System Failure

I have worked in the field of Strength & Conditioning for nearly 20 years now. I know less now than I thought I knew when I first started. The beauty of this and many I attempt to surround myself with is that we work on very few absolutes. We continually try to challenge all concepts and theories that we currently use and see others using. We couple that with proven science to formulate and develop discussion and thought provoking ideas. Squat university embodies this concept. One main goal is to stimulate thoughts, ideas and challenge everything we do as a profession. In doing this, we have struck a chord with many. Some send us stimulating questions and thoughts. Some send notes of encouragement and thanks for well thought out ideas and concept. Then there are those who try to “help” us or straight out want to dispute everything we write and present. Despite the science that we cite, they disagree with us and still think the world is flat.

I feel like Squat University and those who have engaged with us are benefiting our profession. Hopefully the application of what we discuss could eventually have a positive influence on the system we all function off of. We spend a lot of time talking about squatting and lower body, but along the way I have the desire to take a moment and speak less about legs and get something off my chest.

Our system is broken. We are failing ourselves professionally. We have failed the athletes, coaches, parents and young colleagues around us. This would be a good time to pop some popcorn and prepare for an aging mans rant… We’ll take a break from the other well written and thought out posts of Squat University. This will be less of that and more of a conversation with your grandfather discussing how he walked up hill both ways to school in the snow and how this generation has ruined everything good.


Old man rant starts here…

  • You are not an “expert” because you train professional athletes. Despite what the public thinks, because you have trained someone that has been successful in their sport, or possibly were a former professional athlete yourself, this alone means jack squat (pun intended). I’m not saying there aren’t experts training professional athletes. What I am saying is that there are people training athletes that are terrible and clueless. Unfortunately the consumer can’t tell the difference. More and more coaches are spending time self-promoting by posting pictures of workouts of them and someone successful in sport. They should be spending more time on developing sound periodization and improving their coaching skills.
  • If you are a former college or pro athlete and think that qualifies you as a strength coach….you are wrong. People are misguided by your athleticism and think you have the abilities to teach them to move like you. Unfortunately you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t even know why you move the way you do. Training is not a one-size-all method. What worked for you doesn’t always work for everyone else. Vomiting up what things you remember your college and pro strength coaches did with you isn’t it either. Stupidity recycles itself and you are part of the problem. But please keep posting pics of you in your uniform and reliving your glory days on the field. Please keep on convincing the moms with check books that their kids will never make it to the next level if they decided to train elsewhere (insert sarcasm).


  • Too many people are in the business of training and forget (or never knew) how to coach. Others in an attempt to be too open minded have allowed their brains to fall out.
  • Getting YouTube hits and social media clicks is becoming the new training fad. Don’t get me wrong, I am often impressed with the show of athleticism that many of these videos show. Unfortunately how many plates you can jump up on is the new choice of training for many for the next 5 years. Eventually someone else will come out with a new circus trick to show off his or her freakish athleticism.

  • Tired does not equal good training. Unfortunately, many athletes decided whether their workout was successful or not based on their ability to walk after.
  • The strength and conditioning industry has been over-monetized and measures success by providing the athlete with things they want instead of what they need. Get a t-shirt, massage and a smoothie with every workout. If business takes off and you are having success quickly develop a certification process that you can sell to others so they can put more worthless initials behind their name as well. No one knows what all those initials mean. Stop it. It’s stupid and doesn’t make you any better of a trainer because you have more worthless initials behind your name. If you are looking for more initials behind your name may I suggest making up a symbol instead like the artist formerly known as Prince.
  • Our training has become too sensitive for public approval. We try to make the coach, parent and/or athlete happy instead of training athletes the way we’re supposed to. We bypass fundamental movement skills and instead place in sexy drills. We use gadgets and drills that fool consumers into thinking that we’re innovative and cool. Money into the pocket over fundamental skills. We place athletes in great danger and risk of injury by taking this strategy. Crawl, walk, RUN.
  • Many of the companies and coaches center their training to improve testing outcomes that unfortunately have negative translation to the field/court or do nothing to improve performance. Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane. I’m sorry…….ok that’s a lie, I’m not sorry. It’s time for the strength and conditioning professionals to take back things like the NFL combine and instead develop a better system that translates to the field. I’m proposing the problem, not the solution. It’s my rant; I don’t have to have the answers. I can just be an angry man thinking I’m solving all the world’s problems amongst friends at the local coffee shop can’t I?
  • Early sport specialization causes poor underdeveloped motor programs. By the time the athlete reaches college or the professional level it may be too late or at best very difficult to make significant change in these programs. It can take up to 30,000 correct reps to change a poorly developed motor program. So to those individuals who have responded to our previous facebook/instagram post (especially about RGIII) and somehow feel butt hurt because we posted a pic of your favorite player, someone you played sport with, someone you coached personally, or “know his strength coaches well”. I offer no apology.


  • I am not disqualifying you as a good coach, nor am I endorsing your skills as a coach. This is a systematic problem, that enforces the need for our profession to be forward thinking, more proactive than reactive, and realize the importance of good “coaching” at ALL levels, not just good “training”. The more we defend some athlete or coach the greater the problem. These posts aren’t targeting someone; they are targeting a systematic problem. You can choose to stay inside the current system and thought processes because it keeps you employed. I get that. But we are more concerned about the global progression of our profession and less about buying into the “next great training method” or the “newest and greatest piece of equipment that cost thousands of dollars”. All that means SQUAT to me if we don’t know how to coach. Coaching>Training.
  • In conclusion, if Jesus Christ himself displayed uncontrolled valgus and internal rotation moments while walking across the water…well…we’re here to talk about it and try to stimulate ideas on how we can fix it.

We believe proactivity is for pros and reactivity is for amateurs. We believe in building habits and being students of our process. Our way is harder. Be smarter. Play the long game instead of the short game. Prepare, learn and do the work.

End of Rant

Travis Neff, PT, ATC, CSCS 

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12 thoughts on “System Failure

  1. Seriously great article! We are in a field that requires a life long passion for learning.

    Please allow me to address the coaching v training dilemma. I’m in the process of writing CPD plan for Professional Skills Class that’s required for my MSc in S&C here at the University of Edinburgh. This assignment has given me an opportunity to take a closer look at the ethics, skills, and standards required of a strength and conditioning coach. Great I have a BSc in Exercise Science, I’m CSCS and RSCC. Wow look at those letters (sarcasm). Those letters aren’t what make me proud to be a Coach, it’s the thank you’s from my athletes, the pictures of their accomplishments they send me when they’re outside of my gym. I’m proud of them because they’re the ones who have busted their asses for years. Here’s the problem, I’ve demonstrated my knowledge is sufficient to be credentialed and live up to the standards set forth by the NSCA, but there are no standards for “coaching”. What makes a great coach outside the realms of exercise science? Words such as empathy, compassion, understanding, enthusiasm, inspiration, communication, guidance, authenticity… Only years of experience, the ability to be humble and allow ourselves to be behind the scenes knowing we’re doing whats best to keep our athletes safe, applying simple strategies, being creative with our coaching cues to teach our athletes to crawl, walk, run optimally.

    It’s humbling to see you let loose and go on a rant, thank you for doing so. Keep up the great work!

  2. Well written! I completely agree with everything! There should be more focus on quality of coaching and movement capability; everything else should take a back seat, especially any coach’s focus on their interests. The focus should be on each athlete and what’s best for their development.

    Thanks for the rant!

  3. I’m a student and now I have an injured knee so now I cannot do sports although I’m a professional athlete. What to say, I miss a big sport very much. Studying distracts me but I’m not good at writing and have to use EssayExplorer service that gives me information on the helpers in writing academic papers. So I have more time for thinking and recovering and even light workouts. Only God knows how many tears my trauma has cost me.

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  6. I agree with this article, that our system is broken and we are failing our athletes and coaches. It’s important to continually challenge our theories and concepts, and to use proven science to develop our ideas. Unfortunately, too often it’s like trying to explain the concept of a casino to a flat-earther. We need to do better and raise the bar on our profession.

  7. Is it possible to lose money in an online casino not through your own mistake or failure? For example, fraud or some kind of failure in the system.

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