Training with Professional Athletes
Competition for professional training jobs is extremely intense. Your knowledge base and experience must be quite extensive in order to work at this level. This is a very small market and a highly demanding job. You will be required to keep long hours and travel a great deal. However, it is also a very exciting and rewarding job with many perks.
Are You Qualified?
In order to even be considered for a professional strength-coaching position, you must have extensive credentials and experience. Most jobs require a master's degree or higher, as well as certification by the NSCA as a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Many clubs require you to have worked in the minor leagues or at a Division I college. At this level, you will not only be supervising their strength training, you will likely be involved in conditioning programs and nutrition as well.
How Do You Break into the Market?
The truth is, people do not typically break into this market, they climb. They have put in many long hours throughout their careers to make it to this level. Most professional strength coaches have moved up through the ranks, starting at the college level. They begin as graduate assistant coaches, then move to assistant then head college coach. A very few may be lucky enough to know someone and skip a few rungs in the ladder, but this is not common.
Special Considerations for the Professional Athlete
When interacting with professional athletes, you are dealing with significant physical and mental considerations. Because they are always in the public eye, there is a high level of stress. Privacy and confidentiality are of the utmost importance. There is a great deal at stake at this level, so proper program design is imperative. You never want to cause an athlete to be injured or retard their progress in returning from an injury. Your programs will vary based on a number of factors, such as age of the athlete, workout history, injuries, the sport and position they play, level of motivation, and current physical condition. You can make or break an athlete's career if safety is not practiced at all times.
Remember that your weekend warrior clients were once athletes. Many times they will believe they can still do what they did twenty or thirty years before. The fact is, they are older and their bodies cannot handle the same type of abuse. Be sure to train safely while providing enough of a challenge so that they do not get frustrated or bored.