NSCA Convention – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly


I have maintained for several years that Strength & Conditioning is a field crying out for definition. The four days here in Las Vegas at the NSCA Convention did nothing to dispel that notion. I am convinced that there is no profession, no field, only confusion. The convention program and the exhibits only confirmed that for me. What is strength and conditioning? This was definitely not a convention for coaches. It looked more like a personal trainer convention. As Dan Baker President of the Australian Strength & Conditioning Coaches Association and strength coach of the Brisbane Broncos said “death by personal trainer.” I have nothing against personal trainers, but they have a different mission than coaches. They may do physical exercise but the application is significantly different. I personally think that when the NSCA reached out to personal trainers it was for purely monetary reasons, it was a way to increase membership, get more people certified and raise more money. Personal trainers have their own organizations and that is where they should be. In talking to many of my colleagues that I respect they feel the same way. I really think the NSCA has lost their compass, they are trying to be all things to all people; it would be good see them revisit their mission or even redefine their vision. It seems to me they are trying to be a muscular ACSM.
I do think the research section is very positive, but once again to have the research sections conflict with presentations is not wise. Create a research track where the presentations are not in conflict with other presentations. Perhaps instead of the preconvention presentations that should be designated research day.
I come to conventions to learn and to share and interact with other professionals. Venues like Las Vegas do not facilitate this. Too big and too spread out. Some of my fondest memories of past NSCA conventions was gathering in a corner of the lobby and talking training with other coaches. Fortunately here I was able to visit with Jim Radcliffe and his wife. Also got to spend some time talking about all of this with Rob Newton, Dan Baker, Jeremy Sheppard and Harry Brennan. Dan and Jeremy are very involved with the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association; in that organization there are no personal trainers, just coaches who are working with athletes. Go to their site, https://www.strengthandconditioning.org it is as it should be, a focus on coaching and applied research. This is a good model.
Specific Recommendations:

  • Have a beginner’s elementary track, a personal training track, a coaching track and a research track.
  • Do not put two good speakers at the same time so that you have to make a choice.
  • Stop the commercial announcements, subtle or overt. I come to learn not to here infomercials.
  • Eliminate the From the Field or call it like it is, label it product demos or infomercials.
  • Have a theme for each convention, so that there is a central focus. Information dumps do not help anyone.
  • Have the convention at less expensive venues. Las Vegas is too expensive. Choose a central location and even perhaps consider having it in a permanent location.

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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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