Once in a while, we like to share with you the profile of another professional strength and conditioning coach, usually one that we have in our network and have a long standing, positive relationship with. In this case, we want to present Brook Hamilton, the head strength and conditioning coach for the Columbus Crew Soccer Club (MLS). This provides insight into what it is like to be a professional strength coach and what it takes to get there.
The format of this post will be more of a Q&A. We asked Brook a few questions and he was kind enough to answer. Thanks, Coach!
What is your name?
Where did you study?
Slippery Rock University–Department of Exercise and Rehabilitative Sciences
Do you feel that your formal education helped prepare you for your career path?
Yes, I feel that my education at Slippery Rock gave me a base knowledge that prepared me for the concepts I encountered in my internship, which then carried over, to my first position and throughout my career. Basic physiological concepts have always been a part of my career. Without a strong understanding of these complex thought processes many goals cannot be achieved.
What Certification(s) do you have?
Certifications – CSCS, First Aid,CPR/AED, USAW
Course Work – M.A.T. Lower Body Jumpstart, PRI Myokinematic Restoration, Postural Respiration, RTS Lower Extremity
Where do you currently work?
Currently the Head of Strength and Conditioning with the Columbus Crew SC of MLS Soccer heading into my fourth season.
Where have you worked in the past?
I have previously worked at/with the following:
- International/IMG Performance Institute – 2001-2008
- Yi Jianlian/Chinese Olympic Basketball team – 2008
- Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training – 2008-2009
- Guangdong Southern Tigers CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) – 2009-2010
- Armando Tennis Academy – 2010
- Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) – 2010-2011
- Columbus Crew SC (MLS) – 2012- present
What experiences have helped shape you as a coach?
A lot of experiences have helped shape me as a coach. My professors at Slippery Rock prepared me with a great education that allowed me to be fully prepared and confident to jump into a situation of working with youth and high-level elite athletes in my internship. As in intern to full time tenured coach at International Performance Institute, I had the opportunity to work with some of the top coaches in our field who had a vast knowledge of all aspects of performance with each coach having certain areas of expertise. Every opportunity was taken to bring in experts in the field to allow our staff grow and become more knowledgeable. Not often under one roof do you have the ability to train thousands of junior athletes from multiple sports (academy structure) to hone your coaching technique and skills all while working with the top athletes in their respective fields (NFL Combine/Off-Season Prep, MLB, NBA etc.).
My ability to travel all over the world to work with individual athletes and teams has allowed me to break through certain comfort barriers. It has improved my coaching dramatically by realizing the needs based on the different athletes from a cultural standpoint. It has made me realize how to adapt my training based on things other than physiological parameters.
Working with multiple sports has allowed me to become a more well rounded coach. You realize that although many things are similar from a training aspect, all programs are not alike. They need to be specific for the athlete and the specific sport.
Can you explain what your role is with your current team/athletes?
My current role with Columbus Crew SC encompasses all aspects related to
Sports performance. It includes all of the following but not limited to:
-Development of team and personal periodized training programs
-Monitoring training from a daily/yearly perspective
-Preparation of daily training reports and advise changes
-Movement, strength and conditioning protocol design
-Coordination with medical staff assessments on evaluations and , post-rehab return-to-play protocols and corrective exercises
-Administration of all pre game/practice protocols
-Administration of all performance testing protocols
-Preparation of budgets and facility design
-Development and administration of daily supplement protocols
-Purchase and planning of team meals
What coaches have influenced you?
There are numerous coaches that have influenced me throughout my career. Probably too many to list. I have had performance coaches that excelled in Olympic lifting and movement mechanics as well as sport coaches that have increased my knowledge of the game to better adapt my training.
What different training methods do you like to use? (Coaching Philosophy)
I wouldn’t say I have a specific coaching philosophy that is pinpointed to one or two ideas. Over my career, I have had the opportunities to work with some incredibly talented coaches, both performance and sport, who have presented me with ideas and training philosophies that compliment mine and I have merged parts into mine. I have also worked with numerous athletes that have pushed me to broaden my approach based on injuries, results and performance. My main philosophy would be based on sound physiological principles adapted/advanced for the individual athlete based on goals/deficiencies. I place a strong emphasis on power and movement training that compliment my strength programs. My strength programs are adaptable to but primarily focus on functional movements incorporated with pure strength movements.
What was the coolest experience you had as a strength coach?
I have had some great experiences through my career so far. Some of the highlights have to be working with Olympic level athletes, training the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft and winning the a league championship in China. The travel overseas and living in a different culture is a life changing experience that I suggest everyone try if they have the ability.
What is a typical day like for you (I know, strength coaches don’t have typical days!)?
A typical day in-season for me might be as follows. It all depends on the day of the week.
- Early wake with my own personal workout.
- Daily prep for the day of workouts, practices, etc. (set up monitoring system, set up weight room, etc.)
- Strength and corrective work prior to practice based on individual athlete schedule
- Field prep
- Practice – warm up, conditioning and movement work based on day of week, cool down
- Additional strength and corrective work based on athlete and day of week. This is highly dependent on individual needs
- Breakdown and clean up
- Data download and breakdown
- Program adjustment and writing
What are the 3 things you like the most about what you do?
Top three things I like about what I do:
1. I am highly competitive and my athletic ability took me as far as it could. I have the ability to prepare high-level athletes to perform at that level day in and day out. This is where I can continue my competitive nature and see the results on field. Myself and every member of our support staff have a part in the performance on field and it is very prideful.
2. The interaction with the players. Not many professions provide you with interaction with individuals from all over the world. The education and great relationships that you earn from being in a profession like this are life long.
3. The obvious perks of being with a professional team i.e. travel, access to top of the line training equipment, interaction with other professionals in your sport and others in the same position. Plus my parents can see me on TV from time to time!
What is your biggest frustration with this industry?
My biggest frustration with the industry is the lack of education. This is two sided. The first is in the education of the fitness professional. The higher education (not just necessarily school) fitness professionals achieve only helps to improve the perception of what we do to the normal public. There are still programs and individuals that refuse to advance or change programs due to new findings or that have no idea or experience to be providing programs they are. There are plenty of educational opportunities out there to help you improve on this.
The second is the education of the person/athlete and general public. Too many of there decisions are based off the perception of what they see on TV (products or the bodies). The idea of a quick fix is not healthy and not attainable without having rebounds. Although difficult to educate the individuals, the fitness professional needs to make sure this is a staple in their program. The client/athlete needs to have a clear understanding of what they are doing, why they are doing it and what are realistic goals based off their program.
Do you have suggestions for making the industry better?
I think the more we educate ourselves and our clientele the better off the profession will be.
For those readers who don’t know the difference, can you tell them what the difference is between a strength/performance coach and a personal fitness trainer?
I think the main difference between a strength/performance coach and a personal trainer is in the nomenclature but is can be based on the clientele they are working with. There is a lot of carry over from one to the other. But based off the clientele there may be differences in the program design based on goals. A performance coach working with athletes deals with many more facets of training (movement, nutrition, ESD, strength, power etc.) in comparison to a personal trainer working with a non-athlete who may only focus on one or two of these based on the amount of time available with the client. This is not to say a personal trainer cannot focus on all of these things like a performance coach does. It is all based on the abilities and goals of the individual that is being trained. In my opinion, when I work with someone, he/she is an athlete no matter what; it is just the capability and level that you start the person at.
Any advice you would give someone looking to get started in this industry?
Perseverance is the key. This field can be tough, but if you want to be at a certain level and be successful, you have to weather the journey.
Thanks again, Brook and wishes for continued success!!