How to Become an NFL Strength and Conditioning Coach

February 26, 2014

Performance, Recommended Resources

Recently we sent NFL strength coach Ron McKeefery a series of questions regarding how to become a high level collegiate or NFL strength coach. His answers are below.

Contributed by Cincinnatti Bengals Strength Coach, Ron McKeefery,

1. I am in high school and interested in pursuing a career in strength and conditioning. Where should I start? 

A career in Strength and Conditioning stems from a passion to know and understand human performance.  In High School is a good time to ask questions.  Additionally, it is a great time to experiment with different types of training to see how your body responds.  Understanding that different types of training have various degrees of risk.  Make sure you know and understand them prior to implementing.

2.  What should I look for when applying to a college or university?

If you are looking for a career in strength and conditioning you should look for a school with a strong Exercise Science program and established Strength and Conditioning program.  You will gain the book knowledge from the degree and the practical knowledge from volunteering with the Strength and Conditioning program.

3. If I am interested in ending up in either collegiate or professional sports. What steps would you recommend to make it to this level? 

Once you have received a degree in an Exercise Science related field it is important to gain as much practical experience as you can.  Completing that experience at the level in which you want to end up typically helps you progressing quicker.

4. What types of internships or certifications should I pursue? 

Most Strength and Conditioning Coaches have either one or both of the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s  Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association’s Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified certifications.  Minimum qualifications are one or both of those certifications and a degree in an Exercise Science related field.  From there most volunteer wherever they can get an opportunity to work with team sports.  Most Universities offer volunteer experiences.  From there you can work your way to Graduate Assistantships, Assistant, and the Head Strength Coach  positions.

5. What does the job of an NFL strength coach entail?

There are many roles of an NFL Strength Coach but primarily our role is to work with the individual players to maximize their genetic potential in all the components of athleticism in a manner that is safe and intense.

6. If you had to do one thing differently what would it be and how would you do differently? 

I have no regrets and believe each of the roles that I have held have contributed to my current abilities.  I would recommend young coaches make sure to embrace each position they hold and allow opportunities to present themselves rather than always looking for the next best thing.  Do a great job where you are at.

7. What do you like most/least about your job? 

The thing I like most is the relationships with the athletes.  Getting to work with the very best athletes in the world and getting to know them as individuals is a priceless experience.  One of the biggest challenges is the amount of time you must spend away from your family to do your job.

8. What are some resources that you recommend to the aspiring professional?

There are several resources out there.  I would start with the governing organizations National Strength and Conditioning Association and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.  Then do some online research, making sure to understand anyone can say anything on the internet.  I have an online podcast where I interview Strength Coaches and how they started in the profession.  Go to for more information.



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