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How Do You Measure The Success Of A Strength And Conditioning Program? A Question by Ray Eady

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Oct 16, 2010 8:21:00 PM

Is it measured in wins, loses, injury rates, athlete's experience, compliance and satisfaction by the coaching staff, etc.?  In the NBA, strength and conditioning coaches are measured on the basis of games missed due to injury.  Therefore, if players are not missing games due to injury but the respective team finishes the season with a losing record is this still considered successful? 


Ray Eady, University of Wisconsin


Good question.    This is a problem seen for many years and will continue for many years in our profession.
I feel that some of the measurement is due to the administration, organization, coaches and how they view it.
Obviously, wins and losses are a big key to how people in charge will respond. Keeping players on the court, field playing and developing well in the areas necessary for success is a huge part of the job.  Pressure placed on coaches by upper level management for not enough wins eventually will trickle down to the strength program.   This is regardless of any success with a lack of injuries, athletes experience, compliance, and coaching staff’s happiness. 
I hope this answers it somewhat; it is a very open question.

RON – Purdue



How do I measure success by keeping our guys healthy and how many games did players miss - that is a quantitative approach.   I also see success from a qualitative standpoint in what kind of impact does our program have on them from a mental stand point:

I.e. Are we making athletes more confident b/c of their improved strength, body comp, conditioning, power, etc.
Are we making athletes better by improving their mental state and teaching them how to remain positive and not show defeat and frustration during difficult tasks?
Are we making athletes better by asking them to themselves and their teammates accountable?
Are we making athletes better because they start to care more about their bodies inside and outside the weight room (attentive to nutrition, recovery, extra workouts, etc.)?

These are all things that make my program successful - as well as the feedback that I get from the athletes about what we are doing - if I see them buy into what we are doing, then I know I'm being successful.

How do sport coaches measure success - they see performance numbers increase, they see that they are healthy, they see improvement on the field/court/ice, etc.

I don't think we have a direct result in wins/losses but we do have an indirect effect:

1.  are the athletes able to with stand the rigors of the sport (conditioning, strength, power, etc)  2.  are the athletes resilient enough to bounce back from difficult practices (mobility, flexibility, stability, recovery)  3.  are the athletes confident in their preparation that they won't crumble under the pressure of competition

Unfortunately if teams lose but stay healthy there might be a trickle down effect to the strength coach, b/c everybody is quick to point the finger during difficult times but in reality we don't have any technical or tactical effect upon the game itself - our job is done prior to the ball being tipped.

Brijesh Patel



How do I measure success? Injury rates and performance indicators such as vertical, 10 yard, 4 jump, etc.

How do sport coaches measure success? I think that depends. Some only care about wins/losses. Some just care about bench/squat/clean numbers. If we are lucky, they understand our field a little more "globally" and realize the best thing we can do for our athletes is improve their chances of staying on the court/field.

Devan – Stanford




If performance indicators improve and injury rates decrease but the team still performs poorly in the win/lose column is that still considered successful?

Granted, as strength coaches, we can't control many variables: recruiting, game strategy, etc. etc. but should we still take some accountability for wins and loses?

Ray – Wisconsin



I don't think I can say it better than B did.

If performance indicators increase and injuries decrease, I believe we have done our job. As B stated, their may be trickle down if we lose, but we really don't have direct influence over those stats, so while I do take it personally, in the end we can't claim victories nor SHOULD we be held over the fire for losses. Not real world obviously.

I will add 2 aspects to my evaluation of a successful program:

1. FMS scores improve. I am a big believer in this screen, and though it could be seen as the same as injury rates decreasing, I do get fired up for my athletes when they improve their scores.

2. As B alluded too, how much have our athletes changed for the positive and grown as people when they leave. At then end of the day, very few of them will make money playing their sport, and even if they do, if they leave a more responsible, confident, "better" human being than when they arrived, and my program had anything to do with that, I view my time with them as successful.

D – Stanford



When a high school athlete signs their letter of intent, their #1 goal is to play [and play immediately and long-term].  Simple!  They choose that "specific" collegiate program because that program gives them the BEST opportunity to achieve that goal.  Therefore, success [for me] is helping that player [who signs that letter of intent] achieve the physical and mental tools needed to compete in the sport they LOVE. Basically, creating a POSITIVE experience and environment for the athlete when they are in a strength training [conditioning] session and using that environment as a catalyst for on field, court, or ice success. 

Of course, in order to achieve that positive experience and/or environment we must keep our players healthy [first and foremost]. Nothing is more discouraging for a player than not being able to play [THE SPORT THEY LOVE] because of an injury.  Positive experience/environment also means helping that athlete achieve the physical attributes that are needed to excel in the sport and giving them the motivation and confidence needed to be successful on AND OFF the playing field.  In a nutshell, that is all I can control.

I agree, I don't think we have a direct result in wins/loses; however, our yearly interaction with the players can definitely influence how they compete. We can all agree, outside of the coaching staff, we spend the most time with the players than any other person within the athletic department.  Therefore, if our interactions [and environment] with the players are not positive, I believe it can have some influence on wins/loses.

In the end, the best testimonial must come from the athletes. Athletes with positive experiences that are achieving positive results is a key indicator of success.

Ray – Wisconsin


I’ve always looked at success from both a strength program and a sports medicine perspective as simply related to the number of shots being put up each year. This is clearly related to the total games missed due to injury – but it goes one step further. Not being able to play in a game due to injury is devastating for both coaching staff and athlete, but not being able to practice for the days leading up to games week after week also has a tremendous effect on “success” both from a team perspective (wins/losses) but also overall skill development. Not being able to practice day in and day out limits reps on the press-break, in-bounds plays and “getting up shots” not to mention the opportunity to develop strength in the weight room.  At the end of the day, the ability to endure the rigors of college basketball day in and day out is a huge factor when addressing this question.

The second part is simply about filling the gaps. This is twofold: First, it starts with assessment and addressing the needs and deficiencies of the athlete prior to injury. I think we all get that. The second part is about filling the gaps associated specifically to the success of the basketball athlete. Mike Curtis’ video that just recently came out I think summarizes what I am about to say. Our job is to create better basketball players – not better “weight room athletes”.  Strength development is certainly a large piece of this, but should not be the end goal.  Creating athletes who are strong and explosive in the frontal plane (especially for guards) is paramount in my eyes and simply cannot be done with traditional strength training (squat, bench and clean). Guards live and die by the cross-over, either putting on their opponent or defending it.  If your program is not addressing this unique, yet trainable quality, I’d say you’re not filling the right gaps.

Art – Northeastern University

Topics: Ray Eady, Basketball Related