probably the best thing you could do as a coach, which is kind of like, it’s not what we want to hear, but it’s, I don’t know.
Is that like eight, eight? Yes, it is. If you’re going to write it on the way up, you have to write it on the way down. So I, you know, I know, I know someone who. You know, this guy was, uh, in, in fairness to him, it’s, it’s been a number of years, but the initial, my initial experience of his work and seen the level of job that you got, you’re like, Hmm.
There’s like, you know, this doesn’t really make sense, but he was well liked by the right people. And the promotion track was this. And he just got dropped for somebody that has never worked a day in team sport. Literally, and this is like high level sport, but whatever the person signing the checks decided was important.
This guy’s got it. You’re out. So it’s like, if you’re willing to accept the downside by all means, enjoy the upside. Or you can say, you know, I am going to, I’m going to try and position my affairs in such a way that if you like me, it’s great. And if you don’t, I’m still okay. Yeah, you and I have both been influenced by James Smith and the, you know, the governing dynamics of coaching and kind of this idea that, you know, there should be this seamless integration between physical preparation and technical and tactical.
But is this, does this exist anywhere that you’ve seen or is this more of like a dream? Like we’re all kind of chasing the dream, but unless you have total control and like, actually one of the nice things about my setting, like outpatient sports, physical therapy is. If I have somebody and they’re not in season, I can actually do all those things.
I’m not like structuring their practice, but you know, the kind of the, the pinnacle of our field is like to work in pro sports. But the irony of it is like in pro sports and even , you actually have less control and less oversight over all those things that, that matter. So is anybody actually like working in this kind of utopian environment, or is it more of just something that we kind of fantasize about?
I forget which one of the documents is in the founding of the U S but you talk about like a more perfect union. It does not exist. It doesn’t mean you should throw up your hands and give up, um, that you can absolutely move more in the right direction. Okay. So this, this is the problem with particularly professional sport.
Is that when you work in professional sport, Good things take time, but you’re on a fixed duration contract and you best not produce producing results. Otherwise you’re never going to get the opportunity to see that project through to a completion. So you have to strike the appropriate balance, but basically.
You either need to set up the structure of the organization in such a way that you have somebody with the, with the authority and the understanding of what needs to be done, or you’re going to have to have somebody that’s a master politician to firstly, make those people one understand, because if you don’t understand it, you can’t implement it.
To care because just because they understand it doesn’t mean they agree with you. Okay. Three a half the technical understanding about how to realize that has changed in the real world and then for the self control and the discipline to see it through. And those are four very different things and they have to proceed one another.
So where, where I’ve seen it go wrong. Is that, and I’ve probably done it wrong. Yeah. I probably have, yeah, come in and say, right. Here’s what practice needs to look like. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And all the things that you’re going to say, like on, on the pitch, on the field, on the court, when the guy that’s actually in charge doesn’t know care and thinks that he’s right.
It’s typically, so again, it’s like short term versus long term. You, you have to take the long-term view. And you have to try to eat select individuals that can step outside of themselves and look objectively at what is true. And what’s not true. Or you have to set that up a culture in such a way that people can be challenged on their beliefs and the, as a group you can kind of like have, uh, the goal of.
Arriving at the truth through discourse and debate, but you know, it’s like I keep calling it, but it’s life you have. If you, if you have a 51 49 split, that’s called a majority. If you have a 75, 25 split, that’s called a super majority. And if you have a 99, one split, that’s called a dictatorship. Yeah. So the idea that there’s not going to be disagreement and discourse is frankly bullshit.
Yeah. So I think once what’s a strength conditioning coaches, like either working in college sports or pro sports, it becomes very difficult to like quantify the contribution to winning. But I think what’s probably a little bit more clear to talk about. It’s also something that you’ve been outspoken about is education for coaches.
So in your opinion, kind of what’s the low hanging fruit and strength conditioning education, and what’s kind of what’s under-emphasized and what’s overemphasized in your opinion. What’s what’s under-emphasized is the understanding of what actually moves the needle. You, I get it. And, you know, I had a conversation with Mike Boyle about this.
I did a podcast elsewhere that he listened to and he very nicely messaged me private. When he said, you need to be extremely careful because you’re talking about like what we do, doesn’t make a difference and that you don’t care about physical prep and. I think he misconstrued or misconstrued what I was talking about, which is not to say that we don’t make a difference, but it, we, we help them buy the ticket to the dance.
We’re not doing the dance. Awesome. So what I it’s, it’s understandable that you are, uh, just for reasons of self-worth and self-importance that you’ve been to place, uh, An oversize amount of importance on your area. Everyone does it. I’m winning this championship from blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But you know, you see it all the time with strength and conditioning coaches will leave successful clubs and they’ll remain successful clubs or strength and conditioning coaches will stay and they’ll experience a change in sport coaches and the fourteens will dramatically improve or decline.
That should give you some kind of, uh, information as to just how influential you are on, on sport results. So understanding what truly moves the needle in sport performance again. So you mentioned zoom out when you zoom out, what, what makes the difference money? That’s it, money and culture? Uh, the culture generates the money, but if you have Manchester city, they have demonstrated this quite capably.
If you have sufficient money, you can, uh, recruit, develop and retain the best people. And it’s the people, because some people are so good. If you just get out that way, they’re gonna, they’re going to succeed anyway. And then if you can take super, super talented individuals and make them masters of their sport.
They’ll do even better. So then it’s tactical technical and it’s probably going to be a psychological preparation, which again can be recruited and it can be developed, but basically minimizing the differential between your best day and your worst day should be the objective in the execution of the tactical technical game plan.
And then it’s going to be. Training those, those technical skills that are basically the building blocks of a game plan. And then it’s just a case of adding intensity to those skills in the form of physical preparation. And probably more than that is to ensure robustness because all things being equal, whoever practices, the most wins.
And there’s a lot of caveats to that, but it’s just true. You know, there’s a reason that, uh, Thailand is the best country in the world. Uh, more tight and it’s nothing to do with escort sites. So it’s cause they kicked people in the face from the age of three and they do it every day and they have the talent.
So if you accept that model, you have to accept the fact that you actually very low down. On the, the, the ladder of importance you’re on, you’re on one of the bottom rungs. It’s important because all things are not equal. And sometimes you’re going to have a significantly better availability and all that kind of stuff.
But you have to understand where you fit in the big picture, because it happens all the time. But guys, you know, doing this pattern themselves in the back of our, Oh, we set all these PRS and season. Okay. At what cost. You know, you generate fatigue there that could have been dedicated to betta mastered the school, which has a con you know, a clear impact on game results.
Look at physiological variables in season. Uh, a swing of 10% in season is considered huge, huge. They stay fairly stable. You know, a fluctuation of 5% guys are going to be feeling pretty awesome or pretty shit. Yeah, the results in season vary wildly. So if the physiological variables are stable and the results vary widely, that tells you it’s not physio, physiological variables that are influencing results on Saturdays.
So why would you unnecessarily spend energy that could have been dedicated to the stuff that does impact performance in CS? So what needs to change in education is having Frank conversations about just what it is you do. Just how important it is to organizational institutional success and understanding, um, how you can best impact the stuff that does matter.
So to be discussing double knee bend and Olympic lifting. Uh, knee valgus in lending, all this kind of stuff, without understanding how to structure and paradise and on-field sport practice, or to communicate data to a head coach or to identify sporting talent, or even the most basic level to sprint. Uh, change direction, jump, land, throat, all this kind of stuff.
We’re, we’re putting the cart before the horse. Yeah. And so with that, when it comes to credentialing, you know, you hear these stories about people getting rhabdo and, and dying, running gassers and stuff like that. And oftentimes when we see those kinds of incidents, there is like a call for more strict credentialing, more education, more oversight from.
Centralized bodies. And I think that’s always kind of the knee jerk reaction. I don’t necessarily know if that’s what would make the profession better. How do we kind of reconcile, you know, top-down and bottom-up processes to, to maintain quality, but without completely outsourcing education to like one or two governing bodies.
Cause I think that there can be a problem when, you know, only like one organization has complete oversight over education. We’d like to believe that like there’s like this. You know, just master a group of people who are highly enlightened and ethical and incorruptible. And then if we just give them total control, that things are going to be better.
But I think that, you know, there needs to be some quality control obviously, but people have to be kept in check, you know, and I think that there’s some need for bottom up processes, which is what you’re, you know, you’re, uh, strengthened that work does. So how do we kind of reconcile that? Like how do we make the profession better from a top-down and a bottom up standpoint?
I mean, the big thing to me is like an uncoupling of accreditation and education. So we talked a little bit off air. Like I feel that there is a conflict of interest at the heart of a governing bodies right now, within strength and conditioning, despite the best intentions of, um, individuals involved.
Because the definition of a conflict of interest is you have multiple interests that have the potential for, or the actual conflict. So. Accrediting bodies serve the end consumer. They erect the barrier to entry, to discourage charlatans, and to ensure that whoever is consuming the product at the end of the day is, uh, protected.
So there is a, there is an incentive amongst, uh, credits is to raise the ball high because the quality of training goes up and it benefits the consumer. Without talking about, you know, diminished supply and all that kind of stuff, but there’s a reason people want, yeah. That you can’t see accreditation and they want the CSCs and they want this and they want that is because it’s scarce.
The value comes from the scarcity. Because what’s happened now, now we have the, uh, emeritus, we have this level and that level, you know why, because guess what? The CSCs is not special anymore. And the UK RCA is doing a monster creditation, cause it’s not special anymore. So the accreditors have an incentive to make it scarce and valuable educators serve people, taking the accreditation.
If you’re, if you’re an educator, you aren’t providing guidance to help people navigate that process. So that more people. Can poss and they tell their friends and it brings more business through the door. And then you do that and you keep going and going and going to go. So accreditors want less people to pass.
Educators, want more people to pass. If you are a governing body that oversees accreditation and education education, you civil tediously are okay with the fact that more people pass and less people pass. So if we’re, if we’re aligned, you’re a coach and I’m that governing body. If you pass congratulations, you’re going to tell your friends and bring in more money for the education that I’m going to benefit from.
And if you don’t pass, it benefits the consumer. And it benefits me as the gatekeeper because I’ve ensured that the qualification remains scarce and valuable. So if we play and every single time, whether you win or lose, I win. That’s an asymmetrical relationship to me that should not exist. So, you know, their reply is, you know, we said we’re a nonprofit.
Well, just because you’re a nonprofit doesn’t mean that you don’t want revenue because revenue is a great way to perpetuate your own existence, to maintain a dominant force within the industry. Especially if you’re the gold standard. Why would you want competitors coming in to take that worry from you?
So the idea that a non people operating within a nonprofit, do you not have incentives is forward. And the idea that well in the free market, anyone can help, uh, coaches prepare for this accreditation, with this assessment. But the fact is, um, if you write the test paper and you sell education, you’re an inherent advantage compared to other individuals in the marketplace.
It’s a monopoly. Because if I’m blind and you know, the answers who do you think is going to have an easier job of reverse engineering, the process of educating coaches to pass the accreditation. So if nothing else, to me, that needs to be an uncoupling of those two things. So I’m sorry. Go ahead. Yeah, no, but.
When, when there is an uncoupling, then there’s also kind of this, this aversion to people, you know, who do set up their own education courses where it’s like, well, this guy is like trying to profit off of education, but then like you said, the alternative is now you have, you know, the governing body is monopolizing the education and the testing.
Um, and they’re, you know, like profits become a dirty word in, in our field. Even if you put out a good product again, we talked about, I don’t get why there’s like this aversion to making money and we kind of romanticize working 80 hours a week for, for no pay. But for someone like you is very transparent about the fact that you make money off your courses and your, and your products.
What is your emphasis? Because obviously, I don’t think you would agree probably with everything that’s emphasized on some of these tests. Your goal is probably more to just create. What you think is, is, you know, the standard of, of what a strength coach should be. So w when you, when you put on a product, is your emphasis more on like getting people to pass some of these tests, or is it on what you would want, the kind of person that you would want to hire and in cultivating that type of person, like, what’s the, because this is a lots of it’s the latter.
Yeah. You know, I think I was trying to think how to phrase this, like in the private sector, The profit motive is an incentive to innovate. Now I’m not like I forget which economist that was, where it’s like, you know, the private sector is not going to solve everything and that the public sector is not going to solve everything.
But the profit motive, uh, is the, the incentive to compete. That’s why I put it out to Twitter. And along with that reason to article about conflict of interest, and I said, what have been the major developments or changes to the UK RCA assessment day in the last 10 years? And I got no bikes and somebody practically messaged me and said, zero, there’ve been zero changes.
These are the same people that for 10 years have been saying, Oh, well, we need to reform this. We need to change this. We need to do this. We need to do that. And yet there are no changes. Now I can tell you. 10 changes that I’ve made to strength coach network in the last year, because guess what? In a pandemic, you can’t see who’s naked until the tide goes out.
EV the tide went out financially this year and everyone’s like, Oh, I’m late. I’m living in a house built on sand. So now everyone wants to join private education. And I’m like, well, am I going to let that happen? Or am I going to try and innovate and put out that product coach network to fulfill needs within the market?
So. If, if you know, the employers only care about your qualification and it’s unlikely to change, what motive do you have to significantly ramp up your level of innovation and development and refinement of the product as it, you don’t have to. So it should be, you know, look at space X. Space X is a private company that somehow managed to, uh, launch a rocket into space for 5% of the cost of NASA.
That’s the impact that competition can have. Um, which again, if there’s an uncoupling between accreditation and education, the accrediting body can say, you know what? This organization, this business has jumped through sufficient hoops that we feel. Um, their course or whatever, or their, their materials constitute a sufficient level of qualification.
You can prepare them with education. We’re going to do the test. Once that would happen to me, the standard of education was significantly rise within strength and conditioning. Um, I am not going to train people how to prepare for. A qualification, but I feel ultimately is, is of little to no value. And certainly not.
When, like I said, it’s, it’s a bit of a monopoly. Yeah. And that profit motive is powerful. I mean, if you look at, even with the private sector has done with their response to COVID like, look at what the NBA did, how they managed to pull that off. And granted that’s not, that’s not scalable, but that’s not the problem the NBA had to solve.
They had to solve their own problem. And they did. I look at all of these restaurants in New York city doing outdoor dining and they have. Tents. They have partitions. Now they have, they have heaters, you know, cause they don’t do it. They’re going to go out of business. And I often wonder, like what would the response to COVID have been?
You know, if we were going to suspend politicians, pay and suspend their pensions, I feel like, you know, there’d be, there’d be much, much more robust response than, uh, than what we’ve had. And, and right now they can just point the finger at other other parties or, you know, the state people can point the finger at the feds.
Feds can point the finger at the States. They can bankrupt future generations, but. You know, a small business owner or a corporation that is self interested cannot do that. So, um, yeah, there’s gotta be obviously, you know, some, some balance between public and private sector responses, but kind of on that note, because you’ve kind of worked in both settings.
What do you think that the, the private sector and strength conditioning can teach team settings and vice versa? Like what do they both do well and what can each learn from one? No, I think. My biggest gripe about the public sector is it is almost impossible to get fired, almost impossible, you know, especially state institutions.
It’s, it’s kind of different and elite level school, but like this idea that basically once you’re in, you’re in. Because it kind of like when, when you, within reason when you don’t feel that pressure about, Hey, I need to produce, or, you know, I’m not really being objectively measured. And it’s mostly about being liked as long as you’re one of the good old boys you’re never going to get fired and that needs to be a risk and reward.
So what I feel happens a well in the real world is. When you expose yourself to large amounts of risk, like you’re a business owner, you’re going to expose yourself to the reward of, Hey, the business has gone well, and we’re making a lot of money, but guess what? If it doesn’t go well, you’re going to go out of business.
So you’re, you’re, you’ve, you’ve exposed yourself to the upside and the downside within reason, uh, in the public sector, there is very little downside or your, a lot more insulated against the downside. That’s um, what the public sector does well is I think when, when you have large amounts of money, large resources, large networks, you can create.
Bigger, possibly more successful systems, as opposed to like you’re scrabbling away, like sweat equity in the private sector. Like, Oh, how do we do this? How do we do this? How do we do this? Like when you, when you’re moving like large amounts of people in money, you can, you can gain momentum more quickly.
Um, but one of the biggest things that I w I, when I was at William and Mary, you know, somebody asked me, what is your strategic plan? And I sent it and I got no reply, but one of the things was. No more permanent employees because permanent employee means I’m disincentivized to push hard. Cause I know that I’m going to have a job regardless.
And I’m, um, I’m also not going to see a significant reward because there’s no bonus system in place, so, Oh, did you win? You get to keep your job. Did you lose? You get to keep your job. So I don’t care on the downside and I’m not motivated on the upside. So one of the things I said was fixed duration, contract, heavy incentives, and agreed upon key metrics because what happens in college sport is they’ll change the metric.
According to the argument that they want to make coming in your job is to when you start trying to win and upsetting people in the process and say, hang on, nobody likes this. I said, I thought you told me to win. Um, I think
it’s primarily that, which is like, if you do win with people, you need incentives to attract them. You need to cultivate them and spend money and you need to incentivize them to stay. And it isn’t always about money. Like I’ve talked about Saracens, UK rugby, where. The wage cap in French rugby. It may, it may be the same now, but at the time I had the conversation with somebody, the wage gap was four times higher in France and it wasn’t a UK, so they can’t pay the money officially that they’ve been a little bit shady, but they made a point of when they recruited players from France.
And I know a number that signed that, the first thing they said was, Hey, we can’t match the salary, but we’re going to. Uh, put on lunch for the wines every day. We’re a family. You’re going to bring your family and we’re going to eat together. When it take all these trips, we’re going to put you through college.
You’re set up at the end of your career. We’re going to provide childcare. If there’s anything that we can do for your wife, you know, put them in a social setting, stuff like that. And they said, we’re going to compete on everything that has nothing to do with money. And I feel as a private business that I that’s one thing that I tried to do.
At William and Mary say, Hey, we’ve got their money. Okay. How much is it to go get a couch so that they go somewhere to lie down. Let’s make the showers nice. Let’s do this. Let’s do that. If we can get them out of the building half a day per week to go work on a personal project, that’s something they’re not going to get anywhere else.
That’s one thing that I tried to today. Yeah. On that note, as far as like, you know, when you, when your budget is constrained and how to improve the quality of lives of the people on your staff, one thing I’ve heard you talk about that I really haven’t seen anybody else talk about as kind of the. Like the logistical and the, the equipment set up and how that can you can, you can, if you do that properly and efficiently, you can actually free up people’s time.
So they’re not co you know, they’re not coaching seven groups of athletes every day. They have more time for professional development, more time to spend with their or their families. So can you elaborate on that? And just how even the, the design of the weight room and what equipment you buy and where you decide to put steady equipment, how that can actually create just a better overall quality of life.
And, and, and a better train experience for the athletes and the, uh, the staff. It boils down to the idea that let’s say, you know, uh, we’ve already talked about innovation, uh, research development, driving forward, all that kind of stuff in the real world. Uh, the guy putting the rivets on the rocket first X is not in the research and development.
They’re two separate departments. So you have guys that work in the system, build the product, build the service, put it out to the consumer, fulfill that side of the business. And then you have departments within the business where your job is to put yourself out of business before somebody else does.
How are you going to drive this product forward? How are you going to make it better? So for example, having a rocket that lands vertically. My guess is the guy that came up with that was not the guy that was doing the rivets on the rocket, unfortunately in sport you’re expected to do both. So is it, is it good and necessary to have a high energy program with attention to detail where you’re checking all the boxes and you’re very diligent in training?
Absolutely. Yes it is. However, you also cannot have a program that stands still and never innovate and never develops and never pushes the boundaries of, of sports science and stuff like that. So there’s a need for both, and you must make time to do that. Otherwise, the competition’s going to get ahead of you and.
Right now the industrialization of strength and conditioning means that you have guys that are on the floor for eight plus hours a day. And then the rest of the day is meetings, admin and blah, blah, blah. They are constantly working in the system, not on the system. So you must invest time, money, and effort into working on the system.
And one of the ways that you can do this is by either increasing staff, which is more expensive and harder to do, or you can make tweaks to facility design to date, increase the number of sessions that have to be done per day. And this is primarily and football. Um, you, you, you, she be trying to increase the number of athletes that you can get through per session without a drop in quality.
So typically the limiting factor is going to be racks and floor space. So I did this design with Scott at William and Mary. Have you ever seen, I’m going to have a shop black box in Belfast? My friend Greg says company they’ve developed power X, the fold into the wall, completely flush. They have plate storage, that’s completely flush and they have boss storage, which is the same.
So if you have that with inlaid platforms and you put everything flat to the wall, At William and Mary, I can tell you for a fact, you would have doubled the width of available space. And if you will doing into a speed work, dynamic, warmup, all that kind of stuff, you significantly bumped up the number of people that you can get through the door.
If you take, um, floor space of equipment, taking equipment, which can get more athletes through at one time. So for example, I think a power rack, a well-designed parrot can get four to five athletes working at one time. Within reason if you, if you kind of allocate like, uh, rest periods and stuff like that, a four way net machine is quite frankly useless in that regard.
And it takes up quite a lot of floor space, same with, uh, you know, a jammer. The jammer is the world’s most expensive clothes rack or, you know, band storage. So just having little decisions like that. It’s eyewash in terms of recruiting and, Oh, look at all the money that we spent and this guy gets to put his name over the door.
You’ve actually upset the session flow and increase the number of athletes that you can get through the door at one time. So I would rather work backwards from that logistical standpoint and then flooding the floor with all of my staff for a few hours of high concentration, high energy organized chaos.
And then rest and work on the system rather than in the system, because right now, what happens is easily. You have this, uh, carousel of group one group, two group three group four, group five, group six. If my kid was in group six, I would feel short changed. Yeah. That makes total sense. And like I said, you don’t hear a lot of people talk about that stuff, but yeah, it almost seems like a lot of these, these wait rooms are used for recruiting and to kind of.
Tantalize people, but then, you know, they’re going to be using it for four years. And to your point, people might squat for 15 minutes out of an hour long session. But if you can fold those racks up into the wall now the other 45 minutes of the session, you’re, you’ve doubled. Like I said, doubled your space.
Never ask the barber. If you need a haircut, if you also are next, how should I spend this $5 million? They’re not going to tell you get 30 racks that can fold against the wall and use the rest of the stuff is like space. They’re going to be like, Paula, you need five of this, five of this, five of this over this.
And it’s like facility design needs to work backwards from what it is you’re trying to achieve rather than facility design being primarily driven by the donor and administrator that has no experience of training athletes. And the equipment manufacturer. This is not to say that they are being underhand, but I don’t feel quite the dare fully serving the needs of the institution.
Yeah. And then would you mind just closing by talking a little bit about strength coach network and some of the educational resources you have on there? I’ve got to say, I just actually purchased your out your speed template. I’m kind of combing through that. So I’m just going to give you that for free.
You shouldn’t have bought that, honestly. Yeah. My, my thing on that is when I have podcasts guests, like you guys are giving me your time, at least I can do is buy your products because I would buy it anyway. And I want people to be rewarded for putting out good work. So yeah, I would not have accepted it, but that gives you yeah, but it was like, um, when, when I reflect on.
Well, I struggled with when I was trying to come up. Um, and when I reflect on what it is, that’s maybe made the difference in my career. That’s allowed me to, to get ahead. Or when I look at people that have got ahead faster than me, I kind of try and work backwards and say, what is it that they had? I didn’t have.
And it was a network of people in the right places that could open doors. For me, it was. Uh, strategic attitude to my career development and being able to when opportunities present themselves to like knock out the park. So I don’t want to be going into an interview blind or, you know, submitting a resume, recover, stuff like that.
I want people that have done that, but have done it before. Been there, got the t-shirt know exactly what they’re looking for with tell me, Hey, you need to do this. And it was access to. People that actually made their living training athletes in the real world, rather than being academics. Academia has a use, but if I’m working with athletes in the real world, I want to speak to the most successful individuals in the field who do that.
So it was, you know, practical information that you can put to use in the real world and ask questions of these practitioners. So I’ll give you an example. We just got one submitted by, um, white veneer, cooks strength and conditioning coach. So most people in their lives never get to speak to anyone associated with a track and field world record, let alone see exactly what they did and ask all the questions and that’s, that’s why we were in.
Um, and then I think that kind of like community, being able to just ask people from all over the world, every level of sport, you know, what do you think about this? What do you think about this? What do you think about this? And it’s like basically, um, providing coaches with an opportunity to. Uh, learn and test the right in the real world rather than exist in that bubble of four or five assistants to say, Oh yeah, that’s a good idea.
And that’s basically it. Yeah. Cool. And I’ll, I’ll put a link to that. Like I said, I mean, I’m consuming some of your proximate myself and, um, like it’s a great resource and you know, like, like you said about the free market, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it, but you’ve got skin in the game. You put yourself on the line and.
You know, like I’ve got to kind of, my time is finite too. And the fact that like, um, you come with through some of your resources speaks to that. I think they’re valuable. So, um, and again, like, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t take any freebies from people because when I have guests on, I want them to know that I can actually read through some of their resources and their books, and then I paid for it.
And the fact that I paid a price for it, and I’m willing to talk about it with somebody. It means, I think it’s valuable. So, um, thank you. Uh, thanks. Look forward to seeing what the future holds for you. I’m excited that, you know, you’ve freed up some time and that gives you more time to work on the system, which we’re all gonna benefit from. Nice. Thank you and thank you for listening.