November/December 2020 - 18

THE EXTRA PUSH
How Strength Coaches Help Lift Teams to Championship Aspirations
By Nick Friar, contributing writer
" A team is only as strong as its weakest link. " It is one of
the most overused cliches in sports despite its accuracy. But
what about a team's strongest link - meaning, their fittest?
As the strength and conditioning field has evolved
through the years, the significance of the strength staff
within organizations and at school has also increased -
especially at the collegiate level. It's fairly common to see
strength coaches jumping around on the sidelines at college
football games or sitting toward the end of the bench in
college basketball contests.
Pregame warmups and mid-game support of both
players and athletic trainers are just a small portion of what
strength coaches do. Their most important work takes place
away from the game, in the weight room.
But, for winning programs, even more responsibility falls
on strength coaches.
" Since I only train men's basketball I'm around the team
and staff all the time, " Villanova men's basketball strength
and performance enhancement coach John Shackleton
said. " So, I'm also giving the guys the same message that
(Villanova head) coach (Jay) Wright gives them, but maybe
just in my own way. The culture is already established, so
it's easy for me. All I got to do is enforce (what we're all
about) - which is hard work, train smart, play smart. We
have all of our core values. Those core values we talk about
on the basketball court really translate. We talk about the
same thing in the weight room when we train. "
Though, no two programs are the same. Not even
winning ones like Villanova men's basketball, which has
two NCAA Tournament titles under Wright (both of which
Shackleton was a part of), and Auburn football, which is
where Texas A&M Commerce senior director of sports
performance Joe Caldwell spent his playing days and won
the 2010 BCS National Championship while lining up at
middle linebacker for the Tigers.
While then Auburn football head coach Gene Chizik sent
the tone for the program during that era, another prominent
voice on the Tigers' staff impacted Caldwell and his
teammates en route to their title.
" I was blessed at Auburn to have one of the best strength
and conditioning coaches to ever do it (in) Kevin Yoxall, "
Caldwell said. " I wanted to be a physical therapist coming
out of high school, but once I saw the structure and how
well the coaches teach and break everything down to make
sure that all athletes have a full understanding of why the
weight room is important.
" The big thing they always told us that stuck with me
now is we take from the weight room, as football players,
the weight room doesn't take from us. ... The coaches
made sure they told us why (we did something) really
well, " he continued.
But the dialogue between Auburn football players
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November/December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of November/December 2020

November/December 2020 - 1
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