A Rant for Change…

After following the twitter responses to Howard Gray’s (twitter @HstephenG) blog post on his site – pursuitofperformance.blogspot.com regarding the nature of our industry’s leader in education, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, it got me thinking.

What is the nature of out industry? Where are we headed? How can we continue to move forward if we are all moving in different directions? I would like to comment on the final sentence of his post… “I am still an optimist and feel young professionals such as myself CAN make a difference if we speak up and express our concerns.”

I agree young presenter/authors/educators need to speak up and state their views, experiences, and ideas on philosophical change. We need to know what we want (or need) so that we can move forward in the right direction.

As science unravels the mystery about the way we learn, the industry needs to create new formats from which to teach. We all learn in different ways, and we all come from different backgrounds, so lectures might appeal to some, journal articles and online searches might appeal to others and hands on sessions are great for those that need to “see” and “feel”. But the greatest part of these events (conventions and seminars) does not happen in the class room sessions, it happens in the exhibit hall, the elevator, over the dinner table and at the social gatherings. This is where presenters and attendees can mingle, ask questions, discuss, demonstrate, question, share experiences and LEARN.

What do we as an industry really want from our leading educational provider. It’s simple really…

1) We want research. Real world studies that apply directly to the populations we work with, not over the top scientific, laboratory research, that is so sterile that it is hard for the young practitioner to understand how it can be integrated into programing.
2) We want practical applications of this research. Interventions and progressions that are founded in science, but practiced and monitored over time with proven outcomes.
3) We want to question these practical applications – publicly. We want the presenter to explain the why, the how and the when. We want to dig in and understand when it is applicable and when it is not.
4) We want to know how the presenter(s) bridged BOTH gaps (between science and the weight room and the weight room and the athletic field). It’s one thing to know the the science behind the power clean and the fact that it is a great tool for developing total body power, but I know a lot of great power cleaners that can’t play soccer, basketball, football or baseball.

So really what do we want?


We want an organization that is founded in science (outcomes based science). We want an organization that bridges the gap between science and training (exercise selection, intensities, volumes, etc.). We want to understand the progressions and digressions of these exercises (how / when do we teach the clean, plyos, speed, conditioning, etc. and what is the best way to learn each movement). We want to know how to bridge these exercises into sports practice (how do we create better players on the field or court).

This is the real trick, I think we all understand how to make athletes stronger, faster and more explosive, but in this new era of early specialization where kids don’t grow up developing a diverse foundation in movement and motor skills, we need to get outside the box and nearsighted view of specialization in the weight room (unless your only goals are to be a better weightlifter). Instead we need to focus on the real goal of the athlete/client… To be a better ATHLETE. And to do this we need to integrate, combine and work together with sports coaches, researchers, therapists, etc. In this new world of fragmented, isolated, sport/training specialization, we need to bridge many gaps as we are the one piece that connects the athlete to each of their sport/training components.


I too like the NSCA, and can appreciate the foundation that they have laid over the years. I speak for the NSCA from time to time and I love this opportunity. But when I speak for the NSCA, I try to align my presentations with the points above. Did I base my programs on research? Did I practice these progressions over time and track results? Did I come offer progressions and digressions of these drills? Did I provide the attendee with a practical application that applies to the field of play?

I know I don’t have all the answers, and the older I get the more questions I seem to have, but if we continue to question and offer solutions in a educational format, we as an industry can continue to grow.


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