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From time to time, parents and/or kids at my school will opt to see a personal trainer instead of participate in our school's strength & conditioning program. We know this is a decision made at all levels of scholastic sponsored and even professional level sports. There are a lot of reasons athletes and/or their parents choose to go outside of the particular organization they are affiliated with: the most popular probably being that said parents and/or athletes think an outside source simply knows a better way to train. This mindset can draw everything from chuckles to outright anger from strength & conditioning coaches. And we all have our stories to tell about these situations.

Sometimes, those parents and/or kids from my school will say that "it's not that we think what you do isn't good, we just want our son/daughter to have that one on one time". I will usually have two responses to this rationale:


1. I have been a "personal trainer" and have even owned my own facility. I am now working in a school, so I've seen both sides of this industry and I'll take my school environment any day. And what we have to offer is the same or better as any outside facility. Furthermore our program is included in the tuition you already pay.

2. In the sport you play, do you have one coach for every player on the field, court, mat, pool, etc.?


Question 1 usually gets me a blank stare and Question 2 is always answered "No". So this begs the question: "Is Personal Training overrated? In other words, if you have a qualified, experienced, and organized strength & conditioning coach and/or staff that can oversee multiple athletes at one time and produce safe results, that is also in a team building environment, why would an athlete need to seek out an individual person to give them "one on one" time, to at best, achieve the same results?



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Comment by Matt Ledbetter on May 16, 2012 at 7:38am

Hi.. i totally agree with you on the points you made about personal training.  However the fact is that most high schools have no budget for strength and conditioning and much less a strength coach.  Its usually the head football coach who is a football coach... not strength and conditioning coach.  Also the most needed and least known about subject in s&c is mobility and lots of these kids can back squat 300 lbs but cant pass the overhead squat movement screen... also if an athlete has an important combine coming up... maybe they needed help in the pro shuttle on the first step or the hockey stop setup.. i dont think most HS strength coaching are teaching pro shuttle technique so that can benefit the athlete as far as outside training goes.  Now... It is agreeable that you can not reproduce that atmosphere... when 30 kids are gettin after it. but sometimes there is a need for a technical and clinical approach to "open hips up" or to teach a dedicated skill set.

Comment by Kevin Gregory on January 28, 2012 at 5:51pm
I consider myself a strength coach first. I currently train about ten high school athletes that have invested working with me separate from their school programs. Their parents reached out to me because they wanted their sons or daughters to work with someone with a performance based program.I am the Director of Athetic Performance at a private facility specializing in strength and conditioning. I really think it depends on the trainer/coach. I work PREDOMINATLY with athletes but also the general populous. The bottom line I would say is what are the qualifications/ education of the trainer/coach. I have been in this industry long enough to see coaches with plenty of letters behind their name that couldn't coach themselves out of a paper bag. I am aware of the constant tension between the private sector and the school administration. It really comes down to in my experience the level of education and can the trainer MOTIVATE the athlete. Come check us out at Fueled Sports Performance in Santa Barbara, CA.
Comment by Eddy Schumacher on January 28, 2012 at 1:32pm

Having been both, and currently doing both, I don't know that I'd say they're overrated - only that they are two completely separate specialties with specific and unique goals.  IF your are a solo athlete (i.e., golfer, marathon runner, arm wrestling champ, etc.) or you are a member of the general populace in need of help with a general fitness goal, then personal training may be your choice.  IF, however, you are a member of a team training for specific competitive performance goals, then the strength and conditioning professional is the way to go.
Sadly, most people to not understand the distinction between sport science and exercise science.  Training is training.  The principles of S.A.I.D. apply to the whole team concept psychologically as well as to training physically.

Some trainers MAY be competent at sport specific goals and periodized training that does not interfere with or overload the athlete's practice schedule, but even so, I would add one other answer to your list - how does going outside the team atmosphere help the TEAM?

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