CSCA Advisory Team Q and A with Steve Lidstone
CSCA – How did you get started in the industry?
SL – My interest in performance training began in October of Grade 9 (Early 90’s) when we initiated fitness testing for our grade 9 class. We completed various tests such as 20m sprints, broad jump, vertical jump, push-ups, and chin-ups. The class ranking was then posted outside of the physical education office and I distinctly remember finishing in the bottom third of the class. This did not sit well with me as my ranking did not match my confidence level in sport as a competitive basketball and football player. I knew I had some work to do. That Christmas I asked my parents for a York Barbell set with the old school bench press, leg extension/ leg curl combo. The cement weights wrapped in vinyl were put to use through a basement training regimen and 5-6 months later when we re-tested, I placed first in most events.
Where it all clicked for me was how different I felt when playing sports. I started to dunk a basketball in Grade 10, as a linebacker and running back I noticed I was faster, more agile and did not lose too many one on one battles. I fell in love with training for sports performance and focused my life and career on learning how to get fitter, faster, stronger.
I studied Fitness and Lifestyle Management at George Brown College and earned a 2 year placement with the High Performance Specialists (Yonge and Davisville). The top floor was a multi-disciplinary Sports Medicine Clinic, the bottom floor was a high performance strength & conditioning (S&C) centre. Clientele included Tennis Canada and National Ballet of Canada. Additionally, on a daily basis some of Canada’s best therapists (Chris Broadhurst, Rory Mullin, Chris Jackson) were bringing their clients to the sports performance staff to assist with the return to play process (including the Toronto Maple Leafs). We also trained NCAA football, snowboard, and basketball athletes.
My start in University Sport took place at York University. While studying Kinesiology and Athletic Therapy concurrently, I began to volunteer with the Men’s/ Women’s Basketball programs as they did not have a strength & conditioning coach. I volunteered for 3 years and in my last year of undergraduate studies, York posted a full-time S&C coach position spearheaded by Rosie Posca, Manager of Fitness and Recreation. I applied and received the position as the first OUA Full Time Strength & Conditioning coach (2004-2007). I assessed, periodized, trained and work collaboratively with the Athletic Therapy staff for 3 years. While at York I was invited to work with Hockey Canada Women’s Team and Trampoline Canada in 2005.
In 2007 I was hired by McMaster University as the Strength & Conditioning Coordinator. I would stay at McMaster for 9 great years (2007-2016) until my recent hiring at Brock University where I have recently shifted from Manager of Sports Performance to Associate Director of Sports Performance where I manage a collaborative group of sports medicine and strength & conditioning professionals.
CSCA – What challenges have you faced working with elite amateur athletes?
SL – I have grouped the challenges into two areas, 1) U Sport and 2) National Sport Organizations (NSOs)
- U Sport
Funding – Athletic department funding for Strength & Conditioning is not a priority however that view is slowly changing as the majority of OUA/U Sport schools are beginning to shift their opinion into one that views Strength & Conditioning programs as an opportunity to enrich student experience and offer experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
Balance and Time Management – Student athletes struggle to manage the stresses of managing academic stress, scheduling, nutrition, sleep and the time required for training, practice, and competitions. Investing in education, healthy coping strategies and pro-active efforts to assist students is required.
Poor ABC’s – Many U Sport Athletes arrive in their first year with poor movement strategies. Injuries sustained throughout high school and club sport combined with a lack of movement skills in acceleration, change of direction, jumping, landing and deceleration place the athlete at risk for further injury. Altered motor patterns and secondary injury risk places a higher workload on the strength coaches and therapists.
Various levels of motivation– Shifting the culture from participatory to competitive on U Sport teams takes time. Culture depends on tiering model (market-driven vs club), part-time vs full-time coaches, player/captain leadership and coach buy-in.
NSO/IST communication – Having worked with numerous NSO’s, the ability to ensure an athlete-centered approach, supported by adequate communication by the IST (integrated support team), athletes and support staff is scarce. Support staff (strength & conditioning coaches) struggle to provide athlete’s with adequate training without proper periodization/planning, communication from the coach and athlete communication regarding their fluctuating schedules based on sponsorship, travel and work responsibilities.
Extensive Travel/Competition – Depending on the sport, many NSO’s have extensive travel and numerous flights per month during the competitive season. This travel places recovery and sleep strategies as a priority and leaves strength & conditioning coaches with minimum blocks for training and adaptation.
Next Generation focus to enhance NSO Performance – A greater focus of strength & conditioning, movement skills resources needed at the PSO/Next Gen level is required to enhance NSO performance and podium finishes at major games. Providing adequate training during development years is essential to a deeper athlete pool to select from at the NSO level. Gap Analysis combined with specific requirements in training – Providing access to technical/tactical analysis experts to IST members enhances technical/tactical GAP analysis requirements for specific athletes and allows for strength & conditioning coaches to have a more specific approach to training.
CSCA – What do you think our industry will look like in 10 years from now?
SL – A CSCA Certification – A practical and theoretical Canadian Strength & Conditioning Certification with a requirement for a set number of hours of mentorship under a designated master coach in order to challenge the certification process.
Remote coaching – Training provided via video-based platforms, remote monitoring.
Increase in the use of technology – GPS, Accelerometers and recovery technology will become more affordable and portable, allowing for increased personal use.
Expansion of Strength & Conditioning positions to High Schools (Private, Prep Schools and General schools) that will enhance athleticism at the national and U sport Level.
University S&C centres utilized more by NSO’s as development centres for Next Gen and NSO athletes in each region due to the quality of full-time coaches being hired by Universities.
High Performance models adopting directors of performance to enhance athlete development and monitoring utilizing sport science.
NSO including strength & conditioning coaches at major competitions for monitoring and recovery planning and implementation.