This month STT interviews Rick Court. Coach Court is the Director of Football Strength and Conditioning at the University of Toledo. Rick played baseball at Michigan State University and started in strength and conditioning in his last year as a intern.

STT would like to thank Coach Court for taking the time to answer a few questions. I have actually witnessed Rick’s early morning Friday in-season lifts for the scout team. His intensity and attention to detail is contagious. Check out Coach Court’s Q&A session with STT below!

STT: Please provide your educational background including undergrad, graduate experience and certifications.

Coach Court: I graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology. I pursued my MS in Sports Administration at Eastern Kentucky University. And, I am certified by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.

STT: How did you become involved in the industry?

Coach Court: I knew I wanted to be a strength coach from the time I entered college. I trained as a student athlete and was lucky enough to intern when I was done playing baseball. From there I knew I had a passion for it and just tried to learn as much as I could. I was lucky to get a paid internship at Bowling Green. I always tried to go above and beyond with every sport that I was involved with.

STT: What is your specialization? Feel free to expand upon your job responsibilities, interests or current project you are working on.

Coach Court: At Toledo, I am in charge of every aspect of Strength and Conditioning as it pertains to the football program. Many other responsibilities come as well: nutrition, training table, rehabilitation, recovery, motivation and many other aspects that arise.

STT: What aspect of the field do you enjoy the most? Feel free to elaborate and provide multiple examples.

Coach Court: I enjoy the relationships with the athletes the most. I love being able to help and guide them in life. Discipline and accountability is such a huge thing in football but also in school and life. The feeling after winning and knowing what these players sacrifice to win and succeed in everything is so gratifying.

STT: Do you have other tips to help players maintain performance (or delay fatigue) throughout a game?

Coach Court: At Toledo we basically have food available constantly (team meals and snacks). Each player feels different on game day so I feel we need to cater to all needs. We also have fluids (Gatorade/water/juice) everywhere all week at most times of the year. Those are huge intangible things I think help us during the season.

STT: For today’s Strength & Conditioning specialist, what type of academic and professional training can optimize a young person’s chances for success in the field in the 21st century?

Coach Court: A couple things:

1. Get a degree that allows you to teach in high school… I think those jobs will bet huge in the near future

2. Volunteer and intern as much as you can in different environments. Most GA’s I know have earned that spot through hard work at that unpaid level. Keep your mouth shut, listen, and out work people!

3. Constantly look for ways to improve: read, call people on the phone, and visit places.

4. Most importantly… don’t get side tracked by guru things… training is simple! TRAIN KIDS HARD AND SAFE!

STT: What would you tell the Strength & Conditioning coach that wants to keep up with current research from sport scientist? What ideas do you have for initiating such contacts?

Coach Court: Wow, good question. I am not sure if some of those people are always right. Pick people you trust and build a great relationship with them. Make sure what you learn is practical and can help you and your athletes.

STT: Years ago, the stability ball was the hot trend in the fitness field…one year ago it was the kettlebell (and kinda still is). What current ‘trend’ do you see in the fitness field today?

Coach Court: A lot of things: kettlebells, ropes, and med balls. Things that have been around and are coming back. I think people need to realize some of that stuff is not practical. All the balance, core, and functional training is really blown up way too much. We need to spend more time training muscles hard through a full range of motion and include hard conditioning. We need to make sure we are also training the neck and posterior chain consistently and progressively.

STT: Where do you use plyometrics in your weekly plan? Do the plyometrics come after weight work or before? On the day of weight work or the day after?

Coach Court: We use some type of plyometrics multiple times per week in the weight room during workouts/ in the sand / on the field.

STT: What sport skills can you improve during your strength and conditioning workouts?

Coach Court: We have sport specific conditioning and sport specific skill workouts to get better at our sport. In the weight room we get stronger to have the ability to optimize those skills.

STT: What are some of the mental roadblocks athletes have in regards to their training and performance on and off the field?

Coach Court: Early on lack of understanding of what hard work is and what expectations are at the college level. After they realize what the college level is about, there could be potential for many roadblocks. Realization of lack of ability (or lack of confidence), social relations, family relations, not knowing there team role, home sickness, etc. It is imperative as a strength coach to have relationship with the players so you can help to blast through these barriers.

Keep in touch with STT for an interview with Nick Wilson the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Detroit Mercy.  For more information about upcoming interviews, and to keep in touch with STT, join our mailing list and follow us on Facebook by searching SMARTER Team Training.

I hope all is well.  Have a great day!