Despite often being lumped together strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers are vastly different. Though they are in the same industry nearly every aspect of their education, experience, and methodologies oppose one another. The most obvious difference between the two is in their clientele. Strength coaches deal almost exclusively with athletes while trainers deal with the general population.
Training for sports performance must be highly specific to the sport the athlete participates in. The success or failure of training is ultimately determined by performance on the field. If the coach is able to improve the athlete’s 40 time but that speed does not transfer to game speed it is all for not. Along the same lines small improvements in physical characteristics, even if they seem to be insignificant, can result in large improvements on the field. Training for sports can be less exciting because the types of workouts that are most effective utilize a long period of time in order to produce more effective adaptations to sport.
When training a general fitness client, improvements in physical qualities are the goal in itself. Where sports performance is specific general fitness is just that, general. This allows for more variety in training and more variation in training philosophies. Being able to vary training greatly makes for greater enjoyment in training which keeps clients motivated which makes up for the lack of competition motivators that athletes have.
Athletes have very concrete goals which include games and competitions. This provides a strong extrinsic motivation. On the other hand general fitness often lacks the extrinsic motivators that sports naturally incorporate. Non-athletes need to find a unique intrinsic motivator in order to have success within any exercise program. When clients enjoy the process itself greater results are achieved in a shorter period of time.
To sum up, any type of exercise training the coach/trainer must understand that goals are what dictate the training. Only through knowing the athlete’s/client’s goals can they determine the most effective training program.