Patrik has worked with the New York Jets in the NFL, the Toronto Blue Jays in MLB and is now working with Tactical Special Forces officers in Alberta.
CSCA – How did you get your first job working in pro sport / tactical forces?
My first opportunity to work in and experience professional sports came in the Summer of 2013 with the New York Jets in the National Football League (NFL). I had just completed my first S&C position, a 12-month placement at the University of Michigan in their Olympic Sports S&C Department and I was looking for my next opportunity. Outside of the 12-hour days, any extra time I had was spent networking with various coaches at Michigan, and at clinics/conferences that I attended. Being Canadian and knowing the competition for S&C positions in both Canada and the US, I knew that I needed to take advantage of any networking opportunity that presented itself.
Fortunately, one of those contacts provided an opportunity that allowed me to connect with a couple of NFL S&C coaches. After making several phone calls, sending countless emails, and resumes, I managed to secure 3 interviews and at the end an opportunity to join the New York Jets. So, I packed up and made the trek south to Florham Park, New Jersey.
While with the Jets, I continued to reach out and connect with coaches, both in the collegiate and professional sectors. It was during this time I reached out to coaches I had previously met that oversaw Major League Baseball (MLB) S&C programs. They provided insight into what they looked for in their staff, and what was required to be a successful candidate when interviewing for professional baseball opportunities. By the time my position ended with the Jets, I had secured my next opportunity as a strength coach with the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club where I was fortunate to spend the 2014, 2015, and 2016 seasons.
And finally, at the end of the 2016 baseball season, I was presented with an opportunity through a contact to join the Edmonton Police Service as a Tactical S&C Coach, where I am currently in my 4th year with the service. This has provided a very unique and challenging transition from athletic performance to tactical performance and has been one of the most rewarding opportunities of my career.
CSCA – What skills do you need to be successful in this area?
When it comes to the tactical setting, being genuine/upfront, personable, and knowing how to and being able to adapt to various personalities are key skills one must have to be a successful strength and conditioning professional.
Law enforcement professionals are regular people like you and me who come from various backgrounds. They don’t have the luxury of million-dollar contracts and personal assistants. They look to build trust, and long-lasting relationships with the staff around them to ensure they have career long support, which on average is 20-25 years in policing. It’s the ability to form these relationships that leads to the overall success of the tactical strength and conditioning professional. At the end of the day it’s about providing quality service that shows you are fully invested and genuinely care.
CSCA – What are 1-2 of the differences between roles in this area compared to previous S&C jobs you have had?
The biggest difference I found between my current role as a tactical strength and conditioning coach and my previous roles in athletics is the preparation for the unknown and unexpected. In professional sports the schedule is well known, the sport rules and competition are well defined, and time frames are specific. In a tactical setting my role is to support and prepare operators in a manner that allows them to be equipped and ready to handle the unknown when the outcome can be a matter of life or death.
Are they adequately conditioned and prepared to transition from sitting to various high stress, high intensity cardiovascular based activities at the snap of a finger such as an hour- long dog track to a 2 min sprint pursuit and fight? Can they handle themselves at 3:00am in a combat situation 8 hours into a 12- hour shift?
CSCA – How do you upskill your knowledge and network as an S&C coach?
Aside from attending conferences/clinics, I am constantly connecting and speaking with other professionals who work in both the S&C (Tactical and Athletic), and athletic medicine fields. With a field that is constantly evolving, there is no better way to upskill your knowledge than to have real conversations with others currently working in the field. Every coach offers a unique perspective with regard to training philosophies, protocols, and approaches. This insight helps challenge me as a coach to rethink and adapt what I do to better prepare the individuals I train.
CSCA – What advice do you give individuals just entering the field who desire to work in the same area as you?
Don’t be one dimensional and limit yourself to only certain opportunities. Be willing to gain experience from as many areas as possible. All too often young coaches pigeon-hole themselves to a certain part of the profession and this limits their ability to gain experience, knowledge, and to become a more well-rounded professional. In today’s world of S&C, professional sports teams, athletic programs, and tactical organizations are looking for coaches that can offer a wealth of experience and knowledge to their athletes and employees.